Saturday, 31 January 2009

Insect Deaths

Insects, when we are in their presence, are mostly either alive or dead, and only occasionally in the process of dying. And this usually happens for them with abrupt violence. They meet with either a predator, poison or rolled-up magazines. In fact I challenge anyone to think of insect death and not conjure up some image of sudden and irreversible flattening.

I was sitting on the couch the other evening when I noticed a wasp buzzing in the window. I fixed my gaze on the hymenopterous intruder wondering whether it had come from outside or worse from a wasps' nest somewhere in the house.

The wasp then changed direction and flew into the room tracing large elegant circles in the air above me, and then something unusual happened: the wasp swooped down, banked left, climbed again and then died in mid-flight. Continuing on its trajectory it traced a lazy parabola and landed with an audible tick and a single bounce on the living room floor where it lay motionless. I got up to check. Yes, dead!

I had witnessed my first insect death that wasn't of a violent nature. I like to think it died of old age while doing what it enjoyed best.


Death of a Wasp Queen, by Stijn Coppens.

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