Questions for Thirst for tears

Before reading:

  1. Why do the eyes produce tears — and what’s in those wet secretions?
  2. Name three bugs and where you think each gets its food and drink in the environment.


During reading:

  1. What about the caiman surprised Carlos de la Rosa?
  2. What is lachryphagy?
  3. Where did Hans Bänziger first encounter tear-sipping bees?
  4. What kind of bait did his team set out to see what bees might eat?
  5. What is a proboscis and how did the bees use it on Bänziger?
  6. What are pheromones?
  7. What are two reasons that scientists have proposed as reasons that insects might go after tears?
  8. Name two types of diseases that have been spread by eye-visiting insects.
  9. Name three types of insects that have shown tear-sipping behaviors.

After reading:

  1. Tear-sipping insects are a type of parasite. So are sweat-drinking bees. Explain why they qualify as parasites. And which would have a harder time getting its fluid. Explain your answer.
  2. The stingless bees that Bänziger’s team studied release pheromones. Why would they do that? What’s in it for their colony to do so? And how does that compare with the reasons that other animals release pheromones (for clues, visit
  3. With the exception of people, most targets for tear-seeking insects are large four-footed (often hoofed) mammals, reptiles and birds. Explain why might these be rather “safe” targets if you are a tiny and rather fragile little insect?
  4. Make a list of four additional things you would like to know about tear-drinking insects. Now, pretend you are a scientist and design an experiment to try and answer one of those questions. Lay out the steps and how many people you would likely need for your team. Describe each of the tasks that you would give them.