Silly Questions: Strange antics by members of the insect kingdom

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
MOTHS, greenfly, packages and rafts all fly, sit and drift through the column this week, together with a baffling collection of new quesions.

Are moths the most stupid living things? Ben Powell produces a considered evaluation: 'When flapping around the bathroom, the moth will make like a piece of buttered toast falling towards a fluffy carpet and plunge wings-down into the one remaining drip from this morning's bath.

'However, on further inspection he is no fool. If not trapped, the moth will cleverly endeavour to find a glowing light-bulb, thereby avoiding the certain death of the dark bathroom. The apparently stupid light-bulb flapping secures his survival.' It remains to be seen how the moth population will cope with the imposition of VAT on fuel bills and the possibility of cutbacks in light- bulb usage.

The moth's 'single-minded fidelity' is praised by R J Pickles, which he sees as perfect religious enlightenment: 'Having seen the light, it rushes to become as one with its source.'

So if not the moth, what is the most stupid thing? Peter Lawrence suggests some runners for the stupid stakes, including the bullhead, booby, noddy, tit, ass and baboon, with the silly billy-goat - 'so prevalent in political circles' - starting as favourite.

Stuart Cockerill identifies the ant as the most stupid. 'Ants have the social organisation, blind devotion to duty and pure strength of numbers to wipe out the human race, yet for some reason they choose not to do so. Since any living thing in its right mind would leap at such an opportunity, we have to conclude that the ant is just plain dumb.

'Similar arguments can be raised in the cases of sheep, nematode worms and supermarket check-out operators, but the ant has been around longer than all of these, so really should have worked it out by now.'

A few weeks ago, we asked where one can buy plastic greenfly to put on artificial flowers. Dougal Hutchison informs us that they are sold 'in the same shop as sells plastic petrol to put in plastic petrol containers, and shepherds for shepherd's pie'. Presumably the infestation may be dealt with by plastic explosives.

Geoffrey Langley says you can make your own artificial greenfly with mildewed sesame seeds. 'If mildew is not to hand, the seeds may be shaken up in a jar with a little emulsion paint. This, if required, will give blackfly, redfly or white-with-a-hint-of-apricot- fly. Substitute sunflower seeds for mammoth greenfly.'

In reply to Sue Hall's query about the difference between a 'package of measures' and a 'broad raft of measures' in government promises, Steve Prowse supplies the technical details: 'The former is a blank sheet of paper and the latter comes in two parts - a blank sheet of paper and an index written in crayon.'

Which brings us rather neatly to this week's package of questions. 'Which side of the bed do I sleep on?' asks A Lawrence, who explains that he sleeps on his front, his wife sleeps on her back, and both think they are on the left side of the bed. In a similar vein, Tom Bengoechea asks: 'Why are U-turns called U-turns?' Driving along a dual carriageway, he suddenly realised they should be called 'N-turns'.

David Hart wants to know 'Why do we have only one moon?' and Jo Matthews asks: 'Why, when the doorbell rings, does the dog always think it is for him?'

Finally, John Cvancara writes: 'The majority of high street banks charge pounds 10 for letters informing you of being overdrawn. How many letters were sent, and what was the total bill incurred by the Government's current pounds 63bn overdraft?'

Answers and more questions to: Silly Questions, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

Comments