Gnats in the Pulpit

Writing Gnats in the Pulpit

Linda W. Curtis

When writing the article for Wisconsin Entomological Society in 2018, I discovered the editor had no gnat images to accompany the article. And, as luck would have it, my husband and I ate lunch at our local restaurant and a gnat flew around my face, truly bugging me. I made a swat, and it landed in my fresh bowl of potato soup. Since it was on its back, legs waving in the air, I realized my golden opportunity. With the empty crackers wrapper, I carefully lifted it up and out, put it in a foam cup and then to my tote bag. I ate the soup, and once home I went to my digital lab to image the poor mini-beast. Red eyes glared up at me through the microscope, which I could not see otherwise, even through my bifocals. An intricate insect anatomy was revealed, only two wings, but long spidery legs. How did it manage to get about in the small spaces within a Jack-in-the pulpit spathe? Apparently the male Jack has more space for the gnats to move and escape, but the female Jill-in-the-pulpit has a “death trap” of entry without exit. So a gnat dies in the line of insect duty of pollination by compulsion for aroma. Once its function is done, obsolescence is the consequence.

If you wish to make an anthropomorphic comment, please do so. lcurtisbotanist@ameritech.net            Lindaeus

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