The insect kingdom: Even nature has a digital vibe.

July 25, 2011


Firefly


Blackberry

I was sitting on my front porch this weekend, at twilight, smoking a cheap cigar and listening to the cicadas and crickets rev up for the evening. It’s a strange racket they make, when you sit back and think about it. Whirring, clicking and even beeping, they sound… almost digital. It was as if the sun went down and all our devices crawled outside and… Oh my God, it’s Night of the Living Blackberries!

It hit me how similar insects look and sound to the myriad devices we all harbor: hard, shiny skins, black or translucent or wild in color. The aforementioned noises some of them make. The way they move: click, click, click. Shining intermittently, fireflies (actually beetles) remind me of my Blackberry… Or is it the other way around?

Not many people know this about me but when I was a boy I had a thing for insects. I collected butterflies and moths, raising them from caterpillars to adults. Waking up to a giant Cecropia Moth crawling up my bookshelf is a sight not soon forgotten. I kept a box of crickets on the back porch, much to our cat’s delight. For a time I even had a pet Black Widow spider, much to my mom’s horror. I named her Killer Queen.


Cecropia Moth, surprisingly common in Chicago

The attraction was more than skin deep. I tore into books and movies about the insect kingdom. I must have read my Time Life book of Insects a million times. I learned about metamorphosis and exoskeletons and the differences between species and all their various idiosyncrasies. In college, I parlayed this knowledge into a minor in entomology. Needless to say, I probably know more about insects than any of you.

I know what you’re thinking: what a dork! Perhaps but I met my future wife showing her my collection of butterflies and moths.

And so I watch and listen to these amazing creatures, remembering a time before PC’s and smart phones, being a boy, an odd one at that, chasing fireflies and collecting moths by the porch light. And then my phone starts buzzing, like a June bug. Happy summer, everyone!

2 Responses to “The insect kingdom: Even nature has a digital vibe.”

  1. “Needless to say, I probably know more about insects than any of you.

    I know what you’re thinking: what a dork!”

    Here we see narcissism, self-awareness, and self-deprecation in their natural habitat, the modern “hip” man. Bravo, nature.

    Maybe you should have studied people.

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