Two courting insects — what would an entomologist say?
June 24, 2013.
Last Thursday night I witnessed two courting bugs. I’d not seen anything like it, nor suspected I would. Yet there they were. They came and left my view within less than a minute, and I still scrunch my brow when recalling them.
‘Twas minutes before midnight. I sat at a backyard terrace table, behind a Chicago Rogers Park neighborhood brownstone. The table sat on cement pavement that framed the building back and extended one side that led to the back gate. A brick garage stood adjacent to the brownstone. The garage had three pedestrian doors that opened to each individual parking spot, and three paved walks that led to each door. Between the walks lay squares of grass that needed mowing. The other side of the building, opposite where I sat, the pavement gave way to more grass the same length, that spread to a chain link fence at the yard edge. That was from where the courting insects came.
My nose was to stationery where I composed a letter. The stationery paper was propped on a notebook to keep it steady as I wrote. A sconce at the garage corner illuminated enough electric light to glow upon my pages. The bright moon shone a blue-grey upon the table and the pavement. My ink stroked black on the stationery. The two bugs arrived black on the pavement and moved toward me. They lifted my attention from the letter.
At first I thought they were one huge bug, as they were entwined side by side and persisting in perfect outer-leg coordination. “Is that a cockroach?” I asked myself. No, too black. “A beetle?” No.
As they arrived closer, ’twas clear they were two large insects, hooked arm-and-arm, per se. Except, they were hooked leg-and-leg — five or six legs at that, persisting with coordination. I leaned forward, squinted — to iterate that yes, they indeed were two insects promenading.
Just as I thought “How romantic,” the two bugs paused across from me. The one on the right mounted the one on the left.
I fell into perplexity. If these two insects had any peripheral vision they’d see me — the giant with the pink walking shoes, capri khaki pants, the pink sleeveless blouse glowing beneath the light, the chin pointing their way and the eyes beaming at them.
Whether they could see me through their bug eyes — as one giant, nine giants or more — they seemed to resort to an “I only have eyes for you” attitude toward each other. They stopped close to moi the giant, and began very private business.
“Ah!” I gasped, and swatted my notebook against the pavement to insist they take it someplace else.
The big black insects dismounted, turned the opposite direction, and re-connected legs the opposite sides. They scurried arm-in-arm as only five or six legged creatures could do, impeccably in one-bug rhythm, back across the pavement and to the grass from which they came.
Before I returned my pen to the letter at hand, I jotted notes in a blank book to record the recent experience — with ambition to ask an entomologist about the two courting insects.