They impelled themselves in mad arcs, rather than flew, towards the porch light: airborne armadas of brown hard-backed buzzing creatures about half an inch long. But they did not see the wall and they crashed into it. And then they fell on the floor, upside down, and could not right themselves.
I put around citronella candles. But they were not deterred. Because they are not mosquitoes. They were attracted. One zeroed in on a candle like a kamikaze pilot at a navy ship, and found itself upside down in molten wax, waving clawed tentacles or legs or whatever an entomologist calls them in the air. I picked him out because I felt pity for such utter stupidity. I threw him into the darkness, away from the porch, but the wax probably solidified in the air and he will end up a fossil to be discovered by some future scientist sixty million light years from now. A beetle embalmed in wax!
It was nine o'clock, a warm night with a northerly still blowing straight down from the Queensland outback and straight across New South Wales, riding roughshod across the Great Divide and dumping itself in Melbourne's northern suburbs.
The brown beetles rode in on that northerly, probably from somewhere near Longreach, or Cunnamulla, or Cobar, or Bourke. Or maybe they just surfed down from Craigieburn, catching the last few miles. I don't know. It doesn't matter. They ended up on my porch disturbing my summer evening. One fell in my drink. One clawed my hair with his tentacled legs. I had to pull him out. One got inside the house when I went in to refresh my drink and started dementedly zapping at the walls in the hallway. It was easy to get him outside. They all eventually end up on their backs.
Outside in the warm evening again, I made a strategic withdrawal. I moved my chair off the porch and down to the lower front lawn near the Queen Elizabeth rose waving her pink blooms in the warm air. The new position still caught the porch light for reading, but the bugs were well overhead now.
I read for forty-five minutes, and on the way back into the house, I noticed in the fading light a black stain against the paleness of the side fence. The black stain was a spider with short legs and a fat one-inch body of finest black velvet. Her front legs were busy and she was binding up one of the brown beetles.
It was my dinnertime too.