17 July 2011

in which we invade the privacy of very small animals

It's mid-July. Something is wrong. The few balmy days between winter cold fronts in Cape Town have always been something to cherish. Gentle sun and no wind. The still air holding a hazy blanket of smog over the flats. But usually a cold front or ten roll through within days, howling north winds preceding several flavours of rain. This last week however, has been unrelentingly balmy. I write this wearing shorts, my bare feet propped on my desk in a beam of afternoon sun. For me it's quite pleasant, but I am concerned about the natural order of things. The small creatures of this area appear to be under the impression spring has arrived. My cockatiel has been alternating between vicious screaming, mild violence and vigorous masturbating (a strategy that works about as well for him as it does for most teenage boys). And then I walk outside and find an orgy in my garden. Not just the ladybirds:

But weevils too:

For those of you interested in the truly gory details, I couldn't find any information online about ladybird rude bits, but note that the boy-ladybird (no, not ladyboy, that's an exclusively Thai thing as far as I know) have these interesting sex appendages whose function I know nothing about. Somehow they skipped over this fascinating field in undergrad invertebrate zoology:

I don't have access to a pet entomologist, nor do I have an ID guide handy, but I did satisfy myself that these are not the evil invasive Harlequin Ladybirds, and should thus be allowed to procreate unmolested.

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