This just in from my continuing stories—which begins today—on why insects are smarter than you and me.
They had me in the opening paragraph with,
“…it turns out that alcohol can be just what the doctor ordered.”
Specifically, some doctor was talking about a situation where his patients,
“…sometimes find themselves swimming in alcohol.”
This certainly sounded promising to me until I learned that the doc is actually an evolutionary geneticist who studies fruit flies and their mortal enemy, tiny parasitic wasps.
(Who funds these studies?)
The scientist reported his findings as,
“They basically get drunk. They can’t stand upright, and they can’t perform their normal functions.”
Wait, are you sure this story was NOT about Mardi Gras revelers on Bourbon Street in New Orleans?
No, the NPR story was quite specifically about pests who, repeating myself, “Get drunk, can’t stand upright, and can’t perform my—I mean the insects—normal functions.”
Dr. Todd Schlenke went on to scientifically determine:
(No really, who funds these studies, anyway?)
Given the choice between an alcohol-free solution and the “real stuff,” which would the bugs pick?
Hmmmm. What do you guess?
“[The] flies overwhelmingly chose the booze.”
So, what did all this science say about the reason—as if we couldn’t figure it out for ourselves?
“Essentially the fruit flies are self-medicating.”
And, what does this say about insects, say, when compared to other animals?
“Self-medicating exists all over the animal kingdom. Insects, birds and primates all have been known to eat special plants to rid themselves of parasites or other ailments. But, says Schlenke, this is the only situation that he knows of that has critters using alcohol as a medicine.”
I wonder what the animals selected as “special plants,” for their own form of self-medicating.
Of course, all this discussion begs the question, shouldn’t humans be self-medicating in a like manner…for medicinal purposes, mind you?
Well, another doctor (one with obviously a much lower opinion about the value of alcohol consumed for health reasons) answered,
“The answer, as far as we can tell, is no.”
But, he did go on to add,
“The closest thing that comes to it is the gin and tonics that were used during the British colonial days to treat malaria.”
And that my friends, is what I have been saying for years: The Blue Bottle is nature’s best tonic when it comes to my health.
Hey, I haven’t gotten malaria yet.