Thursday, July 30, 2009

Entomology for beginners

I was born in the heart of downtown Houston. My skin reaps the wrinkleless benefit of 100% humidity. My hemoglobin transports smog. I used to play Love Ya Blue on my clarinet.

But as much a Houstonian as I am, I just have never gotten used to all the stinking bugs we have in this town. Especially the cockroaches, the big huge black cockroaches, that tend to come inside when we lack rain.


I think it is a sign of Christ within me. It is an indication that I long for Eden. Because I tell you what - there were no cockroaches in the Garden. Cockroaches are a sign of the Fall, y'all. They are the spawn of Satan and destroying them advances the Kingdom.

Shepherd gets a quarter for every cockroach he picks up off the floor (not with your hands!! use a Kleenex!!) and flushes out of our lives. The way this summer has gone, he should be able to buy a car by his sixth birthday.

Due to the glory of extermination, most of the cockroaches he finds are dead or dying. But there are plenty of living creatures to keep him busy. While his lizard catching abilities have long been perfected, this summer, the live bug acquisition skills have reached advanced status.

I am so very proud. And so very grossed out.

This afternoon he proudly brought in his latest catch, a huge insect with lacy wings. "Oh," I said, "that's a locust. A cicada. A locust. A cicada." Now why do I call them locusts when I know they are cicadas? A quick visit to Wikipedia confirmed it: locust is the "colloquial" term for cicada, even though they are two totally different insects. Ahhhhh. Wikipedia, you make me a better mom.

After a quick wiki lesson on the life and times of the cicada/locust, I noticed that our newest little pet was not looking so good. S/he was laying on her back and while I am no locust/cicada expert, she appeared to be in distress. I warned Shep that his new pet might soon follow the Naptime tradition of an early demise.

Shepherd sadly agreed. Then suddenly he yelled, "Look! Mom! It had babies!! There are two babies in there!!"

What? Oh, no, surely not. Not on my shift. I peered into the plastic box, expecting to dismiss his findings as clumps of dirt. And then I saw them. Two little white creatures - two squirming little white creatures - which were not in there thirty seconds ago.

Oh yes, that cicada/locust indeed had been feeling like death. She had been in the throes of labor. Natural labor. A single mom, delivering twins, all alone. Except for a humongous pair of curious green eyes staring at her.

Immediately a little female simpatico kicked in. Had I known I was watching her bring forth her precious blessings, I might have maybe helped her count to ten while she pushed, or something. I can guaran-dang-tee you I would not have held her little knees for her though. My empathy, it knows bounds.

Any simpatico dissipated when I gazed upon the little miracles. Oh, gag! Two disgusting little white larvae looking nasty little creatures! BLECH!! Perhaps they had a face only a mother could love? Nope, Momma was ignoring them too as she chewed on a leaf. Well, birthin babies does work up a girl's appetite, to that I can testify.

The happy family was transferred to a bigger jar and fresh green leaves were gathered. I tried to ignore my goosebumps.

Oh my life cycle, I am winning some major mommy points for this one.

Please join me in welcoming two precious little cicada larvae who have been christened Jack and Eva. You will not find them wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Here, Shep and Sissy narrate the situation for you. The nose picking, that's just a bonus.

Update: I have just returned from Bunko to find that little Jack and Eva are now orphans. Which doesn't seem to bother them a bit, even after their mother gave her life for them. Little ingrates.

Update 2: a little more research revealed that locusts/cicadas burrow under ground for 2-7 YEARS before they come out as nymphs, which are the ones that leave their crusty shells stuck on the side of trees. So I convinced Shep that Jack and Eva needed to be set free if they were to have a chance at life. He let them go in the backyard, sobbing.

Kid needs a dog.


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