Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bug Lady Reconsiders

When I was a kid, the taunting multitudes in my neighborhood used to call me "bug lady" because I collected caterpillars and other insects and read about them and other natural history voraciously. However, this interest always had its distinct limits: anything that buzzed or stung.
This came home to me again a couple of days ago out in the parking lot at the college, where I was strafed by a gigantic, loud, bright green scarab beetle, who seemed to want to get into my extremely hot car. I, however, did not want to get into the car with this creature, which was buzzing like a very small engine plane, frantically bumping against the windshield and windows of the car and going inside the open door. Meanwhile, I merely stood there, watching its angry bumbling about, unless it got too close for comfort.
Yes, I know--scarab beetles do not sting, bite, or otherwise harm humans. But it was big and loud and reminded me of a hornet, so I had a strong aversion to it. I kept trying to keep in mind the scarab's ancient symbology, its role in Egypt as a fertility totem and a sign of eternal life, its gorgeous laquered green wings, etc. But I couldn't help it... when it got close, it was just a gigantic insect with suspect motives.
It made me think also about a story my mom used to tell about her days in the airforce in South Africa. Despite being popular as a young woman, my mother's size (like mine) made her the victim of bullying. In the airforce, some cruel women in her bunk decided to ridicule her one night when she was out on a date by sewing divebombing beetles, like the one in the parking lot, into her bed clothes. She got into the bed in the dark, and suddenly her sheets began buzzing angrily and actually lifted slightly off the bed as the beetles tried to escape. My mother, very skittish and less accepting of critters than I anyway, freaked out and started to scream. The bunk erupted in laughter.
Seeing Lou's big red dragonfly on her blog made me recall this today.


Lou said...

LOL I don't know that those are dung beetles, but I've seen several of them lately--big and beautifully green.

Robbi said...

They are lovely; they remind me of Japanese beetles on steroids though.