Monday, August 20, 2012

Insect Encounters of the Third Kind

On warm summer evenings we have taken to sitting outside on the rear porch, enjoying whatever cool air and breeze may be available.  There's a remarkable difference between August nights and those of June and July.  Of course, darkness falls much earlier but other things change, imperceptibly at first, then markedly.  I am always amazed at how much I didn't know about the wild world of nature just beyond my back door back in the days when I never had time to just sit and watch and listen.

I noticed that the fireflies have gone.  For weeks we watched their flashy dances in the brush and over the lawn.  Taking their place of evening prominence is the less flashy - indeed invisible - but much louder, cricket population.  Their nightly symphonies, the desperate calling of one to another, are often background noise, barely noticed.  But once noticed, the cacophony becomes an insistent ringing in the ears.

We sit in the dark, enjoying the solitude and the cover of night.  However, on evenings when someone is expected home, the porch light is switched on.  I don't care for having the light on.  For one thing, I don't enjoy being in the spotlight and have no wish to attract attention to myself.  Worse, there are the bugs.  The poor moths, completely befuddled by this infernal invention of Edison, flutter about the light, asking directions, trying to navigate by a moon that has suddenly grown exceedingly large and fallen from the sky onto my porch.  The beetles fling themselves against the siding, making a pinging noise and then fall all around and in my hair.  At some point, we must navigate our way inside through the door without allowing our new-found friends to accompany us.

It's not unusual to hear the occasional buzzing of a mosquito, taking a reconnaissance flight round my ear, looking for a succulent spot to sink her proboscis into.  Buzzing I can handle.  But  the unearthly sound that met my ear last night still makes me shudder.

I was slipping through the open door when a terrible whir and screech sounded by my right ear.  I yelled calmly asked "What's that?" while waving a useless hand by my head, having no idea what I was trying to swat.

I cannot describe this sound.  It was like no other bug that was ever heard to whizz by my head.  It was a high-pitched sound that looped and paused and swept up and down some musical insect scale.  It was like a tiny voice crying out some great secret that I must be told before some unknown and menacing fate befell me.

Then I realized what it sounded like.

The Fly.

Not the Jeff Goldblum fly.  Not the Brundlefly that retained Jeff's voice and form  and Geena Davis as a girlfriend, while growing bristly hairs and spitting on its food.

 No, the other fly.

The fly with the tiny human head and the tiny human voice, squealing "Help me!, Help me!".

No comments: