I live in Georgia, where the spiders and bugs are the size of dinosaurs. Since we don’t have enough freezing temperatures, I think they just keep growing and multiplying. I assume some of the hardier spiders are older than I am at this point. Tolkien based the character of Shelob on the wolf spider living in my garage. True story.
One particularly weird-looking bug is the stink bug, which resembles an army tank with legs. Supposedly they smell when you squish them, so I tend to leave them alone. The other night one of them buzzed noisily around my room banging into things while I was trying to sleep. It was insanely loud, but I shoved earplugs in my ears and eventually fell asleep, hoping it wouldn’t die midair and fall on me in the middle of the night.
I woke up the next morning relieved to find no trace of the bug. I performed my usual 6am routine, shuffling from room to room making sure the kids were up and moving. I grabbed the apple off my nightstand, called for the dogs, and headed downstairs to let them out and make coffee.
I hate the early school day mornings, but every day there’s a fifteen minute window that I live for. After feeding the dogs, making sure the kids’ backpacks are ready with water bottles and snacks, setting out the various prescriptions my people take before school, and pouring the coffee, I sit down with my word puzzle and breakfast for fifteen glorious minutes before the kids tromp downstairs and I race around getting their breakfasts and shooing the kids out the door to the bus stop.
On this particular morning, I sipped my coffee, moved the letters of my game around, and took a bite of apple. Movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention and my gaze shifted from the letters of the game to the apple in my mouth, and going cross-eyed, I saw the stink bug materialize from the center of the apple and start crawling toward my face.
I flung the apple across the table, screaming bloody murder, and smashed the bug with the bottom of my water bottle, stinky smell be darned.
My kids raced downstairs to see what all the yelling was about and as my brain stopped its fight or flight mode (fight: smoosh the bug, flight: fling the apple), I noticed that my traumatized screaming encouraged my kids to get their butts downstairs for school. I made a note to save this technique for future mornings.
After some very thorough research in the scientific journal Wikipedia, maybe you’ve heard of it, I learned that the brown marmorated stink bug loves apples. You and me both, buddy.
“The bug survives the winter as an adult by entering houses and structures when autumn evenings become colder, often in the thousands…They wait for winter to pass, but often the warmth inside the house causes them to become active, and they may fly clumsily around light fixtures.”
That tracked. My stink bug spent the evening flying drunkenly around my ceiling light before landing in my apple for the night. I was more than a little concerned that my bug wasn’t a lone wanderer but could be roosting in my home with a thousand of his apple-loving buddies.
The article went on, “During courtship, the male emits pheromones and vibrational signals to communicate with a female, which replies with her own vibrational signals, as in all stink bugs.”
Courtship? Vibrational signals? That loud buzzing noise it made. With dawning horror, I realized that bug was in my bedroom trying to mate with me. My guy wasn’t a stink bug; he was a love bug. It’s a good thing I don’t snore, because if I’d replied with my own vibrational signals he might have found me more enticing than the apple.
I kept reading. “In warmer climates, multiple generations can occur annually, which can range from two generations in states such as Virginia to six generations in California, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, and Texas.” Six generations. No wonder the bugger was so desperate to mate with me. He had to make a lot of progeny to keep our state supplied. I’d hate for Georgia to run out of bugs.
I don’t feel bad about squishing him. Let that be a lesson: if you try to mate with me, or eat my food, I will end you.
You may be wondering about the fate of the apple I flung. I washed it off, sliced off the part Stinky was hiding in, and ate the rest. Listen, it was a honeycrisp and those things are gold.