An English In Kentucky


















Tuesday June 17th 2014  Tim Candler


    Last year there were very few Grasshopper.  Perhaps one or two. I'm going to suggest that a Grasshopper Wasp had discovered their lairs and laid eggs which laid waste to the Grasshopper community. This Wasp has a name, but no-way will I ever remember it. It's also possible The Velvet Ant had something to do with the lack of Grasshopper last year, because last year Velvet Ant were charging around in dangerous numbers and they too feed on the hard work of others. And I'd argue that summer began about four days ago, with the heat and the sort of settled still air that causes a mind to wander toward bad language, because when it's like this, the sad fact is that only the insects and Creeping Grass are happy between noon and five in the afternoon.  The rest of us, we were not really designed to do anything more than enter a state of dazed ennui  after about eleven o'clock in the morning. We sort of gaze at things, ponder the big questions, understand the invention of alcohol and if forced into some sort of physical activity following instruction from the overseer, we become robotic and plodding, one step after the other with no future in sight, it's a sort of sleep walk. All the same it'll be interesting to see whether Grasshopper will make a more dramatic appearance this year. I kind of miss their beady eyes, their antenna, their leap into flight and the joy they take from chewing holes in those newer insect screens that don't go to rust.

     This year too, there's a chance that The Great Black Wasp will be sparse. It's their concentration of nesting in the barn that might have done it to them, because the barn has in my view become Velvet Ant Central. There are a great many boy Velvet Ants flying around, trying to look tough with each other in their hunt for girl Velvet Ants. Velvet Ants prey on the eggs of the Great Black Wasp. The thing about the Great Black Wasp, is their apparently mechanical nature. She likes four Crickets, or something like a Cricket. Not five or three, but four of them. And before she takes a Cricket into her lair so that her egg might having something to eat when it hatches, The Great Black Wasp, leaves the unconscious Cricket at the entrance to her burrow, goes down into the burrow, just to make certain all is well down there. When she returns to collect the Cricket, if the Cricket has been moved just a little bit, she won't discover it straight away, and when she does, she gets a little twitchy and finds it necessary to re-inspect her nest. So she'll again leave the Cricket at the entrance to her burrow, re-enter her burrow and she'll be gone to ground for a while. If you move the Cricket again, the cycle continues, and if you're really cruel, you can entertain yourself for hours. It's a compulsion on the part of The Great Black Wasp that's caused some of the wackier theorists to use the behavior to distinguish insects from animals.


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