Nearly all the posts are bilingual.
Presque tous les articles sont bilingues.

English spoken. On parle français. (وكمان منفهم عربي، حبيبي)

Most of this blog's contents is subject to copyright. For instance, many of the latest illustrations I've made myself. I'm the cooperative type. If you intend to borrow some material, please contact me by leaving a comment. :-)
La plupart du contenu de ce blog est soumis aux droits d'auteurs. Par exemple, nombre des illustrations les plus récentes sont faites par moi. Je suis du genre coulant. Si vous comptez emprunter du contenu, SVP contactez-moi en laissant un commentaire. :-)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cures of the Jade Scorpion

With this weather, scorpions sometimes enter the house, coming from the garden. It's a problem, with the kids.
A good means to spot them, is to turn off all the lights and use a small ultraviolet lamp, like the one in my gadget pen in the photo. UV light makes scorpions phosphorescent, like those glow-in-the-dark toys.

According to my father, a traditional cure consists of drowning them in oil (olive, not motor!), let them macerate, and in case of a sting apply that oil to the skin locally. Does anybody know whether this is really efficient? And does it work too with fried mosquitoes? Mosquitoes also invade our house.
Granted, the tetanos vaccine consists of putting the Clostridium tetani toxin in formol... but it's a vaccine, not a serum.

In any case, these animals are extremely resilient to oxygen deprivation in oil. And to blows, to heat and dehydration, to hunger, to bug-killer... and to radio-activity! If they weren't dangerous to humans, we could readily admire the perfection of these animals. They would survive a nuclear war just as well as cockroaches. Let's hope for their sake they like the taste of cockroaches...
Actually, they would even survive better: according to experts, in the absence of Man, the domestic cockroach would become extinct within two years, for lack of heated houses to take shelter in winter. But then, what are our good scorpions to eat next? Thawed hamburgers? Eeeuw!

I can picture, 5 million years from now, what the new scorpion-evolved intelligent species would look like. Pity the aliens that would try to invade Earth!
"Alien 13 : the RETREAT!!!"

''JADE'', Scorpion Fine Liquor. For external use only.

En cette saison, venant du jardin, des scorpions s'introduisent parfois dans la maison. C'est un problème, avec les enfants.
Un bon moyen de les repérer, c'est de tout éteindre et d'éclairer avec une petite lampe ultraviolette, comme celle de mon stylo-gadget dans la photo. Sous UV, les scorpions deviennent phosphorescents comme ces jouets qui brillent dans le noir.

D'après mon père, un remède traditionnel consiste à les noyer dans de l'huile (d'olive, pas de moteur!), les laisser macérer, et en cas de piqûre appliquer cette huile sur la peau localement. Est-ce que quelqu'un sait si c'est réellement efficace? Et avec les moustiques frits? Notre maison est aussi envahie par les moustiques.
Il est vrai que le vaccin anti-tetanos consiste à mettre la toxine du
Clostridium tetani dans le formol... Mais c'est un vaccin, pas un sérum.

En tout cas, ces animaux sont extrêmement résistants à la privation d'oxygène dans l'huile. Ainsi qu'aux coups, à la chaleur et la déshydratation, à la faim, à l'insecticide... et la radio-activité! S'ils n'étaient pas dangereux pour les humains, on pourrait admirer sans réserve la perfection de ces animaux. Ils survivraient à une guerre nucléaire tout aussi bien que les cafards. Souhaitons-leur d'aimer le goût du cafard...
Ils survivraient mieux, même: d'après les experts, en l'absence de l'Homme, le cafard domestique s'éteindrait deux ans plus tard, faute de maisons chauffées où se réfugier l'hiver. Mais alors, nos braves scorpions, ils vont manger quoi ensuite? Des hamburgers décongelés? Beûrk!

J'imagine, dans 5 millions d'années, à quoi ressemblerait la nouvelle espèce intelligente qui aurait évolué à partir des scorpions. On plaint les aliens qui essaieraient d'envahir la Terre!
"Alien 13 : la RETRAITE!!!"


eolake said...

Surely, in the 21st, somebody found an efficient way of killing a scorpion?

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Well, I'm sure we can THINK of something. Humans are never more creative than when it comes to killing... :-(
How about making them listen to the latest speech of G.W.Bush justifying Iraq, or even worse, Fouad Siniora explaining why the oil barrel is down, but gas prices in Lebanon keep going up? No living creature can resist THAT.
Or drop them in month-old Taliban soldier slippers, I reckon they should be instantly dissolved. But isn't that just too horrible?

Still, scorpions are amazingly resilient. They take more than two hours to stop moving when you drown them in oil.
They're not the only ones. I remember, when I was a kid, trying to drown a common housefly in a transparent jar filled underwater. 24 hours later, it was still trying to escape when you moved it. Incredible.
I've read that houseflies can survive without problem if they lose their head. I've seen one like that, still very perky and hopping around. Seems like they only die eventually from starvation because they can't eat. (But I'm sure they don't feel any pain from hunger!)
Their immune system is also being carefully studied. Their complete immunity to all the germs in excrements and carrions is by no means insignificant or uninteresting!

While on the topic, the monsters in Alien were very officially inspired by an Earth creature, a fantastic parasite monster at its own scale: the ichneumon wasp. Has a metal-reinforced egg-laying stinger. Infects caterpillars, without killing them, and when the dozen or so larvae come out from its skin to make their cocoons, the caterpillar weaves its own silk over them for extra protection, then spends the rest of its doomed life DEFENDING them against predators(!) during most of their metamorphosis.
Alien versus Predator? Nothing original here! ;-)

Many parasites thus modify their host's behavior by affecting its brain to serve their own purpose. Rats will stop fearing and fleeing cats, ants will climb on top of grass blades where they'll get eaten by grazing sheep... all to help the parasite's cycle.
"According to his correspondence, Darwin, albeit the son of a pastor, stopped believing in a benevolent God when he discovered how the ichneumon wasp reproduces: its larvae «eat their prey alive from within», while carefully preserving its vital organs!" -- (From Wikipedia)
Still, said preys are usually major agriculture pests, and ichneumons a much appreciated natural helper of humans in biological extermination. Just like ladybugs (cute name, but literally voracious ogres to plant lice).

Ichneumons also block the host's immune system by simultaneously injecting a virus equivalent to AIDS, which the larvae will retain for their own later reproduction. I think it's the only known case of a symbiotic reproductive infection.
Reproduction of parasites is, to my knowledge, *the* most amazing example of Evolution's inventiveness.

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