I promised last week to reveal why June Bugs are willing to crash into your porch light all night long until dying of exhaustion.
In fact, my own opinion is that the June Bug is neither willing nor unwilling. Every one of them now living has been pre-programmed by genetic experiments experienced and/or passed along by hundreds of millions of generations of successful unbroken parentage. June Bugs have no choice; they do what the message from their ancestors requires.
Two such requirements appear to explain the June Bug’s error when confronted with a porch light or any artificial or even natural local source of steady illumination.
The first, and in my opinion most compelling requirement, is that the June Bug, like moths and others with the porch light problem, must find a way through a complex world without wasting time and energy in fruitless detours. Time is precious when your life is short, and you may have only a few days during which to successfully pass to your children the hard won genetic wisdom of your forbearers. So effective navigation is important, and both the sun and the moon are the best clues to direction. At night, of course, it must be the moon. Keep the moon over your left shoulder, or in front of you, says the gene, and you will go more or less in the same direction for a fairly extended period of time, avoiding pointless distractions. However, if you keep the porch light over your left shoulder (or directly in front of you as June Bugs seem to prefer) you will never get away from it. You will navigate yourself into an endless, if irregular, orbit, or a perpetual headlong argument with the porch light, and it is likely that you will loose.
The second message from your predecessors is that if you can see light ahead of you (lets say an opening between leaves), there is nothing in your way, so you can move efficiently to the next source of food or affection. Of course, if you are a June Bug, the porch light, unfortunately, is not what it seems.
Our friends the June Bugs will join their insect friends and relatives in our forthcoming app, the Fieldstone Guide to Insects and Spiders, coming out this summer. Be among the first to know by joining our mailing list. (We will never share your name elsewhere.)
Yours from the field,