This column first appeared in The Times and The News-Star Sunday, September 30, 2018.
The Score, And Counting: Windshields 800 Million, Lovebugs 0
“It’s a little bitty thing they call the lovebug…” – Buck Owens
“Let me tell ya ’bout the birds and the bees
“And the flowers and the trees
“And the moon up above
“And a thing called ‘Love’…” – Barry Stuart, recorded by such studs as Brenda Lee and Dean Martin, and experienced in one way or another by everyone who has ever walked the face of the Earth.
Every time I see lovebugs copulating — and you can’t turn around without running into this naturistic pornography — I feel like I should go someplace quiet and light a cigarette.
Don’t misunderstand: If anyone has an appreciation for the value of the insect population — and even for what they can’t seem to stop doing this time of year — it is yours truly. We hold their contribution to our world highly in this bureau.
Insects spread the pollen. They provide food for other animals. They keep things moving. Oh, there are some black sheep — termites and mosquitoes come to mind — but that said, there is a reason they are here. (I am just guessing at this point, but one day I hope to ask God, “Mosquitoes? Really? You said, ‘And it was good.’ But…mosquitoes?’”
You can bet your hat I will get an answer that will, miraculously, make sense. (God has the best sense of humor, and if you think about it, it’s not close. Just look at you and me. I rest my case.)
I’ll learn how mosquitoes somehow saved us in WWII because a crucial German got a skeeter bite in just the right place at just the right time or that the wheel was born when a caveman saw a mosquito circling his head. Meanwhile, I’ll trust that there has to be a reason.
But as pro-insect as I am, this unapologetic fornication situation with this specific insect population has got to stop.
Have you noticed it too? If you have vision and if you have a car, the answer — unless you are a lying insect or the rare shy lovebug — is yes.
And we are not blaming just any insect here, although I hate mosquitoes as much as I hate Brussels sprouts. (Really? You EAT those?)
No. We are talking specifics. And we are talking lovebugs.
Get a room!
My science book tells me that early spring and now are when lovebugs are most “active.” If you forget when mating season is, just look for all the tiny dead lovers on car windshields; that’s how you know it’s lovebug season.
At least you figure they die happy.
In courtship, things begin quickly and escalate from there. The male actually hovers over the female pupa until they turn into adults. And right when the females come of age, it’s on. This is a taxonomic species that does not play around.
But, this is no one-night stand either. Both during and after mating — which is two- or three-day process — the adults remained “hooked together” or “coupled” for several days, even when they are flying around, supposedly looking for a cheap hotel.
Who gets to fly frontward and who has to fly backward? How they are able to concentrate on what they are doing and fly at the same time? Who gets to decide that the party is over?
These are more questions we’ll have to wait for Providence to answer. In the meantime, I’ll just keep looking away.