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Posts Tagged ‘writing about bugs’

There is a lot I don’t know about insects, spiders, and bugs. I do know they are connected to memories, sometimes traumatic memories. I had no idea my family had so many connected memories about bugs and creepy crawlers until this Writing Topic was posted and I started reading their comments. Memories are part of the family glue.

I had forgotten about the yellow jackets in my sister’s long blonde hair. She had the blondest of locks. So did two of my brothers, though they have lost most of their hair now. Why is it that blonde hair turns darker with age?

It is traumatic to be stung by a bee when you are a kid. I have only one memory of a bee sting. I was playing on a red and green swing set, I think it was when we lived in Tennessee. For some dumb reason, I stuck my finger into a hole, maybe where a bolt used to be. Or where the hollowed out space of the metal tubing meets and joins. The pain was instant. So was the scream. There were yellow jackets in there. Or were they wasps?

What is the difference between a wasp and a yellow jacket? I remember the doodlebugs (I read that they are larvae). Last night I was trying so hard to remember the song. I think I remember the tune..doodlebug, doodlebug, come out to play – kind of like the k-i-s-s-i-n-g tune of “blank and blank, sittin’ in a tree”….that’s what I remember. And there is reference to the doodlebug’s house. But what are the words?

I remember part of the doodlebug ritual is swirling your index finger in the pile of sand hovering over the wrinkled gray ball of a bug. Swirling, swirling, swirling, like a finger in delectable cake batter. I have fond memories of doodlebugs. Not of ants. Fire ants were the worst. I watched the same Animals Gone Bad show oliverowl did last night. It talked about the history of fire ants, and killer bees, and the tree frogs that have invaded Hawaii.

The animals are acting the way they always have. It is humans that have changed. Humans in their quest for excellence, always end up messing with Nature – that one last good thing. Transporting one species in to eradicate another, messing up the balance of things. That’s what happened with the killer bees. An aggressive species of bee (I forget which one) was imported and mated with the honeybee.

Then there were the Asian carp, only a stone’s throw away from invading the Great Lakes. They respond to electricity and were leaping out of the water, huge carp, jumping in droves. It was like something out of a sci-fi movie. They eat everything desirable that fish like perch need to survive. Carp are bottom feeders, mate like crazy, and are NOT good eatin’.

I remember my dad bringing a giant carp home from a fishing trip once. It was the largest fish I had ever seen. Where did the Asian carp come from? If memory serves, they were imported into Arkansas in the 1950’s to stock a river or lake? Memory fades.

When I was a kid, I used to walk up and down our driveway on Audubon Circle and snap ants off the end of a bullwhip given to me by my Uncle Bill. I loved that bullwhip. It had a worn wooden handle, dirt etched into the rough grain of the wood. Brads fastened the braided leather of the whip to the pine handle. It was way too long for my 9-year-old body. But I made it work anyhow.

To this day, I think that’s part of the reason I have such good eye-hand coordination – spending hours in the sultry summers, slow walking the driveway, rapt concentration, snapping ants at the end of a whip. I’m horrified at that now. I elect not to kill any sentient beings if I can help it. Every insect, critter, and creepy-crawler has a purpose on this planet.

But I’ve got to tell you, the bugs Down South are a force to be reckoned with. It’s not the casual sugar ant we get in Minnesota. Or the little black ants that invade a picnic by Lake Harriet. It’s the fierce pinchers and stingers of the fire ant, the venomous bite of the water moccasin, tenacious roaches (creatures who refuse to die and only show themselves at night), and the black widow spider I watched weave a 4-foot web between scratchy branches of Carolina pine.

I miss the fireflies, the aurora borealis of the insect world. I love fireflies. And never see them in Minnesota. I used to catch them in a glass jar, add a little Tennessee grass, poke holes in the metal lid with the hooked T of a manual can opener, and carry them into my room at night. Insects will be on this earth until the end of time. We might as well learn how to live with them.

In reality, the more we invade their spaces and build on their habitat, the more we will perceive them as a nuisance. They are mutable, adaptable, and evolve more quickly than humans (I just flashed on a memory of flying ants. Those things used to freak me out). Through eons of galactic evolution, insects and creepy crawlers are way ahead of the game. They are not afraid of change.


-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – INSECTS & SPIDERS & BUGS, OH MY! and big spider haiku

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I don’t know much about bugs. Not their scientific names nor which ones are considered to be insects and which are not. I think insects are a subset of a larger group called arthropods, of which spiders are also a subset. And I think there is something about a bug’s body — how many sections it has and how many legs — that makes it an insect or not. But honestly, I must have been asleep during that part of Biology.

And, where do we learn about bugs? Is it 6th grade Science?

I remember toads, the ones we dissected in Mr. Gruner’s 10th grade Biology class. I remember how we made fun of Sheila R. for how she used her long manicured nails to pull the large intestine away from the frog’s stomach lining, and how later, as she ate her ham and mustard sandwich at lunch she took her thumb and mined and licked the mustard from under the same fingernail she used earlier to poke at the toad.

Ew, Laurie Harris and I said in unison. We didn’t like Sheila’s thick auburn hair, which she expertly styled. Laurie’s thin hair barely held a quasi-Farrah Faucett flip, which she got only after holding the curling iron for way more seconds than she was supposed to. Me, I had major hair envy. And nail envy, and height envy. It was satisfying to see Sheila inadvertently eat toad innards with every lick of mustard.

I know some people have bug phobias, like Aunt Erma, who once freaked out inside a moving car when she saw a moth flutter on the dashboard. We were headed from Grandma’s house to the racetrack, and I thought Uncle Henry was going to swerve off the highway, what with Erma lurching this way and that on the front bench seat. Tina and I were in the back, already sitting low since we considered ourselves too cool to be riding with her parents. When Erma started flailing and screaming, we sunk even lower.

I think I have a healthy respect for bugs. Today I raked leaves for two hours in the back courtyard and underneath the almost black loam of partially decomposed leaves I unearthed two healthy earthworms. They were fat and lively, writhing in the sudden light and air. I picked them up with gloved hands and walked them to the bunches of daffodils growing under the apricot tree.

I hope they managed to burrow into a cool spot down in that dirt, where they will continue to fatten and eat grubs and other bad bugs. I wonder, are earthworms insects?


-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – INSECTS & SPIDERS & BUGS, OH MY!

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