Summer season bugs; some are magical

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From Janice Lindsay, Contributing Author

Janice Lindsay

I woke up around midnight and couldn’t sleep when I looked out the window as lights flickered across the lawn behind our house.

Fireflies work magically in the silent darkness.

We found ourselves in this quiet season after the spring showers had finished their nightly symphony and before what I call the “August hum” began, the cicadas, crickets and katydids that late summer night seems to me magically with Twittering and rough mumbling.

Not all summer insects are magical. In my view.

Japanese beetles, for example. I first met Käfer as a child in our grandfather’s house. The beetles insisted on nibbling Grandpa’s grapevines. Every evening he poured a little kerosene into a Maxwell House coffee pot and escorted the beetles one by one into the can, from which there was no turning back. Once he invited my sister and me to help. That night I dreamed that I was wearing a dark green sweater covered with vengeful Japanese beetles.

I recovered from this nightmare. As an adult, I spent many evenings hurling Japanese beetles from our raspberry bushes into buckets of soapy water, and I’m pretty sure that kerosene is not environmentally correct.

And I remember our spring mud wasp adventure when Dick and I got married for the first time. Our house had been built the previous summer. One night we noticed a small dark spot on the cream-colored wallpaper in the hallway. The spot spun. A mud wasp was chewing its way out of the drywall: chewing, twisting, chewing until its head popped out. Then came his front legs. It pressed its legs against the wall, trembling with the effort. Slowly a black body appeared, gray with drywall dust and plopped into the empty glass that we had so thoughtfully provided.

Summer insects like fireflies can be magical.  “Lupins and fireflies” Photo by Mike Lewinski / Creative Commons

We went to bed and wondered if an army of wasps was chewing its way into our hallway. We closed the bedroom door as we didn’t want to see a line of mud wasps staring at us from the foot of the bed. But this alone was apparently trapped on the drywall and is a doll when the house was built and was born into an uncomfortable environment.

Okay, maybe that mud wasp seemed a bit magical that spent all winter developing in the drywall.

But I don’t find anything magical about fruit flies. Any ripening – or rotting or fermenting – vegetable or fruit is prime property for a fruit fly. It’s a nice place for Mama Fly to lay 100-1000 eggs that will grow up in about a week, mate in two days, fly around my kitchen which is very annoying, and die a few days later, but not soon enough for me. Fortunately, they can be sealed in red wine or apple cider vinegar, which has a drop of dish soap in it. They die well fed and happy.

The least magical of all insects – in my opinion – is the tick. It is said that Mother Nature has a use for every creature, but she might have screwed these up.

I am proud of my Dead Tick Collection. I saved the deer tick that bit me because you are supposed to do that for future references even though I was taking the prescribed double dose of antibiotics. The other ticks in my collection are deer ticks and wood ticks, which I fortunately have bitten. How to catch a tick. Pick it up with the sticky side of some tape, fold another sticky side over it. One tick less to plague the world.

I don’t kill insects indiscriminately. I only ship insects that (a) want my food or (b) consider me food. Everyone else is magical.

Contact jlindsay@tidewater.net

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