Posted by: Memorizing Nature | June 3, 2012

Six-Legged Paradise

When it comes to biology, I am a child, admiring what is most alien-like, namely insects. Magnify insects, and you will see mandibles feeding like machines, ears in the weirdest places, antennae desperately probing. Insects play out a life cycle of extreme transition. First they’re nymphs in water, and before long they become dragonflies hovering over bulrushes, eyes as large as the earth. Or they’re dreaming quietly inside a bed of silk, and then miraculously transform into flying entities, powdering the sky with the dust of wings. Now, as I hike through a meadow of spreading wildflowers under the sweaty sun, I know I am in the realm of the six-legged critters.  Important yet dismissed, adaptable and at the same time vulnerable, insects provoke in us reactions of bewilderment and disgust. That’s unfortunate but understandable, given their anti-predator tricks of stings, venom, mimicry, and concealment, not to mention the exposed skeleton that makes such tiny creatures so tough. In the meadow, I hear clicking and snapping of wings, the sounds of various kinds of grasshoppers scraping together a harmony of the arthropod kind. What diminutive catapults, these crustaceans of the land. Some grasshoppers blend in with the ground, others with young shoots.  The adolescents have not yet grown wings. Here is a grasshopper that is especially active, hurdling from green blade to green blade, showing off its single skill, practiced to perfection through the millennia. It lands on a flower bud and stares back with complex vision, wondering what stands there in beastly shadow to examine its Olympian body structure, its implausible magnificence.

Photo by Elaine Medline

Memorizing Nature has previously published posts related to insects. Here are links to two oldies – Tenacious Tents (April, 2010) and The Happening Hive (July, 2010)



  1. Hi there – insects are great – and of course, they are the typical animals of Earth – all us mammals just keeping getting ahead of ourselves! SM

  2. Lovely words and an amazing photo Elaine! Well done!

  3. Fantastic that it managed to stay sooo still! Love it’s stance, showing that he is ready to leap at any time.

  4. I love being taken into this hardly-ever-noticed (by me, anyway)
    world that’s part of our world. Musing on the photo is a little like
    going through the looking glass.

  5. Wonderful post, as always. I love bugs too… The soldier beetles on my cucumbers hunting for cucmber beetles… ladybug numphs voraciously chowing down on aphids…. my busy honeybees pollinating everywhere….

    thanks for this window into the insect world

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