Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Would you rather live to a ripe old age or die in ecstasy?

Insects are a great part of summer. Some insects anyway. The nighttime chorus of Katydids and their allies is one of the defining elements of the season. Fireflies are as magical to me now as they were when I was a child. Grasshoppers have always been one of those insects that I didn't have any qualms about touching. On the other hand...I have always been a bit squeamish about crickets, despite their widespread popularity. Their numbers swell, or at least the number of adult individuals, swells as summer progresses until it becomes impossible to disturb tall grasses against a wall without rousting a handful of crickets. I like the noise they make so long as they are outside.

Mantids are the best though. Big and odd-looking, they are fierce predators, quick and voracious. Their egg cases, each with up to several hundred eggs, are sold to gardeners so the hatchlings can eat up bad insects in the garden, but more and more research suggests that they are so nondiscriminatory in their diet that they do as much harm eating beneficial insects as they do good eating pests. I have not done quantitative research, but it is my clear impression that they favor members of the Witch Hazel family for depositing their egg cases though I have seen them on just about every sort of woody plant. Monday on the Group Project we found this mantis in a spruce. It was one of two we saw in the same tree; the other was bicolored brown and green. You begin to see a lot of them this time of year. Everyone, women at least, loves their sexual technique; the female, once mounted, reaches backwards and devours her mate from the front to back presumably timing it so that what's left of him finishes its job before she finishes eating him. Timing is important in sexual relations.

1 comment:

Amy said...

You rock. This made me LOL.

Katydids are my favorites, so slow and gentle and...green.