Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Deja Vu with Lacewings

So, apparently I am now a student at UC Davis, majoring in Entomology. Yes. It is quite a good place for me, with all its environmental-consciousness and agriculture-based community and biological research. There are lots of things I could potentially say about this, but I just feel like typing about one very strange event in particular at the moment! This was around 1-2months ago, during the STEP program (Special Transition Enrichment Program; basically an advanced orientation for select incoming freshmen at Davis; another thing that I could talk about, but sadly will not here).

In the middle of the Quad (big courtyard with grass and trees lining it), there is a particular peculiar redwood tree. It is rather short for a redwood, with one branch low enough to step on, and the base of its trunk bulges out greatly all around its circumference such that I can sit on it easily, like a bench. I have dubbed it Bench-tree (and I have similarly named a few other trees around Davis, too). If you search "bench tree" on Google Images (without quotes), Bench-tree is like those pictures, except the bench is actually the tree itself. It is quite awesome, yes. I sometimes sit on Bench-tree to read/study/write homework.  It is also easy to climb, which is fun! Near its top is a flat bit I can sit on, with a smaller portion of trunk continuing up that can be used as a backrest. It is fantastic.

One day, as I was sitting on Bench-tree, I noticed a lacewing larva walking up onto the tree. Excited, I picked it up and stared at it for a while (it was the first lacewing larva that I had ever seen! though I have seen plenty of adults). It crawled around my fingers, and eventually it bit me! Its mandibles are like ice tongs, big and curvy pokers that put digestive enzymes into the flesh it bites. At first, it was having difficulty getting under my skin, moving its head side-to-side to push the mandibles in, almost like a canine shaking its head around to kill the prey held in its jaws.  Being an eccentric entomophile, I was further overjoyed by this development and eager to let it continue, but since I did not know whether the bite would be dangerous (via venom or reaction to enzymes or something similar), I soon removed the insect's fangs from my skin (which took a few tries). I then looked up lacewing larva bites on my handy electronic talking device, which apparently can access the Internet.

While I was reading about lacewing larvae on my handy electronic talking device, a girl came up to me and said that she was a Japanese student and wanted me to answer a few questions, a survey to know foreign culture better. Its subject was social media, like Facebook. I complied and answered questions about my usage and opinions of social media and such, and she went away after it was done. I was then able to finish reading about lacewings and determine that they are not very harmful, though they do leave a bump that itches and lasts awhile. So, next time I find a lacewing larva, I want it to bite me again.

Two days later, almost the exact same scenario happened. 

That is, I was sitting at Bench-tree, I found a lacewing larva there, stared at it, and a Japanese student came up to me and  gave me a survey on social media. Twice. What.

Of course, there were some differences. This time, I was sporting a fashionable new bump on my finger (I will go into more detail about that later). While I was hoping for another bite from this lacewing, it never gave me one the second time. Although, it was still crawling around on my hand while the second Japanese student (this one male) gave me the second social media survey; after all the questions were asked, I showed the lacewing to him. He said it was Very Interesting.

So, that was strange.

Now, regarding the bite... After I removed the jaws of the first lacewing from my finger, I noticed a tiny red mark where a crumb of skin was removed, with another barely-perceptible one nearby. For the entire rest of the day, I felt no itching, and no bump arose as evidence. However, the day after there was a bit more there, with the red mark at its center. It never got incredibly big, but the bump remained slightly itchy for a couple of weeks afterwards. At some point, a smaller bump came up, too, where the barely-perceptible bit was. It is expected for there to be some reaction to a foreign creature's digestive enzymes entering one's blood, of course. Surely mosquitoes have taught you all that.


  1. Have you considered a Facebook page for The Eccentric Entomophile? It would increase your readership... You might also want to register it at the Nature Blog Network. Great to see that you are writing fairly regularly! Will be thinking about you at the GLADE Reunion!

    1. Eh, I am not interested in making a Facebook page... It seems like too much for me. I already have it registered with the Nature Blog Network, though!

      Will be thinking about the GLADE Reunion!