Oh Lame Saint.
Something like that. Today’s comic is my first foray into the world of illustrated haiku, or as my people called, a Haiga. Yeah, that’s an effing haiku! Not only that, but it’s a haiku about my favorite dragonfly, the Umber Shadowdragon. It’s one of the few insects that sound like Gary Gygax named them, hence the flames and destruction. Though many dragonflies sound like they were named for creatures that sit atop treasure hoards, this one is is a freaking Shadow Dragon, and not only that, it was previously known as a Twilight Skimmer. Seriously, whoever named that one rolled.
I referenced this in a previous post, but Dragonflies have always fascinated me. For one, their aerial maneuverability keeps aircraft designers up at night, trying to find some way to build something thats can zip around and hover like they do. They eat mosquitoes. Instant points. Along with spiders, bats, and lake fish, they are my ally during the worst of summer mosquito hatches. We stand together and say “Screw you guys, we’re going to eat you.” Well, I kinda leave the eating to the bats and bugs.
But finally, and most importantly, what fascinates me is their life cycle. See, dragonflies eggs are laid in the water, wherein the nymphs spend most of their lives. Agile, fast, and notoriously predatory, dragonfly nymphs prey on other aquatic insects and even small fish. Their weapon of choice is a device that could only have inspired H.R. Giger’s Aliens. It’s an extendable jaw called the Labium, which acts as the floor of their mouth, but can shoot outwards at lightning speeds to snatch prey. Here’s a video of it in action (Not for the squeamish!)
What’d I tell you? Badass. When the nymph matures, it ventures out of the water and similar to a cicada, the adult dragonfly emerges, leaving the shell of its former self behind. Now a flying terror machine, it scours the skies for new prey. But it’s a good thing it can fly, because for all it’s elegance and its once merciless youth, dragonflies cannot even walk. Its as if they traded their legs and crazy extendable jaw for wings, playing a cosmic game of “Would You Rather” and choosing the scenario where you get to fly and have big googly eyes. I don’t blame them. It’s kind of a transcendental love story wherein the dragonfly trades all it’s most vicious features and a lone, predatory lifestyle for a chance to soar the skies in search of a mate.
For what purpose do I grace you with this tangent into insectoid poetry? Well, jimbo I hope you didn’t forget about the 4th Annual Hexapod Haiku Challenge. Lucky for you, the deadline isn’t until March 20th! So you still have plenty of time to enter. I’m planning to throw a few more poems at you all because I’m just having too much fun drawing bugs and making bug jokes. Go on over and check it out.
I have to apologize to the NC State Insect Museum because I first plugged them in a post which had a bad word in the title, and their blogs throws pingbacks into the comments. So children and old ladies checking out the comments are shocked and appalled to see the first one drops a big ‘ol S-Bomb. So sorry about that.
NEWS: A lot of big things going on in the background here at sci-ence headquarters. You may have noticed the new ads on the side, helping me pay for the web space and –advertising– costs. oooh. Plus, the Neil Tyson comics have made their way back into the Reddit cycle and are now BLOWING. IT. UP. Many thanks to all our fans for your support, advice, and spam-like sharing tendencies. We love you for it!
This post has been brought to you by Nickel (Ni).