Bug blood

As we were driving through the hinterlands of Wyoming over the past few days, we were remarking on all of the bug splats on the windshield of the van. There were a few “juicy” ones– apparently pretty large bugs. I noticed that all of them had more or less clear liquid, and I commented about that to Laralee, which made us wonder (well, made me wonder, anyway) why bug blood isn’t red.

So last night at dinner I opened Wikipedia to take a look, and learned that insects don’t have hemoglobin like vertebrates do… instead, they have something called hemolymph. It’s a (generally) clear liquid that serves more or less the same purpose of distributing oxygen to the internal organs. I was fascinated to find out that insects don’t have circulatory systems, either: no arteries or veins, just an ocean of internal fluid that sort of washes around inside their exoskeleton and bathes the organs in nutrients. Their hearts slosh the fluid around a bit, and in fact they can push it into certain parts of their bodies as needed.

Science is so cool. And I love learning something new every day.