Bug Hero

Lately, I've been rescuing insects, and I'm not sure why I keep finding myself in a position to do so, let alone why I'm inclined to do so. It's been a very strange week for me in many ways. First there was that spider last weekend, the one in my sink who was spared for photogenic qualities. It would not be my last act of mercy however. Late Thursday night, exhausted from the day's events, I shuffled in to the kitchen for a glass of water. The room was illuminated from the hallway behind me, but otherwise set in shadow. I noticed a crumb on top of our white toaster oven, and thought it was a bit of bread. As I leaned in, the thing suddenly CLICKED and leapt about a foot in the air, even as I stumbled back and said a word approximating “boowahguhuhuhuh!” I felt cold and itchy at the same time, and shrunk back down the hall to my room as I contemplated how to deal with it, should I find it again. I looked around and spotted a water bottle that just had a few drops left in it. Shaking it dry, I snuck back in to the kitchen and looked around. It was gone.

Cautiously, I flipped on the light, and very carefully pushed aside a piece of tin foil on top of the oven. Sure enough, the invader was there, probably as scared as I had been. I put the bottle over him, and he didn't react. I looked around, trying to figure out how I was going to extricate him if he didn't climb up into the bottle. I definitely didn't want bug guts on the toaster oven. I spied a piece of junk mail on the table, and slid it between the toaster and the bug, under the bottle. I carried this construction through my living room, fearing dropping the bottle and the thing leaping at me. I thought it might be what I've erroneously referred to as a Potato Bug for years, until a horror story from Rhodester about a screaming Jerusalem Cricket taught me that I had no notion of what a Potato Bug really was. Research proved that the only other bug to share that nickname is the Woodlouse, which I've always referred to as a Pillbug. Whatever it was that I had caught Thursday night, was of a breed that I knew from experience pinched with amazing force. I managed to get this one outside, lift the bottle, and quickly close the door to my veranda.

Of course after staring at the closed door, I realized I had to get my camera. At first I tried to shoot through the screen door, but my camera kept focusing on the screen. I realized I had to open the door, and risk the thing leaping back into the house. I only got one picture, and I didn't even realize a curious little ant had wandered on to the scene until I uploaded it to my computer. Friday morning the junk mail was there, but no insects. If there was a battle, I couldn't tell you who won.

Friday should have been free of similar incidents. My morning was quiet, and a walk in to town at lunch on a cloudy day was equally uneventful. After lunch I was sitting at my computer working when I caught a fleeting glimpse, out of the corner of my eye, at something bright, bright green against my striped black dress shirt. I looked down and saw a grasshopper making his way toward an opening near a button. As an artist and an amateur photographer, I should have admired the composition, the vivid color against the dark background. Instead, I kicked my chair back, arms flailing as I exclaimed “boowahguhuhuhuh!” By some miracle, no one saw nor heard me, at least that I was aware of. My attention was focused elsewhere. Changing course, my new friend decided to start walking UP the shirt toward my neck. I looked down my chest at shiny, round green eyes that for some reason cried “mama!” I looked around for help, and spotted my trusty stack of Starbucks napkins. Can anyone guess what happened next?

I held the napkin flat against my chest, my chin touching my chest to see the critter as it got closer. It scampered on to the napkin and I lifted it away, holding it in the palm of my left hand. I expected it to jump at any second. But it stood still and gazed up at me. “Where are we going mama?”, inquired the imaginary voice in my head as I got up, left my section, and started walking down one of the rows of cubicles. I shielded it from wind with my right hand as I wondered the answer to that question myself. I made a right, then a left at the stairwell, opening doors with my feet. I walked down three flights of stairs, nodded hello to a woman on her way up, and continued on. I walked around past our ATM machine, past the front security desk and to the front door, where I stood aside to let a couple enter. I walked outside and looked around for an appropriate flower bed. I tried to shake it off on to some yews but it wouldn't budge. I walked a little further to a bed of pachysandra, and again it remained on the napkin. “But I want to stay with you, mama!” Plucking a leaf, I gently nudged my little friend on to the plant with it. It blended in, and walked down into the plants. They grow up and leave home so fast. I returned to the building, depositing the napkin in the nearest trash receptacle.

I spent the rest of the afternoon questioning my sanity and scratching imaginary itches. It's the price of being an unwitting, possibly insane, bug hero.


Blogger Darrell said...

Although the picture you took isn't an exact match with the appearance (mostly due to the absence of antennae), I'd still almost be willing to bet that the bug on the toaster oven was a click beetle.

That second link is to a wikipedia article, and the click beetle pictured there looks even less like the ones I've seen than your bug looks. Colloquially, we call 'em "snap bugs" around these parts. As kids, we used to try to carefully catch them and put them on their backs just to watch them snap themselves upright again.

Of course, my childhood was pre-Nintendo, so summer days spent catching bugs was considered normal child behavior at the time. Heck, our parents used to buy us toys engineered to encourage that pursuit. This was in the 70s, which was approximately a million years ago. Back then, kids spent their summer days outside. By comparison, our three children are developing an Xbox-controller carpal tunnel problem and we have to use pointy sticks to actually force them to go outside and play.

6/24/2006 10:55 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

I'm not sure which is stranger...you rescuing insects or you taking the time to photograph them.:)

6/24/2006 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DEFINITELY a click beetle.

8/13/2007 2:29 PM  

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