We’re about to leave Wellington on an early 8am ferry ride. It’s been a breezy trip through our nation’s capital, which is why I didn’t end up contacting friends during our stay. I was gracious enough to pass on the cold/flu that gripped me during the wedding, so my girlfriend could enjoy its many graces. She’s spent the last few days leaking copiously from the nose, sneezing enough to leave her with a sore back and possessing a general spaciness of the brain. It’s shitty to be sick on holiday but honestly, if she had to be sick, a day and a half where we had zero obligations to anyone else was the best possible time. If it’d been two days later we’d be weaving through the twists and turns of South Island mountainscapes. That’s gotta be a special kind of hell inside the ninth sphere.
We traveled at a breezy pace, doing what we could while we could manage it. Best coffee we found (and currently leading for the trip overall) was at the Flight Coffee Hangar downtown. We’ve been wandering the city drinking coffee, eating well (made the customary trip to Sweet Mother’s Kitchen). I got up early for a morning jog around the waterfront and this afternoon we returned to the scene of the crime. We checked out Te Papa Museum. Visited a very cool exhibit all about bugs, with giant models all designed by Weta Workshops (though surprisingly no giant weta models). There was a hell of a lot to learn with fun interactive exhibits. Let’s see what I can remember.
There was a pretty vicious (both pretty and vicious) mantis known as the orchid mantis. With a vaguely translucent body capable of a certain amount of colour change, it hides among orchids and attracts its prey with bodily luminescence. As the prey draws near, it lashes out, grabbing it in its strong claws, then rips it apart with sharp mandibles. The slow motion video depicted a scene none to dissimilar to how I eat ribs. Brutal, just brutal.
There’s an awesome wasp that turns cockroaches into its zombie slaves. Sorta. The wasp confronts the cockroach and injects its venom into the wasp’s nervous system, paralysing its front legs. It then injects it again, paralysing its antennae and disabling its ability to navigate, It creates a nest and preps it for the arrival of a host. Bringing the cockroach to the next, it lays its eggs inside, then seals off the entrance to the nest. The new wasp emerges, chest burster style, from the now dead cockroach host. None too dissimilar to how my stomach feels after I eat too many ribs. Brutal just brutal.
The Japanese honey bees were fucking wicked. Their nests are often set upon by large wasps. Physically superior creatures, the wasps rampage through the hives, leaving dismembered bees everywhere. The bees are able to collaborate and work together to repel the invasion. I don’t know how they figured this out, but the Japanese honey bees can stand temperatures a few degrees higher than the wasps can. The bees band together around their foe in a little bee ball. They then flap their wings aggressively, heating up their little bodies. The wasp, unable to handle the temperature increase, dies. I’m not sure if it suffocates, melts or has some kind of painful brain explosion, but whatever the result, I’m sure the wasp realises it’s bitten off more than it can chew only when it’s too late. None to dissimilar to me at an all you can eat ribs night, Brutal, just brutal.
A few rad displays talked about evolutionary developments in insects and how human technology seeks to replicate it. One of these is the exoskeleton, which is finally being developed for assistance with accessibility challenged people. Augmented strength or limbs will one day be able to, say, help individuals with spinal cord injuries walk again. Spider silk is uncannily strong for its weight. One thread wrapped around the circumference of the Earth would only weigh half a kilo. Military technology is looking to adopt this strength to weight ratio in new and improved kevlar armour. Other future tech involves swarm-esque nanobots controlled by a central source (think Big Hero 6), and termite-ish machines working together to build large structures or clean up waste spills. I can certainly think of a few scenarios they’d be handy for. None to dissimilar for the clean up crew required after my body processes the aftermath of an all you can eat ribs night. Brutal, just brutal.
Who else is craving ribs right now?