Bookmark and Share

Take a lesson from the dance fly

The economy can be terrible, but you still have to acknowledge your undying love for your loved one.

With the cost of a dozen long-stemmed roses pushing $70 (delivered) and a heart-shaped pendant with a scattering of diamond specks going for $350, cash-strapped mates might consider taking a lesson from the dance fly.

For the first gift-giving occasion, impress him (or her) with a present that screams, “I have wealth in such abundance I can shower you with valuable goodies!”

Next time, wrap an equally pricey gift in the most impressive package you can find. Now you are in the home stretch. For each subsequent occasion, you can try to get away with just giving the package.

Well, it works for bugs.

Let’s look at tiny creatures called “dance flies” that do not have an ornate tail or much else to signal their sex appeal (as peacocks do). So the male shows off his fitness through his largess, bringing a female a big dead fly, for example, so that she can nibble on it while he mates with her. The hidden message: I am big and strong enough to schlep this carcass all over the meadow, and if you mate with me, our kids will be big and strong, too.

But, among some dance flies, cheating is rampant. Many a male brings his intended a worthless gift, such as a bit of silk he makes with special glands. How do the cads get away with it?

To find out, biologists have swooped down on pairs of dance flies just before they were in flagrante delicto. They carefully removed the “nuptial gift,” simultaneously replacing it with either a bit of bug or a cotton ball. The female didn’t seem to notice the switch. Although pairs mated longest (fertilizing the most eggs) when the female noshed on a large edible gift, females who received a worthless cotton ball let a male mate just as long as when they got a small edible gift.

Over the years, biologists suspect, a few males decided to heck with lugging along a dead fly to their assignation, and instead bestowed just an insect fragment, wrapped in easily carried silk to make it look bigger. Getting good results, some males began skipping the snack and presenting just a worthless wisp of silk. That way they got to invest less in sex (less foraging for a nuptial gift) and still reap all the rewards. I hope this strategy of cheating does not portend female mate preferences as being susceptible to males who cheat.

To impress your beloved this Sunday, you need not cheat nor do you need to pull together ingredients, cook a killer dinner and serve it by candlelight. A simpler method is to consider purchasing a couple of United Way dining certificates. Who would not be impressed with getting to eat a romantic dinner out, getting full dollar-for-dollar value for your dining certificate purchase, and helping the less fortunate in the community at the same time?

Twenty local restaurants have agreed to participate in United Way’s dining certificate fund-raising program. While you get $25 worth of food for your $25 gift certificate purchase, the restaurant donates $5 to United Way for each certificate submitted. These funds are then passed on to local human service agencies that help make our community a better place to live. Dining certificates are available at the Chamber of Commerce and the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center.

Racquetball clinic

Racquetball is a good year-round activity here in Pagosa country. At the recreation center, we have most definitely seen a growth in that particular sport. This Saturday, February 13, the recreation center will conduct a clinic for beginners and intermediate players.

The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to noon. You will be taught proper stroke mechanics, court positioning, drills, overall physical conditioning, game strategy, etc. Call Todd at the recreation center (731-2051) if you are interested in participating this weekend or if you would like to join upcoming clinics. Private lessons are also available.

Ice fishing tourney

Just a reminder, the Pagosa Lakes Winter Ice Fishing Tournament is this Saturday at Village Lake. The tournament begins at 9:30 a.m. and will run until 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at Eagle Mountain Mercantile, the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center and the Pagosa Lakes Administration Office in Vista. Ticket price is $10 pre-purchase and $15 on tournament day. Ticket revenue will be used for cash prizes for winners of largest fish by weight for trout, bass, perch and crappie. This is a little different than we’ve done it in years past. We also will have an additional Grand Slam tournament category, where the heaviest combined weight of any four species of fish will win a cash prize.

The fishing on Village Lake has been consistently good this winter, and we are looking forward to a fun day. Kids 16 and under fish for free and will compete for some nice fishing tackle prizes. If you are planning on attending we suggest parking at the boat ramp location on the south side of the lake off of Lakeside Drive or on the north side of the lake on North Shore Circle which is located off of Northlake Avenue.

If you would like more information, call the Pagosa Lakes Administration Offices at 731-5635.