DECEMBER
2002

 

By
Tom Turpin
 
Professor of
Entomology
Purdue University

 

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Check out these books by Tom Turpin:

Flies in the face of fashion

What's Buggin You Now?

 

 

 

12-12-02

Download the audio of On Six Legs: MP3, WMV.

Christmas is Merrier without the Insects of Summer


The winter holiday season is a Currier and Ives magical time of the year. Jingle bells ring, and shoppers rush home with their packages. Cheeks get rosy, and frost forms on mittens. The landscape is serene in its stillness.

Serenity and Currier and Ives not withstanding, most of us don't look forward to winter. To be sure, sledding, skiing and ice skating are winter activities enjoyed by many. But the cold temperatures that make such things possible can be troublesome.

Who would say that frozen pipes, engines that don't start, ice-covered roads and frost-bitten toes are fun? While glistening snow piles beside driveways and sidewalks look great on postcards, creating them is work. In the cold, no less!

However, the winter season does mean that most insects are gone. No more worries about West Nile-carrying mosquitoes or stinging bees for a few months. But what would the holiday season be if winter did not intercede? A buzzing one that's what!

A Buzzing Christmas  

Christmas comes 'round but once every year,
A very happy season with friends drawing near,
But a great joy of Christmas, some fogey might say,
Is that the insects of summer have all gone away.
But what if those pests would just happen to stay
Ana share the good tidings of our Christmas Day?

Would picnic beetles so lively and quick
Fall from the skies in place of St. Nick?
Would the yuletide dinner not seem quite right
In the presence of mosquitoes that buzz and that bite?
And a Christmas hot toddy could provide a real sting
If to it a stray yellow jacket would wing.

Of course, tasty egg nog with nutmeg suspended
Would cover up gnats unintentionally upended.
The sweetness of punch, not to mention the candy
Would certainly attract ants and come in quite handy
For these insects to carry as they march underground
To their nest where their larvae can always be found.

A ladybug ornament, a fine decoration,
May just brighten up any yule celebration,
But how disconcerting it certainly would be
To find real, live insects chewing the tree!
Not to mention webworms on wreaths filled with snow,
Or beetles and loopers throughout mistletoe.

So when carols are finished and Christmas is done,
Look back and count all your blessings -- each one.
Reflect on the times and the season so great
And the holiday magic we all celebrate.
Tis indeed a season of good will and great cheer,
For not even one bug did dare interfere!

 

 

Writer: Tom Turpin
Editor: Olivia Maddox