Edward Southerland: Bugs
By Edward Southerland
Aug 11, 2017
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Something has been bugging me—crickets. A few weeks ago my apartment suddenly became Club Med for the noisy little buggers. As soon as it got dark, the place sounded like the bugs were tuning up for the cricket philharmonic. They were in the kitchen, the bathroom, and the bedroom, heard but unseen. If I walked into one of the rooms and stamped my foot or turned on the light, they would get quiet, then, as soon as I left, they would start up again. It was enough to make me want to squash Jimminie Cricket, even if he did teach me to spell encyclopedia. In China some people keep crickets in little cages as pets.I think I would get more satisfaction from a puppy or a guppy.

A couple of weeks later, after they had used up their vacation and sick days I suppose, the crickets got their act together and took it on the road. I suppose they are singing somewhere else now. Maybe it was the sudden cool snap in the middle of June that fooled them into thinking it was time to head south for the winter. No, wait, that’s birds that head south for the winter. Anyway, you get the idea.

Aside: I wonder if birds in South America fly north for the winter? But that’s another question all together.

Back to bugs. I have always sort of liked bugs. My grandfather introduced me to the doodle bugs that lived at the bottom of the little conical shaped holes in the powder soft dirt of his lumber yard. If you took a twig and agitated the sides of the hole the doodle bugs would come out to see if some other bug was dropping in for lunch, the doodle bug’s lunch that is.

Roly-poly bugs—some folks call them pill bugs—reminded me of little tanks, and they were fun to play with, curling up into balls when you poked at them with a stick. On the other hand, I never saw the reason for June bugs. They would gather in legions under the street lamps and on screen doors during the summer, and when you rode your bike down the street, they would crunch under the tires. Of course June bugs aren’t all that smart, what with hanging around in July and August.

Dragonflies were fun to watch and I always had a special thought for lady bugs and those water critters that ran along on the surface tension of puddles. And one could pass some time on a summer afternoon watching a bumble bee drone along, hovering among the flowers, and not be bored.

I sort of like spiders too. I will scoop them up on a piece of paper and put them outside when I find one in the house. This is on the grounds that they eat other bugs I don’t much like.

Of course for every fun bug, there was a raft of not so fun bugs. Tarantulas were a little to scary to mess with, even though some people kept them as pets. And the common nasty bugs like roaches and silverfish and the other denizen of the dank, dark, wet spaces would make no one’s cute list.

One summer the cedar trees and bushes in our yard were covered with nasty greenish bag worms. My father paid me to pluck the sacks off the needles and drop them in a paper bag to be consigned to the trash fire when reasonably full. I plucked and plucked but it did not seem as if I was making much headway. And while I was glad for the money, the lack of progress sort of bugged me. If you know what I mean?