09 September 2006

Big Bugs

So they've got a lot of bugs here south of the M-DL* and they grow 'em BIG. If you're a regular reader (um, yeah, like all two o' ya), you'll recall last fall's Spider Chronicles (Episodes I, II & III), which featured Jack, the great, big, yellow-and-black arachnid who had taken up residence in our living room window and who I was, bravely and against every natural instinct that I have, using as a science lesson for Ms. Four. Now Jack was large as spiders go – she definitely warranted classification as a Big Bug. But Jack had nothing on some of the too-many-leggeds we've come across since moving to our new abode. Most of them have warranted classification as Downright Monstrous.

Example # 1: Cave Crickets. Don’t they sound cute? They’re not. Nothing that gigantic is cute. I'm sure they have a scientific name (I don't know it), but I’m not sure why anyone would think to call them crickets, because from my perspective, there’s nothing even remotely cricket-ish about them. If they chirp appealingly like regular crickets, I’ve never heard them, and in all honesty they look a whole lot more like giant cockroaches than anything. I know this, because I caught one not too long ago. No, good grief, of course I didn't deliberately go looking for one. I just found A Gigantic Thing lurking by the back door early one morning and quickly (and bravely and against every natural instinct that I have) clapped a glass over it so it could be exterminated by The Husband, since I was sure it was a cockroach.

Example # 2: Wasps. I don’t like wasps. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that the wasp is the only insect ever to have stung me (apparently, the rest can’t fly fast enough to keep up with me running away from them). That was long ago and far, far North of the M-DL where there is only one variety of wasp to the untrained and terrified eye. They are plenty big enough, thank you. Down here in The South there are at least two varieties of wasp to the untrained and terrified eye – red and black – and both are Downright Monstrous. (Think flying golf ball with legs. And stinger.). The Husband keeps an old tennis racket (we call it the Wasp Whacker) handy to keep them at bay when they trespass on our patio (hey, I paid a lot of money for that patio…and there’s plenty of space in the yard, or better yet other people’s yards, for them).

The red ones also appear to be rather aggressive, swooping and diving towards one’s head to defend their territory (or right to exist … or something). I’m embarrassed to admit I got cornered by the other day. Imagine this: a 140 (give or take a few) pound woman with broom (I was sweeping off the front steps), immobilized by an irate insect (I had inadvertently swiped it with the broom) one ten-thousandth her weight crawling piteously across the concrete (having been injured by said broom swipe). It had me pinned, sweating and adrenalized, for five full minutes before I could work up the courage to spear it with the business end of the broom (No, I did NOT have the balls to step on it with my teva’d foot – what if I missed? what if it moved as I went to deliver the crushing stomp?).

Example # 3: Cicadas. I know, I know. Cicadas are perfectly harmless. They don’t bite. They don’t sting. They’re positively miraculous because they only crawl out the ground every 17 years. Yada-yada-yada. They also look like a mega-huge house fly, make an alarming buzzing noise when they fly and are prone to crashing into people who get in their way, which while not hazardous can be quite distressing when unexpected (I speak from experience on this one).

And check out these pictures of actual cicada … er, parts … direct from my very own yard. The first picture – the one of the mud covered … thing… clinging to the post – is a cicada that has recently extracted itself from the ground. (I thought it was just a huge-ass beetle. Thank goodness for The Husband, else I would walk around totally ignorant of so many things.) The second one is a cicada. A live cicada. Which I happen to know, because I prodded it with a stick to find out and it buzzed, rather petulantly, that it was.

Example # 4: Cicada Killers. This bug tops all lists of Downright Monstrosity. In fact, I personally have to file these guys under Fucking Knarly. They're straight out of a horror movie, take a look (that thing is sitting on a business card). They are actually a form of wasp, but they look more like mini hovercraft - fully three inches long and bigger around than a cigarette. And they're territorial in the extreme – they make wasps look like they're homeless. If you get too close to their underground burrow when they're home, they fly this figure eight pattern around the entrance that is the most menacing aerial display by at insect that I've ever seen. In fact, it’s so menacing, I’ve considered having The Husband take the Wasp Whacker to the one in our yard, which is against my general let’s-get-along-with-nature-when-we’re-outside take on life, but I can only scream like a ninny and grab my children so many times a week, ya know.

Incidentally, their name is a definite misnomer. They don't actually kill cicadas, they hunt cicadas. Then they paralyze them, drag them back to their burrows and lay their eggs in the cicada’s helpless and still living bodies so that their young have fresh meat when they emerge. Nice.

When does it get cold around here, anyway? Yeesh.


Queen K said...

Errr...are you TRYING to get me to cancel my tickets?!? Because I love my neices, but braving those horrors is a bit much!! I've held firm that you live on another planet. Now I know it's true.

Bethanie said...

Hey, now! No ticket cancelling! (You DID get an interstellar flight, right??) They're all outside, the buggies. Well, most of them are outside... And we promptly evict the ones we find inside. :-D And there are also lots and lots of butterflys! Heh.