Gimbling in the Wabe – My Thoughts on June Bugs

by Sharon Browning

gimbling header

I hate June bugs.June bug plain

Yes, I realize “hate” is a powerful, laden word.  I realize that it should not be used indiscriminately or flippantly, for it is the main word we have for ultimate abhorrence.  Yes, I realize that I should consider using the word “loathe” or “despise” or  “detest” instead – something not quite as vehement as “hate”, which should be reserved for the most reprehensible of atrocities.  And yet, I cannot.

I really hate June bugs.

I don’t care that they are related to the revered, historied scarab beetle.  It does not sway me that they are innocuous, non-biting, and non-disease carrying.

They are stupid.  They are hard.  They are big, for a Northern bug, and they are shiny and stupid, and hard.  Like a slug bullet.  Like a rigid bead of mindless irritation.  They fly at things they have no business flying at.  Like me.

For a few weeks every spring, I am held prisoner inside my house by these insipient critters.  Once the sun goes down, they lurk in the corners of my porch, just waiting for me to sit on the wrought iron glider purposefully placed there to allow for enjoyment of lovely spring evenings.  Then, just when I’ve settled in and relaxed, they emerge.

It always starts with a rustle in the corner.  A small sound that could possibly be taken as the swing swaying slightly, or the swish of the dog’s tail, even the a whisper of clothing moving ever so slightly.  But then the rustle turns into an almost imperceptible buzz, an ominous warning of what is to come.  A still unbelieving mind might wait for confirmation as the buzz turns into the sound of insectile wings bumping against the wall, slowly at first, but increasing in speed and intensity, bouncing against the wood, ricocheting off the metal mailbox next to the door, or even, on far more occasions than one would deem possible for anything with even the tiniest sliver of even a reactive brain, thrashing in the depths of the plastic bag-lined wastebasket set in the corner of the porch to hold random urban trash that is dropped or blown onto our property.

And if one is not already in full retreat, or ensconced safely behind screen doors at the least, then the horrid creatures will emerge fully, having finally bumbled their way out of whatever crack or crevice (or wastebasket) they have been lurking in, to fly straight into my hair.

How they know to go straight for my hair, I have no idea, but there must be some kind of deeply inborn instinct that instructs them to unerringly seek out my hair.

And those stupid little suckers are fast.  Before I can even register that they are indeed flying in my direction, I rarely have more time than to turn away before they are upon me.  The force of their impact with my head is enough to burrow in to such a degree that their barbed (some say “hairy”, I say barbed) legs get tangled up in my hair, and any amount of head shaking or mere swats will only encourage them to become even more entwined, all the time buzzing and bumping their shiny, hard insect carapaces so close to my ear that panic ultimately ensues.

“Get it off me, get it off me, get it off me!!!”

Never mind that I am a mature adult with a college degree and grown children.  Never mind that I am ultimately aware that I am in no inherent danger, or that I am the infinitesimal advanced creature, more in peril of hurting myself than being hurt by this hideous yet harmless bug.  None of that matters.  I just need it out of my freekin’ hair.  NOW.

(I am shuddering just thinking about it. Literally.)

I can take routinely cleaning up cat vomit.  I have handled poopy diapers and other bodily fluids that are part and parcel of being a parent.  I can deal with road kill, ticks, dead cats, mysterious fetid masses that have been pushed to the back of the refrigerator for months, cockroaches and silverfish and millipedes, flesh wounds, watching my daughter poke herself with sharp objects (she’s a Type 1 diabetic)… but I cannot, cannot stand June bugs flying into my hair.

Yes, it’s an irrational fear.  So freekin’ what.  I still hate June bugs from the depth of my being, with an burning, everlasting, all consuming hatred.

So for a few weeks every late spring, I am a prisoner in my own house at nights.  Even sitting in my chair by the picture window I can hear them smacking into the glass behind me.  Over and over again.  Stupid bugs.  But at least they can’t get into my hair.

Good thing it’s only for a couple of weeks.  While I hate June bugs, I can’t deny that their existence mandates their right to be here.  I won’t kill them, not even ones that manage to invade my personal space.  If I see one sluggishly crawling across the porch during the day, I will gingerly pick my way around it.  If one should – heaven forbid! – ever get inside the house, I’d scoop it up in a paper towel and toss it back outside.  They don’t choose to be June bugs, after all.

If they had even a modicum of intelligence, or a hidden agenda or evilness of purpose, it might be different.  If they affected my life throughout all the warm months of the year, it might be different.  But they don’t.  They are what they are.  So for a few weeks in the spring, I will acquiesce their existence coinciding with mine, and wait them out.  If I come across ones who have died between sundown and sunrise, I’ll sweep their carcasses off my porch and into the flower beds out front, where their lifeless carapaces can enrich the soil with their organic decay.  I’ll get the last laugh, in the end.

Doesn’t mean I’m not resentful of those lost spring evenings on the porch.  And it doesn’t mean that I’ll ever stop hating them, with a deep, abiding, irrational but present hatred.

But such is life.  Theirs and mine.  Such is our glorious, hated, wonderful shared lives, regardless of how I feel about it.

Still – I unapologetically, unequivocally hate the grossness that are June bugs.  And undoubtedly always will.

~ Sharon Browning

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