Sex in the Backyard: An ELi Exclusive Report

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Friday, September 21, 2012, 5:50 pm
By: 
Aron "Raz" Sousa

Sexual reproduction is very old and is the best part of what separates us from blue-green algae. In fact, sexual reproduction is about 1 billion years old compared to, say, the 6-year-old mole on the right side of my face. A fairer comparison is modern humans; we clock in at about 200,000 years (depending on who you read). If modern humans are the proverbial "blink of an eye in geological terms," then sexual reproduction comes in at 5,000 blinks, or about an hour on a treadmill. In other words, a very long time. No wonder we are so into it.

And here, I mean "we" in the Cole Porter sense of "birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it." The big "we," ladies and gentlemen: the eukaryotes.

Plants often need a little help, but they still do it. You can be a handmaiden to plant life by showing a little consideration for the pollinators out there. Last week, I caught four unabashed, hard-core pollinators in the act in our East Lansing yard. And here they are; a honey bee (above), a wasp, a bumble bee, and a swallowtail butterfly. (The swallowtail looks like it was ridden hard and put away wet. It's been around the block a few times. This ain't its first rodeo.) Native plants are good hosts for these critters, but in these pictures are allium, butterfly weed (one of the milkweeds), a hot pepper plant, and a zinnia. Put something other than lawn in your yard and support what made you: eukaryote whoopee.

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