The Onion Dip: A Bug’s Life in 2020

By Jamie Belfer || Sports Editor

Photo courtesy of pinclipart.com, radnor.com, istockphoto.com, creazilla.com.

2020 has been a year of ups and downs, especially for the insect community in and around the Campus Crossings apartments (Crow). Bands of eager bees, vivacious lantern flies, and curious lady-bugs all roamed the premises throughout the fall semester. Fall 2020 was most definitely a learning experience for them.  Little by little, however, they picked up the fundamentals to survival in this crazy year – whose foot to avoid, where to escape in the cold, and where to find some leftover takeout. Yet sometimes, their fate and well-being was left up to humans – and boy does kindness really make a difference. 

On warm September days, four humans escaped the stuffy indoors by venturing out to the open field of luscious grass behind Crow. Bright-eyed and bushy tailed at the start of the semester, they soaked up the sun and settled down on their gently-placed picnic blankets. As they chowed down on their Souvlaki Boys takeout, a trio of bees eagerly approached. They zig-zagged freely through the clouds of salty and sweet smells that permeated through the air, occasionally touching down on a forgotten fry or sinking into a puddle of spilled tzatziki sauce. What they didn’t smell was the fear of the humans as the “big bad bees” approached. As the humans’ fight and flight responses grew stronger, the possibility for co-existence and sharing among the bees dwindled. As opposed to being avoided or attacked, a simple gesture of sharing a fry could have been greatly appreciated.   

As September came to a close, there was a new sheriff in town – the lantern fly (cue dramatic music).  While many of these spotted species lived together in the outdoors, some curious wanderers squeaked into the first floor of Crow.  Yet many of these souls sadly did not survive the trip to the elevator as they had been squashed, squandered, and squeezed by the soles of many stomping shoes. The lantern flies wondered where this rage to attack was coming from. Was it from the stress of the human module system? Was it the fear and anticipation of what could possibly happen next in 2020? But, did the humans ever wonder about the lantern flies? Maybe that fly they were about to crush left their fly family for a nice walk around town. Maybe they had just experienced the passing of a fellow lantern fly friend. Yet, the human will never know the true thoughts of an approaching lantern fly.

With November quickly approaching and lantern flies vanishing from the cold, there was one six-legged fellow that schemed its way into the warmth of actual apartment rooms – ladybugs. Their tenacity and perseverance makes humans wonder about their true intentions. Some humans may immediately see the ladybug as an invader, the enemy and thrust a vacuum or a fly swatter in its direction. Yet, maybe this ladybug just needed a temporary escape. Maybe the ladybug community was electing a new leader too, and the stress was too much to bear as the fate of the ladybug nation was at stake. Or, the stress of their daily duties could have been piling up, and the ladybug just wanted a warm and friendly space to cocoon in for a little while. So, instead of using the vacuum, maybe it would be better to give the ladybug time for some rest and recuperation and then give it a gentle nudge guided by a paper towel back into its natural environment. 

The silence of the bugs was eerie in December. No bees. No lantern flies. No ladybugs in sight. Where did they go? Was the cold isolating them in their home – were they okay? Were their fellow friends staying in touch with one another? 

This unexpected and long year was very tough on many in the insect community.  Whether it was finding ways to get food, coping with the loss of fellow bug friends, or feeling anxious and stressed about the world, the bugs faced many obstacles this year. However, they persevered. That in it of itself is worth celebrating! These bugs definitely appreciated the sharing of a fry, the chosen altruism, the gentle nudges, and the occasional check-ins as these simple acts of kindness from friends and strangers alike mattered to them greatly. They learned that the open kindness made this challenging year a little bit brighter, a little bit better, and just a little bit buggier.

Junior Jamie Belfer is the Sports Editor. Her email is jbelfer@fandm.edu.

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