Thirsty? Why not turn yourself to glass until you can get a drink? That’s what a tiny fly called the sleeping chironomid does.
As babies passing their days in the super-dry areas of Africa, sleeping chironomids live in little huts they make for themselves out of dirt and slobber.
The problem with living in a puddle in a super-dry place is that puddles don’t last too long. Everybody dries up.
If we dried up, our cells would collapse and would be irrevocably damaged. Nobody could bring us back to life. If we lose just 14 percent of our bodies’ water, we croak. Remember all those leathery people they find in the desert sometimes? That’s people for you.
To keep their cells from the fate of humans, sleeping chironomids first make a whole bunch of sugar called trehalose, which takes the place of water in their cells.
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By Roar and Chris Hedstrom.
Chris Hedstrom is a entomologist in Corvallis, OR studying biological control for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. He’s also an illustrator and photographer. Check out new drawings, photos and writing as they appear at chedstrom.tumblr.com or ore