Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Me and the Lacewing: Could It Be a Chase Thing?

Two days ago, I met a friend in a corner bar in the Bella Vista section of South Philly. With the temperature surprisingly mild for an August afternoon, the pub’s many vertical windows were open to allow in the air. As my friend and I chatted, a pale-green insect I later identified as a green lacewing slowly flew between us and landed on the wall. Approximately three-quarters of an inch long, the green lacewing looks like a cross between a moth and a scallion. After each of us briefly commented on the odd-looking intruder, we returned to our conversation and left the lacewing to its business.

This morning, I was standing in my bathroom when an insect looking very much like the lacewing from two days ago fluttered through the doorway. Now, encountering two separate specimens of the seldom-seen lacewing within forty-eight hours is highly unlikely. However, the chance that the Bella Vista lacewing hitched a ride home with me seems even more implausible, because…

·         A plant-dwelling insect would not be drawn to a human, particularly for such a long duration;
·         My friend or I likely would have noticed if the lacewing had eventually landed on me;
·         I had to walk a block and a half to my car, giving the lacewing plenty of time to be lured away (or alarmed by the motion of my body);
·         Most importantly, with my car’s air conditioning not working, I drove to Bella Vista and home—largely highway driving—with both windows open, causing a very stiff cross-breeze that certainly would have sucked the lacewing out into the open air.

So, is it possible that the Bella Vista lacewing followed me in the same manner that Roxy the Yorkshire terrier navigated the ninety miles back to her home after Newman, Kramer, and Elaine dog-napped her in Episode 111 of Seinfeld, “The Engagement”?

If a dog could do it, then why not a nectar-seeking neuropterid? Unlike Roxy, the lacewing can fly and thus take a direct path to my apartment, avoiding the Walt Whitman Bridge and potentially confusing traffic patterns along Admiral Wilson Blvd. Furthermore, the lacewing had only seventeen miles to traverse, compared to the ninety miles that Roxy trekked from Monticello to Manhattan. (I assume that, with its compound eyes, the insect spotted the address on my driver’s license when I opened my wallet to pay the tab, because, despite its powerful mandibles, the lacewing did not bite off the tag of my shirt and fly to my apartment with it between its tiny jaws.)  
I can only hope that the lacewing will not keep me up all hours of the night with incessant barking, lest I be forced to get my neighbor to bug-nap the creature and drive it out to its native habitat at 8th and Fitzwater. And even if it does not hinder my sleep, I will be fortunate not to suffer nightmares of the lacewing savagely attacking me, to which Kramer fell victim after the incident with Roxy.

(Images of Kramer and “Roxy” copyright NBC.)

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