Thanks to my Mom, I loved bugs when I was a kid. I would pick them up, carry them around, and build little homes for them to live in. If a bug was injured, I’d construct a leaf hospital for them to recuperate comfortably within. Everyone knows a bug just needs a little leaf roof and leaf walls to regrow a new leg or antennae. I loved caterpillars, cicadas, grasshoppers, June bugs, worms (is that considered an “insect”?), doodle bugs (which you probably call pill bugs and while I accept that I’m technically wrong, they’re still doodle bugs to me), ants, and spiders. In fact, the more legs and eyes the better. My mother taught me to respect their creations and not to be careless – thus, effectively ending my days of kicking over ant hills for fun or squishing the occasional hive. I’d reflect on their hard work and move on.
Unfortunately, along the path to adulthood my relationship with bugs changed. First, I was swarmed by yellow jackets. Now, yellow jackets, wasps and mud dobbers must die on sight to make up for their insult. Fire ants murdered my favorite hamster, Brownie. All ants were put on notice. The final straw – too much time with a relative who was not the tidiest of souls. Her silverware drawers, counters, and cabinets were in constant motion. Things scampered over piles of debris left throughout the house. It sent me over the edge. I hate bugs.
Now I’ve become THAT woman who leaps on furniture and shrieks like a crazy person at certain bugs. I’m not proud. (To save some face, I am still your go-to girl for picking up dead mammals. The difference being that dead mammals don’t tend to size you up and then fly at your face.) I also now have a hair-trigger gag reflex for certain bugs – roaches, maggots, too many of anything pulsating in one place… you get the idea. In fact, the only Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe that will send me out of the room gagging are the ones involving exterminators. However, other bugs still really don’t “bug” me that much.
That’s the long-winded background you need for this story.
A couple of weeks ago, in the early morning, I wandered into the spare bathroom. After being there for a bit, I noticed something out-of-place on the shower curtain – a gigantic, face-hugging grasshopper. I excused myself, backed out of the room and went back to bed. Before Jay headed off to work, I tried to explain there was the granddaddy of all grasshoppers in the bathroom. What that should have translated to, but didn’t was “this is not a dead mammal, you must get rid of this or I will freak right on out”. What it actually translated to was, “there’s something tiny and altogether insignificant terrorizing me and I just thought I’d FYI you on this, I’ll get it later.”
After being awake some hours, I gave myself the pep talk. It’s a GRASSHOPPER for crying out loud. You loved grasshoppers as a kid. Get a cup and something to cover it with. Don’t be a baby. Go on now, open that door and look at it. It’s probably half the size you remember, you big sissy. I cautiously opened the door and flipped on the light to size it up. I figured I’d look and then work out the proper sized cup that would be needed to get the job done. I didn’t see him. Not at first. Then he flew straight for my head. That’s when I screamed like an idiot and slammed the door. Sam thought this was pretty funny and danced around. For the record, Beagles have a terrible sense of humor.
Jay gets home and this time, more awake, I explain the situation. Jay goes in to take care of it. I hear movement, the bath mat being tossed about and then Jay re-emerges declaring something along the lines about how we’ll wait until it dies. I start wondering about a grasshopper’s lifespan and what my life will mean without the spare bathroom. I send Jay back in to retrieve a hairdryer and a couple of other minor items. As I recall he wasn’t overly eager to step back in there (his story may be different, but he doesn’t have a blog). We were now in this for the long haul.
I start telling people my tales of grasshopper terror to friends and co-workers. It’s greeted with laughter as they doubtlessly picture some harmless 1-1 ½” critter. Granted, with each telling my arms move further apart and were now well past my shoulders. It was THIS big. HONEST! I finally call April and start trying to bribe her with cash to come and get it out of my house. April declines the money and says, “I’ll do it for the challenge! I’ve got a 10-year-old visiting with a bug net, she’ll love it.”
The pair of them arrive and I direct them to the bathroom. Nothing. He has escaped! I send them back in to be sure. He’s probably just hiding, waiting for them to leave and then preparing a punishment for me for disturbing him. No luck. Escaping can only mean he’s lying in wait for me somewhere else. “Check my pillow. The face hugger is probably waiting for me on my pillow!!!!” I squeal this in a dignified manner while dancing around the house. They go to my bedroom. No luck. “Check the closet. It’s probably in my clothes!!!!” They end up scouring the whole house, turning things over, peering behind things and finally, April spots him waving at her in a spot she’d previously checked. They square off. However, he didn’t count on the bug net. She easily catches him and unceremoniously plunks him inside an empty Cool Whip container. He hops about angrily hurling his massive body against the plastic sides swearing at her the entire time. In front of a 10-year-old, no less! Thankfully, none of us are familiar with his alien language.
The critter is literally about 7” long. (Thank you, Monsanto.) The most massive grasshopper I’ve ever seen. One of those that you’d say “that’s an impressive specimen” and I would inquire, “is that code for ‘horrifying’?”
April and her 10-year-old sidekick proudly carry him off. Unfortunately, when they went to take a picture of him, he leapt out of his plastic prison and bounded over a building, rudely gesturing his extreme displeasure as he escaped one final time. I understand that there’s now a story, told by a 10-year-old bug-catching sidekick, about the evil king of grasshoppers.
He’s still out there, plotting his revenge.