Friday, October 17, 2014

Do insects play?

In my younger days, oh so many years ago, I used to think that I was quite an intelligent person. The main reason for this was because so many people told me so. As I have grown older and hopefully wiser, I believe that they were using the wrong word. Learned may better apply to my case as I find that studying various subjects does not make you as intelligent as you might think. I have always had a voracious appetite for knowledge, and my almost photographic memory at the time allowed me to regurgitate what I had read with ease. I read the Bible from cover to cover at too young an age to actually get the full benefit from the words within. I followed this by reading three sets of encyclopedias and a library's desk reference Dictionary. And just for fun thirty or forty years of National Geographic and all of the popular outdoor and scientific magazines. All during my high school years. All of this knowledge didn't prepare me for what I experienced.

Growing up near a cedar swamp in Michigan gave me plenty of opportunities to watch and study many different forms of life. Insects being one of my favorite. I used to watch dragonflies and their smaller cousins damselflies for hours. I would read about their habits and hunting pattern then watch their life cycles play out. I do not recall ever having read that insects do anything but work towards one survive long enough to reproduce.  So my conclusions to the following are only mine. I have no hard facts to back up my theory, But follow along and see if it makes sense to you.

Yesterday afternoon I happened to be leaning on the porch rail staring down at the central air conditioning unit looking for my favorite study subject who haunts it.

He wasn't there, He, is a little green lizard. I could tell you his scientific name or some of the names the local Floridians call them, but since he wasn't there why bother. There are several who live in or around the porch and air conditioner, but he is special to me. I know him by his broken toe on his left hind leg. You see we are studying each other. I think he has gotten over his fear of me and is now working on figuring out if there is some way he could turn me in to his next meal. I am trying to figure out how he has managed to survive the last six months since I first came to Florida. I have seen him laying on the fan blade when it is not revolving and move off of it just before it kicks on. 

The large fan blade revolves at 1700 revolutions per minute and blows a mighty wind upwards. And on a calm day my perch here at the rail is a great spot to catch a cooling breeze from it So while letting the dogs out to do their thing I get a chance to view the local fauna.


A little low and right of center of this photo is a blue streak. It is a dragonfly. While I was standing and looking down into the revolving fan and cooling off, a very large specimen came flitting over my shoulder and took a nose dive down towards the spinning fan blades. The updraft of buffeting hurricane like wind bounced it around for a while before rudely tossing it back in my face. I wiped the creature off my nose and it flew off only to return from behind me again and try once more to commit suicide to my thinking. Again it was buffeted about and almost made it when deja-vu, it was again holding onto my nose and upper lip for dear life. I gently pealed it off my face and gave it a helping hand in a direction away from the danger. I called the dogs and went inside thinking that maybe the fan was giving off a sound or vibration that had attracted the dragonfly by mimicking its prey.

Today was a repeat of yesterday, only the dragonfly made it to the safety grate over the fan,

After watching this display for a while I went inside and got my camera fully expecting it to be gone by the time I got back.
The forceful wind was knocking it about almost like a vibration which made getting a clear photo almost impossible. I was marveling at the strength of this creature, Its ability not only to hang on but to not loose it's wings in the process. After snapping a few pictures, suddenly another dragonfly made it's approach.

It too successfully landed.

Then after a while the first one let go and took off.

It flew around a couple of times missing it's approach right,

and finally landed again. Shortly there after the fan shut off and they both flew away.

Now this behavior was not resting or a part of the mating ritual. It was not for food or the second landing attempt would not have been made after not finding food there the first time and with the difficulties involved. And since in the last six months I have never even seen them near it when it's not running. I can only come to one logical conclusion:  I believe that this was nothing more than pure fun.
I think that somewhere lost in the noise of the fan was the laughter of dragonflies and maybe a few double-dog-dare-ya's.