Nature is brutally beautiful. It keeps us alive but does not let live forever. This is the story of a battle in nature I witnessed on May 13.
Spring was gradually being replaced by summer. Every year during this time, in the evenings, we see these strange creatures. We call them ‘chhichimira’. I don’t know what it is but my parents used to tell that they are winged-ants. Because the queen and the males fly to mate, it might be true, although I cannot surely say if ants mate during the evening or if a certain species follows the pattern. All I know is that they are attracted to light just like moths and they have extremely short life. They stick on to electric bulbs, fluorescent lamps and LED bulbs as well. They fly for about fifteen minutes and they shed their transparent wings; then fall off dead. I usually examine them at that stage and they do look like ants. But I haven’t seen any of them fly away alive (the saddest part). I will call them winged-ants for the sake of convenience.
That evening, I was sitting in my room bored after long hours of exam preparation. The curtains had been pulled down to avoid the entrance of insects (It’s compulsory during spring and summer.) because of which the room was getting hot. Two insects of the kind I have mentioned above came into the room, however. (Failure of the curtains!) I just kept staring at them as if there was no work to do. They danced up and down and around the LED bulb on the wall in front of me. As I was watching them, I noticed a small movement on the right. From behind the tube light (it was not being used at that time because of the power cut off), a spider, too had been watching the movements of the insects.
It turned out to be the smartest between them. As soon as one of the insects had flown upwards, the spider rushed (crawling on the wall) and pounced upon it. All these (from my first sight of the spider to its pouncing upon the helpless winged-ant) had happened within three seconds! I could not believe my eyes. I had seen an extraordinary sight. Yet I had presence of mind because I got the later struggled captured on my camera.
The predator had grabbed the prey’s head. The prey wanted to get out. It flapped it’s wings for a while in vain. Sometime later, it gave up struggling and the spider started dragging its meal upwards. It was a difficult task. Firstly, it had to climb a vertical wall backwards carrying its prey. Secondly, the partner of the insect which had been pounced upon was luring the spider to drop its meal. The another winged-ant tried frantically to reach the spider but it never went very close. Two or three times, it had reached near the spider, I thought the spider would leave the one on its mouth and grab the other instead. But the spider did not leave the grip on its food. Neither did it give any attention to the second one. For it had flown for long already and its attempt (if I can call it, though it was nothing of the sort) of saving its friend had weakened it. After some minutes of it flight (the longest among these insects I have ever seen), it gave up. Most probably, it died.