My life seems to be dominated by bugs. (Thankfully with no current infestations, though I could be jinxing myself.) It all started with a book: Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart. I was pulled to it like flies to dung. I’d already read her previous book, Wicked Plants, and it was astounding.
I’m only halfway through, but the descriptions of bed bugs kept me up at night (glancing around the room for possibly critters). One of the most intriguing insects so far is the Asian Giant Hornet. Not only is this creature gigantic (50 mm), it raids bee hives the way Vikings pillaged English towns.
One wasp will reconnoiter the hive, tearing off the heads of bees and bringing them back to its young. Then it smears pheromones and attracts a massive wasp raid. All the bees are destroyed, the larva and honey stolen away.
What really takes this to the next level is the defense that the bees mount. Too small to fight the wasp directly, they team up. The bees know that if they can dispose of the first wasp, the others won’t come. They lure the scout wasp inside the hive. The bees then proceed to flap their wings furiously, raising the temperature to a blistering 116 degrees. This cooks the wasp. The danger is that if the temperature kicks up a few more notches, it kills the bees.
This isn’t the only literary insect encounter. I’m also currently reading Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell. The second story, Reeling for the Empire, is both repulsive and alluring at the same time. It centers around Japanese women stuck in a modernizing nation (mid-nineteenth century). To compete with Western silk spinning machines, the Japanese alter their women to transform them into silk worm. They grow fuzzy body hair and rip off their fingernails to pull out the silk that builds in their bellies.
Cap all this off with the fact that my local museum, The San Diego Natural History Museum, has a bug exhibit (Dr. Entomo’s Palace of Exotic Wonders) featuring glowing scorpions, millipedes, bird eating tarantulas, and vinegaroons.
It’s enough to make you twitch and glance over your shoulder for bugs. At least I’m not degrading to the status of Upston Pratt from Creep Show. Not familiar? In the story, titled “They’re Creeping You Out”, a cranky tycoon has “bug-proofed” his penthouse (Howard Hughes has nothing on this guy). Suffice it to say, roaches find their way in, both to the apartment and his body.
Creepshow – They’re Creeping Up on You! from Veetrix on Vimeo.
Enjoy the insect world. They outnumber us 200 million to 1.
I saw a bug collection in the Edmonton museum, last summer. While the carapaces of some of the beetles were exquisitely beautiful, I could barely get past the mandibles and bristly legs. I do not like to find bugs in my house. Fortunately, my cat likes to eat spiders and such so I feel a little safer – but bird-eating spiders? If they are big enough to eat a bird, my cat might have a hard time with them. Glad they don’t survive here in the frozen north! As for ‘Creepshow’, I think I’ll pass. I’m not a fan of horror and after watching a Twilight Zone episode about spiders who took over a town and having nightmares forever, I certainly don’t want to see a show where cockroaches invade a man’s home – and body! Blech! The very thought just makes me shiver!
That reminds me of the movie where spiders take over a town, starring William Shatner. (Kingdom of Spiders)
That’s the one I was thinking of, but couldn’t remember the name of it. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂