Engineering Difficulties

There’s a mosquito wolf in the bathroom.  I don’t kill them, despite the shock factor of finding an insect three inches wide resting on my towel.  It’s hard to be afraid of something that flies like it’s had a few too many; if it was human, it would have lost its license and been relegated to a scooter long ago.  It makes me wonder about the design of the things, though, as I watch it bumble up the shower curtain, flop over the rod, and drop like a rock into the tub. 

Caught in a rare mement with its legs untangled.

Yes, it looks like a freaking huge mosquito, which has lead to a lot of confusion and several star-shaped spots on people’s walls where they’ve smashed the innocent bugs in a frenzy of anti-mosquito fervor.  Mosquito wolves don’t suck blood, and as far as can be determined, don’t do any damage at all.  There are something like 12.000 different species of them in North America, all innocently flopping around, being eaten by birds, spiders, and, occasionally, our dog.

The mosquito wolf, also called a mosquito hawk or a Texas mosquito, is not related to bloodsuckers, nor does it hunt or eat them.   Before some quick research, I believed that they did, and I always wondered how something so slow could catch an insect as fast as a mosquito.  It can’t, actually.   In real life, it’s known as a crane fly, diptera tipulidae, and it doesn’t eat anything as an adult. Really.  Not one bite.  It flies along in its incompetent way, legs flapping uselessly, looking for a crane fly of the opposite gender.  Yes, just like college students, it lives to breed.  I don’t believe it’s going to luck into any action in our bathroom, but in this house of no air conditioning and ill-fitting screens, anything is possible.

I feel a bit protective of it, actually.  Killing a crane fly is easier than not killing one, since even a casual brush-off can do quite a lot of damage.  Crane flies are fragile, slow-moving, and big, kind of like God painted a “Swat Me” sign on them.  Giving one a gentle nudge off of a towel can leave the fly in a helpless tangle of legs, and if the nudger has a soul, it might wonder at this point what possible advantage can come from being, well, big, fragile, and slow.

This is the beginning of a summer of weirdness for me.  My Beloved going to Africa without me for two weeks, the Oldest Daughter planning her wedding, the Boy living on his own for the first time, me nursing my bum hip and wondering why I can’t manage the pain better than this . . . I feel big, fragile, and slow, something that can be flattened by Not Much.  There does not seem to be a teleological advantage in this.

If I were a crane fly, I would have laid eggs and kicked the bucket.  Since I’m a human, I birthed children, nurtured them the best I knew how, and sent them out into the world — the same one that I feel increasingly irrelevant to.   So I’m going to spend the summer looking at whatever comes by.  I’m going to re-read John Janovy, Kathleen Norris, Annie Dillard, Thomas Merton.  I don’t think I can fix being big and slow, but I might be able to put a dent in fragile.


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