I have learned a lot of interesting things while volunteering for the historical society of my county. Right now I am in the society's museum, looking at the only known photograph of an unknown insect; the photo itself is a black-and-white still of a lost preserved specimen, and remains the only graphic evidence of the local legend. Though the resolution is poor, the specimen looks quite formidable for its size: a mothlike insect sporting long mandibles and antennae, somewhat resembling a dobsonfly.

Apparently, there were swarms of these things in scattered areas throughout our county for several weeks during the summer of 1828. They were mainly active at night, and several sources mention that their red eyes could be seen faintly glowing in the dark. It is unclear exactly what their diet was like, but they were said to have decimated crops and killed several pets and livestock. One source claims they consumed blood from humans, but this has not been corroborated. We do know that they had stingers. A few children and elderly folks died from their stings, which the few physicians who lived in the region at the time were almost completely unable to treat. Except for a couple of primary documents that mention a similar swarm event occurring in 1628 in the same area, this is the only known appearance of these insects.

Recently, an entomologist has been working with the historical society to explore the story further. With only the photograph and some period documents, he does not have many leads, but he has come up with a theory based on the two references to a similar occurrence in 1628. Some insects lie dormant in the ground or in wood for years at a time, emerging after several years to mate, reproduce, and die, whereupon their offspring burrow back into the earth to repeat the cycle. A well-known example is the magicicada, which emerges and swarms at 13- and 17-year intervals in many regions throughout the Midwest. The entomologist believes the strange insects from 1828 were on a 200-year brood cycle, something he had previously thought impossible.

I hope he is wrong.

Written by HopelessNightOwl
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