a bug's wife 

They fly slowly and erratically, making them easy prey for birds. But that's the advantage to dating so early in the year — most predatory birds are still in warmer lands.

The behavior of the male stonefly, says James River Park Manager Ralph White, is much like that of human male courtship behavior: "They're out looking for females, trying to get it on, and they're having lack of success. And they go up to a stick, or a board, or a branch, and they beat their head against it. And that's how they attract females" — by producing sexy vibrations.

Lovestruck stoneflies are out already along the banks of the James, White says. "You can see them flying if you walk along the paths or along the meadows." After mating, females lay eggs in the water and then die. Adults live no more than a week. "They spend almost all their lives underwater, fattening up, eating algae and plankton, and sometimes one another, parts of one another especially," White says. "Then they come out for a frantic couple of weeks. … they come out, fly around and meet the opposite sex."

Ahh, sweet romance. — Melissa Scott


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