Why do some bugs squish and some bugs crunch?


And what, exactly, is the difference between a bug and an insect? Is it a matter of social upbringing/standing?

Bug is a vernacular that means different sorts of living things. Sometimes it only means hemipterans, a use which can be distinguished by saying “true bugs”. Sometimes it even includes bacteria, as when someone says they caught a bug.

Usually it means insects and also similar relatives like spiders, centipedes, or pillbugs, even though they don’t all have the right number of legs, but not say crabs which have a larger and more benthos-oriented design. I guess some people think that’s a pejorative, but I find it’s a useful category to have.


Cuticle is the structure, basically another term for exoskeleton, not the name of a protein. It’s made up of different proteins as well as the polysaccharide chitin.


I have confirmed that he’s got an outer layer of protein polysaccharides. Has a funny habit of shedding his cells and replacing them with polarized silicon, which gives him a prolonged resistance to adverse environmental conditions.

…and the real story here is that the difference between ‘squish’ and ‘crunch’ is that, in crunchy (hard) cuticle, the protein/chitin/pigment composite material is more strongly crosslinked than in squishy (soft) cuticle.

The real takeaway here - the new part of this news - is that the crucial difference is the degree of crosslinking in the cuticle material.

So the answer is “crosslinking (in cuticle)”, not just “cuticle.” [smiley goes here*].

  • “smiley,” I say, not “idiotic-looking yellow cartoon face.”

Bah. Fookin’ b&d software.


Funny strange, or funny “ha-ha”?

Thank you, you saved me from having to write that comment myself. The sad part is, the source is actually an university’s homepage… you’d think they’d be able not to make such a silly mistake.

So, deep fry the squishy ones and roast the crunchy ones?

Apropos of cuticle: in at least some cases it has some very, very, interesting nanostructural properties…

More generally, I get the impression that the varying compositions of different flavors of the stuff allow quite impressively tailored composite structures, with differing degrees of stiffness and other properties throughout as circumstances demand.

1 Like

I thought it was all in how you chew them.

(is it ok to upload that?)

snig, the first time I ever heard the word polysaccharide used was in the original Alien; for me, it’s forever associated with Ash the Goddamn Robot. I understand that for people who actually know what the word means (i.e., people other than me), it evokes a different context.


I had to google it to find the reference. I did lab stuff for a while, so polysachharides were part of the day job, but silicon, for me, though the second most common element on the planet, was initially known as the major constituent of the Horta and its eggs.

It’s like chocolate chip cookies - it’s all about cooking temperature and personal preference.

1 Like

Lobsters are sometimes referred to as bugs. And I definitely think of them as such, along with crabs and shrimps. Big yummy sea bugs. Mmmmmmm

1 Like

Cuticle? Don’t you mean chitin? A cuticle is the bed from which your fingernails grow, like a follicle produces hair. Chitin is the hard stuff exoskeletons are made from.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.