Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ugly bugs

Oregonians don't know how good they've got it. The weather is better, the food is better, and the BUGS ARE SMALLER. Not just smaller in size, but smaller in quantity.

Let me explain the wood spider. If you say wood spider to anyone in Ohio, they know exactly what you mean, although technically I think it's the WOLF SPIDER. It has to be in ALL CAPS like that.

WOLF SPIDERS are the biggest, hairiest, ugliest, most satanic bugs I've ever seen, second only to the wood-boring bumblebee (technically "carpenter bee"). These photos are from Wikipedia, of course:

Don't they just give you the WILLIES?

Now, I don't know what size of a computer screen you have, or your resolution, but on mine, I'd like to point out that the pictures above are ACTUAL SIZE (i.e., the spider is about 2 inches across including the legs). Wait, that's not right. I'm a little off on the spider. This is more accurate:

Okay, okay, okay. A slight exaggeration.

But on a non-exaggeration note, these are the most monstrous, evil bugs you have ever seen, and it has absolutely no effect on your psyche that both are non-aggressive and "generally harmless to humans." When you hear one of those bumblebees buzzing around in your living room, there is no other possible response except to run screaming from the house.

For the spider I don't have to run out of the house, but I do have to exit the room completely.

I do not ever once remember seeing bugs of this magnitude in Oregon, flying or crawling. The biggest spiders were Daddy Long Legs, and Oregonian bumblebees are "cute" with their slow, fat, hairy bodies that make you think of little girls in Halloween costumes.

Please no debate about genus, family or class here -- they look the same, close enough to me! -- but their cousin the wood boring bumblebee is not so adorable. Nor does it conjure images of plastic pumpkin buckets filled with candy. No, the wood boring bumblebee actually does bore into wood. Specifically, our 3-sided dump of a shed on the back side of our carriage house (that is going to be torn down this summer). Supposedly the wood boring bumblebee is not social, but there are an awful lot of them hanging around, drinking beers and gossiping, out behind our carriage house. They're like a gang; as soon as they see "fresh meat" they all surround you and start poking fun at your clothes or your hairstyle or your shoes or your glasses or whatever else a gang would poke fun at.

And you know you're not supposed to swat at any type of bee or wasp, but those hairy, mammoth bodies are built for buzzing, designed to drone. It's this low-pitched humming sound that at first seems really far away, until you realize your ears are playing tricks on you. It's not the far-off sound of farm machinery, it's a close at hand vibration coming out of a bug the size of Texas. "Don't swat." Yeah. Right.

The WOLF SPIDER is more of a solitary beast, but don't get me wrong: they have seen their share of movies and are now experts on Hollywood cinema. They know just the appropriate horror-movie moment when they should POP OUT at you. I know it's my imagination, but I swear the sound of their legs skittering across the floor sounds just like the "ree ree ree" you hear when the villain is poised on the other side of the corner with a knife or an ax or a rope. Then you see the victim on screen with their wide-eyes as they hesitate, wondering if they should run up the stairs or out the front door.

Of course, they always run up the stairs.

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