Every year about this time, the fig beetles appear. These large scarabs can be seen buzzing around fruit trees and whacking into things. They don't seem to have very good vision; I've seen them bounce off people and walls. With a window, you have an excuse. Fig beetles got no excuse.
The thing about fig beetles, they're as harmless as a bug can be, unless you encounter one at 70 mph on the road. At high speeds, a fig beetle can have the impact of a karate strike. How do I know? I got nailed by one just under the chin guard the other day. Struck me right in the throat, and as an added bonus, fell down my jacket. If I were afraid of bugs, that could have been serious.
Here's the stupid thing about bugs. They're flying across the road. You see them and probably try to avoid them. And suddenly, you see them abandon their flight line to aim straight at you! Why? I have no idea. Maybe they're jealous. Maybe they hope to knock you over. Maybe they want revenge for DDT or global warming. I have no idea. But I do know this about bugs, there are a lot of them and most of them seem to want to commit suicide by bike.
Some insects migrate. These insects are infamous because nothing is as refreshing as riding through a flock of butterflies or grasshoppers, right? Their guts are cool and refreshing, not being warm blooded mammals. I think riding through a flock of bats on a hot night would be unpleasant on many levels.
One time I was at a truck stop, waiting to fuel up. A couple of people were poking around truck radiators with tweezers and jars. They were collecting insects to get a picture of what is found where, after receiving permission from a number of amused truckers. I had a look. From a motorcyclist's view, I'd call it a buffet. How'd you like to get hit in the face by a four inch long praying mantis with wings? They had one there. I wouldn't care for it. There were some pretty large moth wings stuck in the grill, too. And some weird things with eyes on the sides of their head like that sloth from Ice Age. I have no idea what they were, but I would hate to run into one.
One thing I learned a long time ago, bug guts can destroy paint. I don't know what kind of bugs these are, but they possibly have blood like the Alien that dissolves paint. Wipe that stuff off and don't let it dry for weeks before washing, or you'll have little bug goo splats in your finish.
So far, I haven't encountered any that dissolves flesh. And that's a good thing, because most of these bug migrations occur in summertime when it's too hot for full leather.
As I said, when you hit a bug, it is cool and refreshing. When you hit a whole herd of bugs, that's just disgusting. Especially when it's grasshoppers. They are full of mustard, or something that looks just like it. When I get one of those on my visor, I gag.
Swarms of bees are disgusting as well, just because there's so many of them. You will be picking dead bees out of your bike for months. They get everywhere, so take it to the bike wash and pressure wash everything. I hate dead bees falling out of my bike. It suggests I take poor care of it.
Beetles and grasshoppers hurt the most. The butterflies, not so much. Plus, they will bless your jacket with colorful wing scales and sometimes whole wings if you're all the way in the wind with no fairing. We get migrations of medium-sized Painted Lady butterflies here. Like the beetles, they'll be flapping across the road and for no reason aim straight at you. I wonder if we reflect light they like, or perhaps we smell good, like flowers. I kind of doubt that last one.
When life began on terrestrial Earth, insects were the first creatures to take to the air, enjoying unchallenged supremacy until some dang lizard figured out how to fly and started eating them. But let us not focus merely upon the bugs of the air.
The most disgusting thing happened while riding down to San Felipe one spring. It was the week before Easter and there had been thunderstorms and rain. The road was still unpaved south of the town, and the moisture (average rainfall, .08” per year) had brought out legions of giant, fat black caterpillars that were humping across the road in droves. It was unavoidable and disgusting. Thankfully, nobody went down in a caterpillar slick!
Happily, snakes are generally solitary and don't tend to move in herds. I'll usually dodge them, but I have been known to pull over and toss a fresh roadkill snake into a sack to skin out later. I have some pretty cool hat bands.
Then there was the time I was in a pickup truck in a town near Olympia, Washington during rainy season. There were salmon crossing the road! I am not making that up. I have no idea what running over a fish on a motorcycle would be like. I don't think about things like that much.
Which brings us to birds, which usually do not swerve to intentionally hit you, but they can be startled by your bike and flush right out in front of you.
The owner of Lightning Express, Chris Crew, took a pheasant to the helmet on a ride north of San Francisco. The bird actually split on his visor and then dropped into his lap. If it'd been me, I would have eaten it. Self-cleaning pheasant doesn't deliver itself every day!
I have hit a couple of quail that dinged off my turn signal. I went back for them, cleaned them right there by the side of the road and popped them in my cooler. It was a finer meal than the guys who were eating stew. I did not know quail were white meat. They are delicious.
Since they released wild turkeys in our county, I have had close encounters with two of them. Close, but no cigar or turkey dinner. Not sure I'd want to hunt turkey with my bike. They're big enough to hurt you.
If we go any further up the evolutionary ladder, we're going to get into a discussion about hooved rats, aka deer. Setting aside venison jokes and road-wandering dogs, cows and horses, this discussion would devolve into an argument about deer whistles; threat or menace. I have seen dogs pause when I passed by with the whistles on my NX250, mounted on the turn signals for better doppler effect. On the other hand, a guy I know who had the same whistles on his bike center-punched a doe. I say they work, he says they don't. Maybe he hit a deaf deer? The jury is still out on deer whistles.
If it creeps, runs or flies, sooner or later someone is going to run into it. Wash off the bugs. And for everything else? If it's fresh, it might be edible.