Friday, April 11, 2008

Quivering Fantods

Besides sparrow-sized, hairy moths with freaky radar antennae on their heads, the other bug phobia I have is these motorscooters.

We called them "locusts" where I grew up.

Though we had a few every year, about every 7 years they would emerge en masse, and their discarded shells would festoon the trees like spots on a Dalmatian - creepy alien-body spots.

The nights would pulse with their rasping choruses. It was oddly beautiful.

It would be so loud you couldn't hold a conversation close to a tree where they perched. If you screamed really loud - such as "shut the hell up!" - they would all fall silent at once and stay quiet for about 17 seconds. Then one would chirp, then a couple more, then the whole throng would join in again.

The ones we had would start out green and yellow, but then as their life cycle came to a close, they'd turn Halloween black and orange. Their thorax is about the size of a man's thumb, and their wingspan is about a pointer-finger and a half. They're big for a bug, in other words.

My phobia (as with the spawn of satan moths) stems from my picking one up once, thinking it was dead.

We'd had a hailstorm accompanied by several twisters that never touched down, but they stirred things up. Hundreds of their little black and orange corpses littered the mud in patches of the yard and the alley behind the house.

One was pasted on its back by the wings in the mud right off of my back stairs. I poked the mud around it with a stick at first and then moved its upended legs around a bit. Nothing happened so I thought it was dead. I reached down and grabbed one of its wings to pull it out of the mud, which caused it to do that unholy screeching chirp (which is even more amazingly loud a mere foot or so away) and twitch every leg and limb it had. Unfortunately, when I jumped I tugged it out of the mud, so there I was holding the thing as it gyrated and did Rockettes kicks. I was so freaked it took a few tortuous seconds to will my fingers to drop it.

And thus a new phobia was born.

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