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Hardcore Entomology

by Ben A. Shaberman

While driving down the freeway recently, I noticed a big greenish-yellowish blob on my right windshield wiper. Upon further inspection, I realized it was two grasshoppers mating, doggy-style. Because grasshoppers came -- evolutionarily speaking -- before canines, it might be more fitting to call their mating position "grasshopper-style."

In case you are wondering how I knew that the grasshoppers were actually mating rather than just embracing, I did a little research on the Internet. It's incredible how much insect porn is out there: photos, diagrams, and graphic descriptions. One innocent enough looking Web page from the University of Wyoming, reports, "...a male usually approaches a female stealthily and pounces on her...invariably mounts the female from behind, lowers the tip of his abdomen below hers and attaches the genitalia." Whew, this is not the Styrofoam and straight-pin stuff from my eighth-grade biology class.

Anyway, I was amazed by the fact that these two grasshoppers could hang on to one another, and the oh-so erotic windshield wiper of my '89 Volvo, as I was doing 60 miles an hour down the highway. I could even see their little antennae fluttering in the wind.

Was this fast-moving fornication exciting for these insects? Or did the male climax prematurely from the anxiety of being on a speeding car? Does the female even care? Maybe she likes her sex quick. "Three seconds! Honey, you're the best!"

Something tells me that this couple did not have an extended courtship: No wining and dining, no foreplay, no "let's cuddle for a few hours after we're done." No, the male just pulled down his little grasshopper pants, the female said, "Wow," and away they went.

Clearly, they have few inhibitions, and it looks as though they may be into public displays of affection. Given the dangerous nature of this mating venue, one could easily argue that they're masochistic, as well. Maybe they're swingers, hopping -- so to speak -- from one partner to another.

Regardless, for me, their reckless abandon was liberating. With violence, adultery, sexually transmitted diseases, birth control and gender identification complicating the sexual practices of we humans, I found it refreshing to see two creatures just going at it.

Unfortunately, though, this story did not have a happy ending. About a mile from my exit, they couldn't hold onto my car any longer and were whisked away into dense midday traffic.

I do take consolation in knowing that despite their untimely demise, at least they went to the great grasshopper hereafter with grinning mandibles.

©2006 by Ben A. Shaberman

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Ben Shaberman's humorous essays and commentaries have been carried by The Washington Post, National Public Radio (Morning Edition), Chicago Tribune, American Health & Fitness, and Vegetarian Journal. He is also a science writer for a nonprofit research foundation in Baltimore, Maryland. For more information, see his Web site.

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