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科学美国人60秒: 在万圣节,考虑一下巧克力蚊

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For Halloween, Consider the Chocolate Midge

在万圣节,考虑一下巧克力蚊

As you unwrap a Halloween candy or two, it's worth paying your respects to the real reason for many of the treats: a tiny fly whose trick is to make chocolate possible. "They're all in the family Ceratopogonidae, which is the biting midges family. But not all of the adults bite. How we usually do it is we call them 'Cerats.'" Erica McAlister is a fly scientist at the Natural History Museum of London, and author of The Secret Life of Flies.

当你打开一两个万圣节糖果时,值得你去看看这些糖果的真正原因:一只小苍蝇,它的把戏是让巧克力成为可能。它们都属于蠓科,是蠓科的一种但并不是所有的成年人都咬人。我们通常叫它们“Cerats”。艾丽卡·麦卡利斯特是伦敦自然历史博物馆的一名苍蝇科学家,著有《苍蝇的秘密生活》一书。

The "cerats"—related to no-see-ums—do a job that's very hard to get done by hand: they crawl through long, twisty cacao flowers, pollinating the stubborn cacao tree. Which produces the beans used to make chocolate. "They are really, really difficult to pollinate. So you do need these little things to do it."

“cerats”与“no-see-ums”相关,它们的工作很难用手完成:它们爬过长长的、弯弯曲曲的可可花,为顽强的可可树授粉。它生产用来制作巧克力的豆子。“它们真的很难授粉。所以你确实需要这些小事情来做。

And to McAlister, at least, the tiny midges are a beautiful sight to behold. "They look like a very tiny mosquito, but they are basically absolutely covered in hair, they're very beautiful, very hirsute little organisms. And the males have got the most—they look like feather duster antennae. He's got to not only smell for the female, he's listening. And his ears are on the antennae. They're not very robust, these things, they're tiny, as the name implies. They've got nice external genitalia for the boys… I don't know what else you want me to say "

至少对麦卡利斯特来说,这些小飞虫是一幅美丽的画面。“它们看起来像一只很小的蚊子,但它们基本上全身都是毛发,它们非常漂亮,有很多毛发。”而雄性则是最多的——它们看起来像羽毛掸子的触角。他不仅要闻女性的气味,还要倾听女性的声音。他的耳朵在触须上。它们不是很结实,这些东西,它们很小,顾名思义。他们有漂亮的外生殖器给男孩们…我不知道你还想让我说什么

Well, here's the bad news: The chocolate midges are in danger, as farmers clear out shade-grown rainforest plots, in favor of sunnier monocultures of cacao. That threatens the tiny flies, which need the damp rotting leaf litter of the forest floor to thrive. But some producers are taking notice. "Obviously our human demand for chocolate has gone up, so now a lot more research is going into fly pollinators, including these as well."As for McAlister? She won't be joining you on that chocolate binge. "I can't stand it. Revolting stuff."

好吧,坏消息来了:巧克力蚊正处于危险之中,因为农民们清理了遮荫种植的雨林,转而种植更加阳光的单一可可作物。这对那些需要潮湿腐烂的森林地面落叶层才能茁壮成长的小苍蝇构成了威胁。但一些生产商也注意到了这一点。“很明显,人类对巧克力的需求增加了,所以现在有更多的研究正在研究苍蝇传粉者,包括这些。”去呢?她不会和你一起吃巧克力的。“我受不了。”令人作呕的东西。”

For Halloween, Consider the Chocolate Midge

As you unwrap a Halloween candy or two, it's worth paying your respects to the real reason for many of the treats: a tiny fly whose trick is to make chocolate possible. "They're all in the family Ceratopogonidae, which is the biting midges family. But not all of the adults bite. How we usually do it is we call them 'Cerats.'" Erica McAlister is a fly scientist at the Natural History Museum of London, and author of The Secret Life of Flies.

The "cerats"—related to no-see-ums—do a job that's very hard to get done by hand: they crawl through long, twisty cacao flowers, pollinating the stubborn cacao tree. Which produces the beans used to make chocolate. "They are really, really difficult to pollinate. So you do need these little things to do it."

And to McAlister, at least, the tiny midges are a beautiful sight to behold. "They look like a very tiny mosquito, but they are basically absolutely covered in hair, they're very beautiful, very hirsute little organisms. And the males have got the most—they look like feather duster antennae. He's got to not only smell for the female, he's listening. And his ears are on the antennae. They're not very robust, these things, they're tiny, as the name implies. They've got nice external genitalia for the boys… I don't know what else you want me to say "

Well, here's the bad news: The chocolate midges are in danger, as farmers clear out shade-grown rainforest plots, in favor of sunnier monocultures of cacao. That threatens the tiny flies, which need the damp rotting leaf litter of the forest floor to thrive. But some producers are taking notice. "Obviously our human demand for chocolate has gone up, so now a lot more research is going into fly pollinators, including these as well."As for McAlister? She won't be joining you on that chocolate binge. "I can't stand it. Revolting stuff."


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