Friday, April 25, 2008

The swarm

Unlike my alma mater, Wake Forest University, my current institution doesn't have any central area to the campus where students tend to congregate. The corridor between my building and the student center sees pretty heavy walking traffic, though. And when I've gone out this week, I've noticed that one of our spring scourges has arrived. The gnats are swarming.

They're too small to see until you're right on top of a cloud of them -- dancing in a chaotic group, probably in some mating ritual. There's not much you can do but walk through them, swatting as you go to keep them out of your hair and eyes and nose as much as possible.

The gnats here are a minor nuisance. But they always bring to mind the infamous "quad bugs" that plagued the Wake Forest central campus every spring, as soon as the weather warmed. These were not isolated clumps of insects, but a dense miasma of black dots that coated the entire quad. When walking in the area, a sheaf of papers or magazine was an absolute must for self-defense. Everyone on the quad fanned constantly, like denizens of Regency romances, in a last-ditch attempt to keep the bugs from attaching themselves to one's person. Even so, a walk across the quad invariably ended by shaking the bugs out of your hair. And woe to the person who dared wear a light-colored summer top. It would be sprinkled with irregular black pinpricks and stains at the end of even the shortest stroll, since the bugs seemed incapable of avoiding people and impossible to brush off once they'd blundered into you.

I don't know what caused the Wake Forest quad to be the premier gnat courtship ground in the Piedmont. It probably had nothing to do with the majestic rows of elms that marched down the long axis of the quad, the other feature I remember most -- especially since they succumbed to Dutch Elm disease and were cut down the semester I graduated, replaced by spindly saplings. My graduation on the quad might not have been the most elegant, out in the heat instead of shaded by ancient trees, but luckily by May the worst of the quad bug infestation tends to be over.

ObArcherAnecdote: During a short visit to the playground this afternoon, Archer enrolled me in a team for some game he was making up. I was on the All-Star Tardy Moms, and Archer put himself on the Data Deletes.

1 comment:

Adam Villani said...

Another nice thing about California: Relatively few bugs.

Although seeing lightning bugs when I visited Indiana in the summer was pretty cool.