Over the past month I have been observing the area in and around my apartment complex, which borders a nature preserve. As I’ve wandered through the complex, with my roommates and our dogs, I have seen the beginning of the change between seasons, the end of the long, hot (and rather humid) Texas summer, and the beginning of fall. With the change of seasons has come a very welcome change in temperature as well, from over 100 degrees during the day, to somewhere in the eighties or nineties.
On my walks, particularly the ones in the evening, I’ve noticed that the plethora of types of insects has changed with the changing of the seasons. As early summer has given way to late summer and early fall, June Bugs have all but disappeared. And the profusion of pill bugs determined to move in with us has slowed and stopped. I have begun to notice a new type of beetle-like insect that I have never noticed before (I’ve included a picture of one, nearly hidden in the grass, below). I began to notice a few at first, here and there, mostly in the evenings and at night. One night when I was out walking, the ground seemed to be covered with them, I could barely find places to set my feet without fear of stepping on them. This plethora of beetles was a welcome change from the plethora of cockroaches often seen during the hot, humid summers in Houston, where I’m from.
Mosquitoes, too, seem to have increased their numbers tenfold after the recent rains from the middle of the month. I have barely been able to step outside without collecting at least three new bites. The increase in the mosquito population has, however, resulted in a near feast for the dragonflies, many of whom I have seen zipping through the air above the grassy area adjacent to my apartment, where residents usually walk their dogs.
As the end of summer has rolled around, I have begun to notice an abundance of crickets. I’ve seen these insects in multiple locations, throughout my complex as well as on St. Edward’s campus, though thankfully not in the numbers seen in previous years, when infestations of crickets ran rampant through Austin. I’ve developed a habit of trying to catch most of the insects I find indoors, usually by trapping them in a cup with a piece of paper, and releasing them outside. I’ve had a bit of a problem catching crickets due to their speed and the distances they can cover in a single jump. I have had success with this method with catching the small, persistent moths that attempt to fly in my front door night after night. These, too, can be seen fluttering in and out of the pools of lamplight that dot the area late at night, flitting through the air as I move through the complex.
It has been interesting observing the changes that the changing of the seasons brings just in this small area of my apartment complex and the area near my house. I have noticed so much more by looking closer and focusing in on the area, things that I would never have paid attention to before, or have really taken notice of, such as the shift in the types of insects that populate the area.
Particularly at night, I have seen the environment around me change, with the changes in the weather, and the emergence of new insects. A quote from page 62 of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac that struck me was “then everybody goes to be to relearn the lessons of the night,” but, to me at least, it seems that sometimes the lessons the night has to teach us are best learned by going out and observing the little things.