Julia heliconian butterfly egg
Perched on the tendril of a Passiflora plant, the egg of the Julia heliconian butterfly may be safe from hungry ants. This species lays its eggs almost exclusively on this plant’s twisted vines.
We fool ourselves most days. We imagine the Earth to be ours, but it belongs to them. We have barely begun to count their kinds. New forms turn up in Manhattan, in backyards, nearly anytime we flip a log. No two seem the same. They would be like extraterrestrials among us, except that from any distance we are the ones who are unusual, alien to their more common ways of life.
As the vertebrate monsters have waxed and waned, the insects have gone on mating and hatching and, as they do, populating every swamp, tree, and patch of soil. We talk about the age of dinosaurs or the age of mammals, but since the first animal climbed onto land, every age has been, by any reasonable measure, the age of insects too. The Earth is salted with their kind.
We know, in part, what makes the insects different. Those other first animals tended to their young, as do most of their descendants, such as birds, reptiles, and mammals, which still bring their young food and fight to protect them. Insects, by and large, abandoned these ancient traditions for a more modern life.