You knew them first as children, crawling under the back porch of Grandma's house to peer into those mysterious dimples in the warm sand. Perhaps with a pine needle, or a single hair purposely plucked from your sister's scalp, you poked at the slopes of a cavity, the sand grains cascading abruptly toward the bottom. And maybe you whispered a brief incantation:Doodlebug, doodlebug, Come out of your hole. Your house is on fire, Your children are alone.
Then a flash of movement, and the barest glimpse of a pair of pincers, and your playmate disappeared.
Two thousand species of doodlebugs dimple the earth's surface, so children everywhere share such close encounters. The larvae of primitive insects called neuropterans, doodlebugs metamorphose into damselflylooking adults inhabiting sandy-soiled areas, laying their eggs at dry cave openings (or under porches and eaves) or on open forest floors (or abandoned city lots). Once hatched, the larvae wriggle their way across the vacant surface, leaving meandering trails resembling the hasty strokes of preoccupied artists.
A doodlebug doodles until it finds a perfect hideout--a sunny spot sheltered from wind and rain. Pushing itself backward, a bug draws a quarter-sized circle on the ground, then digs deeper and deeper, spiraling toward the center, flinging out...
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