Friday, April 1, 2005
When and where seen: Litterbugs are seldom seen but evidence of their presence is easily detected at this time of year as the snow melts and their droppings (sometimes vivid, even lurid) emerge along the sides of the roads. They seem to travel all the roads of Carlisle as well as the conservation land. They can be found anywhere on the planet, be it land or sea, and also in space and on the moon. They are starting to spread to other planets.
Distinguishing characteristics: Litterbugs are a polymorphic species but there are some shared characteristics. Like all bugs, the litterbug has mouthparts that are adapted for sucking. Unlike other bugs, the arms and legs are well adapted for driving vehicles, and the hands and arms are adapted for grasping and throwing.
Evidence: Just as the litterbug itself has many shapes and forms, so too does the Discardia perennis that it leaves behind. Most Discardia is of little value and is hollow; some is made of glass, has a longish neck, and a circular opening; some is made of metal, has no neck at all, and has an oval-shaped opening; some has a narrow plastic tubular extension about 8 to 10 inches long to assist the bug in sucking the contents. In all these cases, the Discardia previously contained some kind of nectar favored by the particular sub-species. Litterbugs can be quite specialized there are some that don't suck nectar. The tobaccophile sucks smoke. On March 26, there was a large collection of tobaccophile Discardia appropriately located at the entrance to the Central Burying Ground. On March 23, an aerosol can that had previously contained orange marking paint, emerged from the snow at the Banta-Davis land. One can infer the presence of the extremely specialized waste-water-testing species which doesn't suck the contents of containers- it uses the container itself to spit, squirt, and hiss.
Control: The litterbug is a noxious pest which needs to be swatted but so far there is no legitimate pesticide. Controls include education, peer pressure, convenient location of trash barrels, recycling centers such as those at the transfer station, SUVs with ever more cupholders, and enforcement of regulations. There are Mass state regulations targeted specifically at littering from a motor vehicle. Some damage control is provided by the very selective Scavenger beetle which earns 5 cents per item of Discardia redeemed.
Ed note — The Mosquito Trash Party will be Saturday, April 9 from 9 a.m. to noon. No fooling!
© 2005 The Carlisle Mosquito