Monday, January 4, 2016

Hilo Serenaders

An award for most persistent and faithful wooer must go to the coqui.  The male frog spends all night calling out in loud, body-racking heaves to woo a female to come and mate.  And he does this every night of his adult life.
  Everyone who's spent a night in Hilo recently knows the ear-piercing racket these introduced pests from Puerto Rico make when one desperate serenader is multiplied by a dozen, a hundred, or a thousand--they get loud!  Many blame Walmart for importing them along with plants from the frog's native home land or the mayor/government officials who were slow to respond to the ever-growing environmental disaster, even worse than the introduced mongoose from plantation days.  But my purpose here is to look at things for once from the pathetic frog's perspective via anthropomorphization--thinking of them as if they were human...
  If I'd had to woo virginal Deanne with cries of affection (combined with threatening cries toward nearby rival males) every few seconds for hours on end, night after night, for years on end, would I have done it or succeeded?  No, I may have lasted a night or two, then become too lazy, tired, or disgusted at the lack of success and continued being a lonely (or content?) bachelor to this day.
  One observation from a recent trip back to Hilo, on New Year's day, I awoke at around two o'clock a.m. to virtual silence from the constant coqui racket, a silence that had no particular reason attached.  On prior nights, I awoke to greatly diminished rackets, but never one so complete.  What caused it?  The fireworks?  The weather?  There appeared no set pattern for either.  My current assumption?  The males had all found mates. But that raised the question, did these serenaders from evenings past all go without?  Were the females so super-finicky and hard-to-get and hard to please that they suffered these persistent cries unmoved or indifferent or with out-right turned-off disdain?  Or were the serenaders greedy can't-get-enough lotharios that upon conquering one female went right on back to their persistent calling, ever anxious to woo their next conquest?  Or were females possibly nympho sluts that in response to their lothario counterparts ever hopped from male to male as each cried for more, sexual appetites insatiable?
  This is where anthropomorphism can get disturbing and outright fallacious as animals are driven by an entirely different set of instinctive forces than humans who are guided by thought, reason, and emotion as well as instincts.  Nonetheless it's amusing to consider when bombarded by these calls unceasing hour after hour, night after night--it makes them a little more tolerable to have a sense of humor about them.
  Two nights later, the same eerie quietness occurred except for a lone distant caller from afar.  Perhaps most nearby males were getting older and more lethargic, voluntarily celibate through some nights?  Or settled down with pregnant mates, sated during later hours?  (I did do some research that suggested that males are good fathers, staying with the nest to guard against predators.)  Maybe as far as anthropomorphized animals go, coquis aren't so bad.  Certainly not as disturbing as praying mantises, say, whose males pay the price of coupling first with their heads, then their lives, and females die shortly after the act and laying a clutch of eggs.  (But I have an affinity toward praying mantises, they do so much good and look so cute, as far as insects go.  I had a pair that I kept as pets in a box that went through the entire later life cycle.  Yes, it was disturbing when I found them one on top of the other and when I tried to pull them apart, found they were attached at their bases!  And later after watching TV to try to erase the image, found a dead one on the floor, the legs and wings of another, and a clutch of eggs in the crook of a branch.  I unfortunately did not get to see the eggs hatch out as a jealous older neighborhood friend took the box and promised to call when they hatched out but never did.  His praying mantises had died, refusing to eat.  I guess some mantises, like humans, don't like being held captive either.  Now, hunger-striking insects, that's profound!)

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