Friday, July 22, 2011

Nature's Bag o' Tricks

It's a cicada of some sort, right? I can't begin to tell you which one, since they belong to the Order Hemiptera which includes about 82,000 species in the world. What kid hasn't ever found the empty shells of these critters and been fascinated by the creepy, almost clear, exoskeleton clinging to a tree? I remember collecting as many as I could one summer day, and that is most likely an amalgam of a bunch of similar summer expeditions rolled into one memory.

This particular one was stranded on the patio this morning, so top heavy that it couldn't hold itself right side even when I flipped it over onto its legs. One morning this week, I gave up on the flipping and finally tossed one of his relatives into the air. Its wings began beating on the downfall, and it flew away. This one didn't fly when it was tossed, so it posed for a picture.

Actually, the posing for the picture lasted a few seconds, but the posing for admiration of its markings lasted a bit longer. Aren't those colors and designs terrifically terrifying in their insect way? Decidedly beautiful in their boldness, don't you think? But, then, it is true that my eyes have rarely lighted on any object done up in blues and greens and not been delighted!

Wouldn't this make a wonderful mask? Wouldn't those wide, wide, wide set eyes
exude a strangely mesmerizing power?

You know what I like to do? I like to look at a creature like this, take mental notes about its details, and try to figure out on my own the "why" behind those details. Nature has a big bag of tricks for all, and it's fun to speculate. For instance, take these extremely wide set eyes and bulky body. If you couldn't judge the size of its wings while it was in flight, if you could only see those eyes, wouldn't you think it is much bigger all over than it is in reality? What about that design on his back? Are those blunted cone shapes a camouflage trick, or are they a signal of some sort? Is there even such a thing as a visual Morse code for insects? Why transparent for the wings in this one, instead of tiny panes of color? Hmmmm.

There ya go, Nature's Bag o' Tricks, with the drawstring loosened... go ahead, open it up more, and peek inside :)

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