Missing the Bugs

November 17, 2010

I know it is fall and I know it is getting colder – although the thermometer seems to belie that knowledge – but I’m wondering – where are all the bugs? Like Holden Caulfield with his ducks, I am wondering.

The only thing I see is the occasional horsefly. The bees are hibernating, the ladybugs gone, the ants underground, the grasshoppers dead. The butterflies have disappeared.

The monarchs migrate for warmer weather, moving south to Mexico and then South America, making journeys of thousands of miles. How is it that while they look so incredibly fragile and ethereal, they can travel all that way, through rain and wind and heat and cold? The butterflies that make it up here in the spring lay their eggs, those children lay eggs and those grandchildren lay eggs, each generation living only two to three weeks. The great-grandchildren (or great-great grandchildren) are the ones that make the journey back and live about 8 months.

In thinking about this… Monarchs can’t survive our winters and the food they need for their larvae doesn’t grow in their winter home. So would you prefer to live less than a month in the warm sun, flitting from coneflower to oregano to zinnia to milkweed, having mad sex and laying eggs? Or would you like to live 8 months only to fly 2,500 miles, bask in the sun for a bit, make the trip all the way back to lay eggs and then die? I mean, really, the amount of work involved for every fourth generation or so is just astounding. Think of the responsibility! The fate of your species rests in your wings – and your powers of procreation. Myself, I think I’d take the long haul as I love to travel and, being goal-oriented, I can complete the task.

Alright – I’m a control freak and I’d want to make sure it was done correctly.


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