Metamorphosis as Midlife Crisis

What to Do with the Leftover Neurons?
  • Janis C. Weeks


The midlife crisis occurs in virtually all males, including members of the animal kingdom. A good example is the caterpillar. He will spend a large part of his life on a predictable career path, engaging in traditional caterpillar activities such as crawling around and munching on leaves of expensive ornamental shrubbery, and then one day, out of the blue, he’ll say to his wife, “Dammit, Louise, I’m sick of shrubbery.” She does not understand him, of course. Partly this is because she has a brain the size of an electron, but mostly it is because he seems like a total stranger to her, a different insect altogether. Soon he has left her to live in his own cocoon, from which he eventually emerges with a whole new “youthful” look—wings, bright colors, gold jewelry, etc. As he soars into the sky, feeling fulfilled and exhilarated, free at last from the restrictive routines of his humdrum former life, Louise watches him from far below. She feels conflicting emotions: sorrow, for she knows that she has lost her mate forever; but also a strange kind of joy, for she also knows, as she watches his multihued wings flashing in the glorious golden-red glow of the sinking sun, that he is about to be eaten by a bat. Dave Barry, 1990


Juvenile Hormone Pupal Stage Larval Life Tobacco Hornworm Ecdysteroid Receptor 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janis C. Weeks
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of NeuroscienceUniversity of OregonEugene

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