Thursday, July 27, 2006

Coleoptera encounters

While the small, round black beetles that have a magical tendancy to find their way to sheets to take disturbing nips at the skin have faded from our apartment's windowsills (and stopped chomping up the potted avocado trees), the smaller tan ones with black spots still travel occasionally around the bathroom window ledge, wondering, I guess, how they were able to squeeze through in one direction and not the other.

This ground beetle, for example, is one such creature that didn't find its way back to the outdoors until I swept it there (note hair and dust-bunny fluff).

I found it at the back door, between the big wooden part and the flimsy screen part that surely any enterprising insect could pass through.

It's the same beetle I had encountered one night in the bathroom weeks ago. We bonded, you see, and well, I am not versed in insect and had no idea what this thing was, so I feel responsible for its death.

Women have the unique position to be able to contemplate the floor and all its shadows at 4 a.m. from the toilet. . . .bare feet on tile, eerie glow of streetlight in window, sound of snoring nearby. . .

Usual dialog with self: "There might be something crawling around in the dark." You have to be prepared for anything. It's stupid, I know, but some of us only hunt because we don't like getting bitten or crawled on. Most of this "instinct" is reserved for campgrounds and latrines and such, where bugs are expected and thus allowed (by me at least) to remain unadulterated.

Usually, of course, there is nothing in a city apartment water closet.

So I was fairly suprised, being mostly asleep, to see the one corner, one foot from my feet, that always kind of looks like something black and creepy is sitting in it actually come alive with this swift-footed thing.

I assumed it was the once-a-year roach and got ready to smush it with a hairspray bottle (no shoes! insect traveling fast!), but it ran and ran and seemed to be unaffected by my very inaccurate blows. If I had only known . . . .

When ground beetles enter homes, it is an accidental invasion. They cannot survive and reproduce there.

I made so much ruckus about finding this imposing-looking bug that all of us were up now, me, birds and husband, who comes in in time to see me kneeling on the floor, with the lights all on now, peering under the clawfoot tub trying to locate the mega-beetle.

Location of beetle is essential to peace of mind.

No sign of beetle anywhere.

I go back to bed all full of fight and fear. I don't like to leave a job half-done. I don't like to leave a member of the world's largest specied order (350,000 kinds of beetles, or 40 of the insects humans know about) tramping about.

I was sad to discover it last week when I was putting out some plants. We hardly use the back door, barricaded against human invasion as it is. I guess the ground beetle sustained more damage than I thought.

In any kind of war, it's always more disturbing to see corpses when you're not expecting them, after the thrill of "kill, kill, kill" has worn off.

This dying beetle, which I think is a green June beetle, was struggling for life in the Walgreen's parking lot next to my car this morning.

I did not try to save him.

For more photos (not mine, someone named Poul Beckman) of other beetles I'm glad not to encounter, see Living Jewels.


Nightmare said...

"peering under the clawfoot tub trying to locate the mega-beetle."

I had to read that 3 times, because I thought you said "peeing".

I know I need new glasses.

trAcy said...

that's the power of suggestion. and why english is hard.

"glancing" was not going to work there.

"looking" is too mundane.

"peering" is all i could come up with, even though, yeah, we just got done talking about the toilet. bleh.

"gaping" has similar problems

firenflower said...

LOL I misread "peeing" the first time as well.

But I was commenting on a similar experience last night.

I'm sure tracy you've read my blog about the giant killer spider that attacked me out of my shower drain a few months ago. Well, his twin ran across my foot last night while I was in Downward Dog stance doing yoga in the living room... completely helpless in other words. Two inch long spider, ON ME. then he tried to run under the couch, where I had been alternating yoga with trash tv enjoyment. so that wouldn't do at all. I ended up smashing him with the pair of what you once called "impractical" shoes- those pink platforms. They're very heavy and broke my nail in the process. I was hyperventilating by the end of it. I'm just glad my ugly couch cover prevented him from making it under the couch, he was just snuggling up next to the cover which drapes to the floor.

It's been 106 degrees here too on and off for a few weeks. yay for life without A/C. poor tracy on the third floor.