Last night was Perseids night--we had our lawn chairs out, the full moon's light blocked by the garage at our backs. The mosquitoes, our state bird, were scarce enough that we had not slathered on whatever state-of-the-art organic compounds we use to ward off 6-legged critters these days.

Joe Westerberg, Joshua Tree National Park, California, Aug. 11, 2007

We saw a bat, a welcome sight. Then two. Now a third.

We held still, lying on our chairs, watching the bats chase bugs and each other, a spectacular aerial show against the deep gray-violet of the late dusk sky. And we realized that, really, the mosquitoes were remarkably scant.

A bat swooped up from the ground by our feet, no doubt, munching away. We watched the acrobats flip from their invisible trapezes a few more moments, then one swooped inches from our heads.

Now we know that bats tangling in your hair is an old wives' tale, but the few mosquitoes buzzing about our heads was tempting enough to the bats to show off their aerial skill a tad too close, and as much as we appreciated their predation, we scurried back inside.

Though we missed the main event, the Perseids changed our world in subtle ways:

  • A few of my red blood cells gulped by a mosquito (or two) ended up in the belly of a bat, now broken down into tiny pieces. Some of it will become part of that bat, some released as carbon dioxide in the bat's breath, possibly captured by the Brussels sprouts nearby, which I will eat after November's first frost.


The meteor photo was taken by Joe Westerberg, lifted from, used with permission.

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