Wonder of the feet feat

PUBLISHED: 12:36 28 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:57 06 May 2010

IT S certainly true of husbands, a lot of children and - although they may only admit it quietly and with great reluctance - some women, but who would have thought it of ladybirds? I m talking here about the nose-twitching issue of smelly feet. Scientists

IT'S certainly true of husbands, a lot of children and - although they may only admit it quietly and with great reluctance - some women, but who would have thought it of ladybirds?

I'm talking here about the nose-twitching issue of smelly feet.

Scientists in upmarket Harpenden have done some super clever research and come up with startling facts about the little spotted creatures.

The boffs have identified chemicals in ladybird foot odour that are actively avoided by tiny parasitic wasps which attack aphid pests.

Just to prove that wasps are swats - as opposed to attracting swats from rolled up newspapers - here's how they have reasoned in the interest of their own survival.

While developing, the wasps live parasitically within the aphids they target.

But, and here's a clever bit, they know that if the aphid host gets eaten by a ladybird the developing wasp suffers the same fate.

So to prevent their offspring disappearing from history even before they emerge into the world, the adult wasps have evolved to avoid the smell of a blend of chemicals that ladybirds deposit with each footprint they make.

So if they get a whiff of a ladybird's feet, they leave the aphid alone and go and look for another elsewhere.

But the wasps' descendants are not completely safe, of course. Who's to say that once the aphid host is found and taken over, the unreliable little critter won't fly off into the welcoming jaws of a hungry ladybird.

Such is the chaotic nature of Nature.

Talking about chaos, the contents of a lady's handbag must be a deep mystery to nearly all men.

Judging from the way handbags bulge, I suspect that most males would be amazed at what they found if they delved inside the essential female accessory.

There must be dozens of things lurking in the average one.

So it comes as no surprise to learn that the average value of a handbag and its contents has now topped £550.

Millions of women risk theft and fraud by keeping valuable items in their handbags, warned Age Concern this week.

And it is reckoned that only half the women have their handbags insured.

Apparently, and I can't pretend to understand it myself, a sizeable proportion of women are so attached to their handbags because they feel their whole life is contained within them.

Research has found that more than a third of older women in East Anglia have had their bag stolen at least once. Yet still they carry around items which could be left safe at home.

Street crime and muggings in England and Wales are heading towards the 100,000 a year mark.

With that in mind, an Age Concern spokesman said: "We urge people in Hertfordshire to remain vigilant and only carry what is absolutely necessary in their handbags."

I think his advice may fall on deaf ears.

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