Thursday, 14 October 2010

Brother insect

I don't know what you are, but you are sure as hell something my friend

This extraordinary creature, only one centimetre long, possibly mimicking the buds of a pine tree, or simply discouraging would be predators, is a stunning example of why, of all living things, we often find insects the hardest land - based form of life to identify with. Presumably it is a kind of caterpillar, but I have never seen the like before, and it made me very aware of my own body by its very difference - or rather mine. All hail you splendid beast - walking coral, luminous battleship, all bristling defences and spiked turrets!

A big blue Japanese dragonfly and its flying equipment
Living in Aizu means living in much closer proximity to insects, much closer to much bigger insects, which suits the boy in me better than the city girl in my wife, though even she is becoming accustomed. The sudden screams from the bowels of the house are less frequent eighteen months into our residency, as she gradually comes to accept our fellow residents, who strangely seem to think the house is theirs as much as ours.

I'm a leaf, I'm a leaf...oh shit, what's this white stuff?
The unprecedented heat of this summer was the mosquitoes' loss and the dragonflies' gain. Dragonflies are voracious predators and they have patrolled our garden in droves - but fortunately they, unlike mosquitoes, do not drink human blood, otherwise I would be sitting here an empty sac and typing might be a problem. They build them big here, like sharks suspended beneath assault helicopters - a winning combination.

The biggest dragonflies have green heads
They are welcome to eat all the insects that would otherwise eat our vegetables. In fact insect appetites and drives are increasingly inseparable from our own. Kusai mushi (stink bugs) for example, are currently trying to leave the cooling woods and return to the house they overwintered in last year - that would be ours. Who wouldn't rather be tucked up under a blanket in a cupboard than wedged in some bark under ten feet of snow? My beloved has a theory that they are able to beam themselves through glass. You see them gathering at the windows, then click! They are inside. But you never see them crawling through a crack. Never. There don't even appear to be any cracks around the windows, so she may be right. I have decided to live with them rather than against them. That way if they do have useful skills inherited via shreds of DNA discarded by advanced alien civilisations, they may see me right come the re-invasion.

Butterflies as big as your hand are higher in the cuddle-ability ratings
Big green stripey spiders are somewhat lower for some reason

Grandly decorated, with satisfyingly striped legs and a body that swells over the weeks to a pregnant green blob, these spiders grace every house and set a trap across every footpath in the autumn, getting bigger and rounder by the week. Judging by the litter of limbs and bodies trawled from the air in their nets, some of their own relatives, spouses and courtiers may have added to the banquet rather than merely attending it. And how is that different from the court of Henry VIII, or any modern dynastic tyrant?

As in any marriage it is sometimes hard to distinguish consummation from consumption

No comments:

Post a Comment