The invasion has begun. The air is filled with thousands of ladybugs. They swarm at the edge of the forest on the hill above the house; the proverbial cloud of insects. They cling to the cedar siding. They crawl through the cracks in the door to reach the warmth of our home. They land in your hair; stick to your clothing. Why? I don't know. Maybe its just a winter-is-coming act of self-preservation.
It's one of the many fascinating aspects of life here on the mountain. Bugs. We get lots of 'em. I'm no entomologist. Nor do I ever want to be a bug expert. But the little creatures sure can capture your attention.
Take the praying mantis. Have you ever seen one? A really big one? How about tousands of them? They roam the slopes below the house. Why are they there? I don't know. What do they eat? I don't know. But they make it very difficult to mow the grass. I am an animal rights person, after all. Er. Bug rights...oh, never mind. The downside to this story are the crows. We have a huge colony that dominates the skies in the area. They seem to like to eat the mantises. But that's enough of that.
Then there are the lightning bugs. They light up the darkness at night all across the valley below, briefly, and are gone. Only to reappear a few feet away, blink, and dart back into the darkness. An act of...what? Joy, I think. After all, they are only seen on the most wonderfully warm and serene summer nights. I tend to think they are flitting around in celebration of a chance to live, knowing perhaps that they have but a brief time.
And spiders. For some reason (we need that entomologist!) they begin to appear in the early autumn. By the hundreds. They weave their webs in every eave, most windows, in the bushes. They are found in the house, in the barn, in the garage, hanging from the trees. Big ugly, hairy black ones, "daddy long-legs," and small stubby fierce-looking little devils. They all seem to have voracious appetites - for other insects.
We get a lot of moths on the mountain too. Some are huge, colorful, and breathtakingly delicate. Others are simply dull gray. The moths seem to supplant the butterflies, which appear in the spring and flutter about all summer. By the hundreds. One learns to drive slowly down the gravel turnpike so as to not smash the many butterflies that seem to like to gather in the roadbed, particularly when its damp. There are not enough butterflies in this world to have them decorate the front grill of my Ford Escape.
We are well into autumn now. Most of the butterflies are gone. As are the lightning bugs. The moths and the ladybugs will go - wherever they go - when the temperature dips well below freezing. Come December, when the winter winds begin and the air is bone-chilling, snow will be knee-deep and all the bugs will have moved on. Somehow, I think they are the smarter creatures.