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A sign of summer.
This beetle is called a June bug, presumably because we see them, hereabouts, on warm nights beginning in June. I have no idea what species of beetle it is, the Linnaean taxonomy, but June bugs have been part of summers here in Oklahoma as far back I can remember.
June bugs are slow, cumbrous fliers, which makes them easy to catch. When I was a kid I used to catch them, and then put them in my sisters’ hair, or down their backs. The June bug usually reacted to sister insertion by emitting a rapid fire clicking noise. Much flapping about and screeching would ensue. This all was fine entertainment for a ten odd year old boy on a hot summer night in the late sixties. Nowadays, I would not be so cruel–to a bug–or to my sisters, for that matter. Both of my sisters are in much better shape than I am these days, and could beat me up.
June bugs seem to be somewhat phototropic, but they don’t arc around a light bulb the way moths do. June bugs sort of veer into the glow of, say, a porchlight, seem somehow disappointed, make a turn like a tiny overloaded cargo plane flown by a drunk, veer out of the glow, veer back, are again disappointed, and so on. I don’t see them as often, or as many at a time, as I did back when. I don’t know if this is because there are actually fewer June bugs, or whether untrustworthy memory has multiplied them into a retrospective swarm, or simply because I don’t turn on the exterior houselights that often. I like to sit on the porch in the dark.
The June Bug in the image above flew into the kitchen through the open back door one night. I swept it out the air just as I used to when I was a boy. I took its picture with my dcam, and released it back into the warm night air, rather than putting it on my wife.
My impulse control has improved over the years.
One of the most famous apochryphal statements in annals of science was allegedly made by the evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane (Jack, to his friends). When asked by a theologian or theologians what could be inferred about the mind of the Creator from the works of His Creation, Haldane replied, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.” Entomologists are up to 350,000+ known species of beetles, so if there is a God, Haldane may have had something there. Haldane also said,
My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel, or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world.
Accept the premise that God has an inordinate fondness for beetles (He made so many), then it must follow that entomologists that specialize in the study of beetles must be the most Godlike of people. But only if they love their work.
I am very fond of June bugs–almost as fond of them as I am of fireflies. At the peak of manic episodes sans medication I have experienced what can be called “godlike” exhaltation. But I haven’t believed in God since I was five years old. I vividly remember the moment. The TV buzzed like a bug in the living room. I said to my mother, “I’m going to die.” She said, “No Honey, of course you’re not going to die.” I went and sat down on the floor in the front hallway. The door was open, the screen door on its latch. I looked out at the night–summer night. Heat lightning flared soundlessly in the distance beyond the blink of warning lights on tall radio towers. June bugs (and other bugs) bumped against the other side of the wire grid of the screen door. I was going to die. It was alright.