The Splat Test

The Splat Testambience: cars, cricketsHere’s a program from our archives.If you take a drive through the country this summer, a dozen or so insects are likely to have a close encounter with the windshield of your car. It turns out that by taking a closer look at those window bug splats, you can actually get to know a few things about what kind of insect you’ve run into. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Mark Hostetler is the author of a book which identifies insects by their signature splat on a windshield.Hostetler: Now what is the grossest splat– kids always ask me that question and I think the one people like the most is the the horsefly. And the reason is, you can actually tell the sex of the insect by the splat alone and the reason that is is that across almost all the species, it’s the female that bites. They need the blood for their eggs to develop. So the horseflies tend to leave quite a large smear on your windshield with lots of lumps in there and there tends to be a touch of red right in the center of the splat and that is the blood from some animal that the horsefly has just fed on. And so that’s how you can tell whether its a female or a male horsefly, if it has a touch of red in there then it’s a female horsefly.We’ll hear more about those insects on your windshield in future programs. For transcripts of this and other programs in our series, please visit our web site at www.pulseplanet.com. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner. We’ve been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast.

The Splat Test

There's a lot to learn from the big blob left on your windshield by an unfortunate horse fly.
Air Date:07/14/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

The Splat Testambience: cars, cricketsHere's a program from our archives.If you take a drive through the country this summer, a dozen or so insects are likely to have a close encounter with the windshield of your car. It turns out that by taking a closer look at those window bug splats, you can actually get to know a few things about what kind of insect you've run into. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Mark Hostetler is the author of a book which identifies insects by their signature splat on a windshield.Hostetler: Now what is the grossest splat-- kids always ask me that question and I think the one people like the most is the the horsefly. And the reason is, you can actually tell the sex of the insect by the splat alone and the reason that is is that across almost all the species, it's the female that bites. They need the blood for their eggs to develop. So the horseflies tend to leave quite a large smear on your windshield with lots of lumps in there and there tends to be a touch of red right in the center of the splat and that is the blood from some animal that the horsefly has just fed on. And so that's how you can tell whether its a female or a male horsefly, if it has a touch of red in there then it's a female horsefly.We'll hear more about those insects on your windshield in future programs. For transcripts of this and other programs in our series, please visit our web site at www.pulseplanet.com. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner. We've been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast.