Insect populations are in steep decline worldwide, and it's evident locally. Twenty years ago, when I opened the kitchen window for a few seconds at night, a dense cloud of moths and beetles would pour in. Today, it’s down to two or three mosquitoes. I cannot remember when I last had to stop the car to scrub dead bugs off the windshield. With COVID, Trump, and West Coast fires raging, what better time to find out what is still bustling in the neighborhood? It’s my attempt to claim exemption from Nobel laureate Louise Glück’s dictum that “We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.” I will concede, though, that presbyopia and a stiff back have made meeting my subjects on their turf more arduous than it once was. In elementary school, I had a reputation for catching lizards with their tails intact. I try to summon that facility when framing, say, a skittish camel cricket, the basement-dwelling high jumper most familiar from foiling any attempt on its life. Happily, my best specimen let me squeeze off one perfectly focused shot before it bolted from the set.
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