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Wednesday, June 13

Attack of the Monster Bugs

This week, I've been very grateful for my brave husband!

Apparently, black widow spiders enjoy a little pampering now and then. They like hanging out around our hot tub.  


This is a little scary for me, because our hot tub isn't too far from the doggie door. I worry about Kopek, and also, the doggie door doesn't close all the way. There's a gap around the edges, a gap that a spider could definitely fit through if they decided to pay a visit to my cozy little office. 

That particular spider above took two days to kill. God really protected us, because we'd been wanting to use the hot tub for several days, but never got around to it. Then one night, I flipped on the porch light, and there she was. Brian tried to get it with this metal ended tool first, but it crawled up inside the side of the hot tub. 


The next night, we got her with a shovel. 


For a couple months, we didn't have any problems. In May, the webs were back. I washed them away almost every day when I watered my plants, but they always came right back. I tried to catch them out at night, but they seemed to know I was watching for them, and stayed away. 

So Monday night, Brian was working on the car, and I decided to hang out in the garage with him. Cool night breezes wafted through the open garage door. I brought my laptop and got comfortable on the carpeted area of the floor, and worked on some research, occasionally reading out loud to Brian. The dog curled up contentedly next to me. 

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ Thunk! 

I saw it crash into the garage light and fall to the ground for a split second. "It" was the the largest bug I'd ever seen. In a flash, I knew "It's coming for me!" But before I had time to react, it flew STRAIGHT AT ME. I shrieked and almost threw my computer, but instead I set it down, and in that split second, it landed on me! I smacked it off, screaming at the top of my lungs "BUG! BUG!" 

I ran to the door into the kitchen, but before I could get inside, IT ATTACKED AGAIN. It flew at my legs, at which I shrieked even louder and shook it off, and slammed the door shut behind me. This whole time, instead of defending me, Kopek was every bit as terrified as I was. He squeezed into the kitchen right behind me. 

"Babe?" 

I heard Brian's voice on the other side of the door. 

"BUG!" I sobbed uncontrollably, hyperventilating.  

"OH. Yeah...that's a BIG bug!" 

"IT GOT ON ME..." I lost the ability to form words, and trailed off in a whine. 

Brian came inside and hugged me. "I thought you got stung by a scorpion and we needed to go to the emergency room,"he started laughing, and I started laughing through my tears, realizing how utterly pathetic I must sound. 

The bug had crawled under a pile of furniture, bikes, and tools. I begged Brian to kill it. But how? He asked. He insisted it was too big to step on, it needed to be killed with a baseball bat. But he didn't want to get any of his bats messy. And he wanted to finish working on the car first. 

We didn't know what sort of insect it was. I was sure it was a cockroach, but Brian thought it was too large. I did some research while Brian went back to working on the car, and discovered that Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are the largest roach. Maybe one escaped from a zoo? 

But they don't fly, and this bug had definitely been flying. I called my friend Tara, who studied animal ecology in college. Her husband answered, and told me Tara was busy putting the kids to bed. I said she could call me back, and I must have still sounded panicky, because he asked, "Is everything ok?" 

"Um, there's a giant bug in our garage. I wanted to find out from Tara about how to kill it." I started laughing, imagining how pathetic I sounded.

"Like, how big?"

"Three to four inches long, and an inch wide." 

"Wow! Sounds like a borer beetle. I killed one of those in our garage with a 2x4. But you could just step on it." 

So Paul talked to Brian, who told him it was only 2 1/2 to 3 inches long (I disagree), and told Brian to tell me to cut off its head, quarter it, and bury it in four corners of the backyard, or else it would come back to life.  So helpful. 

Tara determined that the bug was indeed a Palo Verde borer beetle. "Although they look super scary and they CAN pinch you, they are not really that dangerous as long as you don't stick your fingers in their pincers." 

Not that dangerous. But still dangerous! 

I couldn't get close enough to take a good picture, but this is what it looks like. And no, I don't know why this crazy person is holding it:

After Brian finished working on the car, he went after it with a long board. Unfortunately, it scurried away, further underneath the stuff. I started getting ready for bed, resigned to hoping that he had wounded it and it might die of injuries, or run out in front of the car sometime and get run over. 

But Brian backed out the car, and started removing the items one at a time. Twenty minutes later, he marched inside triumphantly. 

"VICTORY IS MINE!!!" 

Sure enough!

The next day, Brian emailed me from work and mentioned all the things he wanted to get done once he got home: "....finish cleaning the car parts and put them back in, workout, kill more monster bugs as needed, maybe we can figure a way to drain the hot tub."
Darkness had fallen by the time we went outside to drain the hot tub. I'd barely stepped out onto the patio when I saw something moving. 

"There it is! The black widow!" Sure enough, it was crawling around in it's web, trying to get away from the light. 

"Yeah, I saw that." Brian had been working on setting up the hose. 

"Well, I'm glad this one's so much smaller than that last one." 

"Smaller? What spider are you talking about?" 

Then I saw it. 

"THERE'S ANOTHER ONE." 

And it was big. 

I showed Brian the one I'd seen first. Without hesitation, he took off his flip flop and smashed it into the patio. I held my breath as he raised the flip flop again, and before I could say anything, he'd smashed the big one!

I should be able to sleep a little easier, knowing that their bodies are smashed on the cement as a warning to any other spiders who might think it was a good idea to hang out at the hot tub. 

But with the borer beetle Monday, two black widow spiders Tuesday, I'm a little apprehensive about what we could find today. 

I've still never seen a scorpion. 


...


Knock on wood.