The long awaited summer arrives. We peel off the layers of winter clothing, and exchange it for tank tops and flip-flops. The outside world comes to life. The trees bud and open, dandelions bloom, bees drone, caterpillars crawl, and mosquitos flourish. The world outside is a magical place of color and light. And then… the long-horned wood-boring beetle shows up. I think it must be a mascot to the devil himself, a fang-like mandible insect, which will whirl towards you with the most practiced skill. It’ll swerve and vibrate through the air in an unreadable motion, unnerving the very confidence you have in your own two feet. You might try to escape, but it’s never really apparent which way they are flying. All you know for certain is… if it lands on you… it will stick to you, longer than a cowboy can stick to a bull. Dear God, it will stick like the Brazilian hot wax you were going to get to surprise your husband, and if it bites it’ll be far worse. Holy fleeing buttocks, there are few things in this world which can get a chill Canadian fired up to sprint across the yard, than the sound of an air born beetle with his antennae pointed your way. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the religious folk bring out all their prayers, as they streak across the yard hoping for the safety a little distance can bring.
It’s early summer. The sun sits high in the sky, it’s light spreads far and wide, overseeing far more than the government. That fact alone makes me smile. The heat builds along the outside of the house. The breeze is absent. The leaves hang from the trees, silent. It allows the buzz of insects to dominate. The yellow swallowtail butterflies flutter amongst the lilac trees, and the bee’s buzz along the flowerbeds, hovering from bloom to bloom, slurping up the nectar and pollen. The dragonflies swoop to and fro, picking mosquitos out of the air left and right.
I see Rick, my husband, across the yard and walk towards him. Suddenly, I hear the whirring sound of the most feared insect of the summer season, the long-horned wood-boring spruce beetle.
The reverberating sound ends. I feel it make a perfect ten point landing down my shirt. I can feel its picky sticky legs grasping my soft flesh. I look down to see its long black curved horns in my cleavage. I freeze, recalling the stories of people being bitten, the large chunks of flesh that can be removed by those strong mandibles meant for chomping wood.
I ran. You might laugh, thinking well what’s the point of that? He’s already inside your shirt? It’s called panic people. Panic. If I lived in the city I probably would have been hit by a bus. You know that term scared stupid? I know it intimately. I then proceed to up my game by screaming, and end it with a flurry of clothing coming off my upper body.
Rick watches me with a dropped jaw as I run across the yard half naked.
I use my shirt to try scraping the clinging beetle from between my boobs. I finally knock him off. Before he munches off a breast.
I proceed to jump up and down, “ Gross, ooh, oh my God! You fricken ugly bastard!” Plus far more grunting and groaning noises.
In a few seconds I settle down and sigh with relief.
I suddenly become aware of a vehicle driving by on our quiet gravel road. It’s our neighbour, a sweet old fellow who usually dawdles by at 30 km/hr in his truck. He is going much slower today.
I struggle to put on my twisted up shirt.
His eyes are bigger than the Tarsier monkey, as he zones in on my topless form. He unwittingly steering towards our house, and then corrects himself before he gets too far down the ditch.
I pull my shirt back on, and feel the blood rise in my face.
“Rick trots up to me, “What was that about?”
“A fricken spruce beetle went down my shirt.” I shiver, and wrap my arms around myself. I look around for a sign of anymore of the devil’s pets. The echoing fear sits in my eyes.
Rick laughs lightheartedly, “Well, at least Mike got a show.”
I force a tight grin, “Yeah, and not a black eye.” I reply with hostility.
See— the Devils pets— creating hostility within family dynamics.
Looking at this beetle from a less dramatic point of view, it actually has an agenda to perform good deeds for the Earth. In Fort McMurray this beetle is nicknamed the Tar Sands Beetle because they swarm to the scent of terpinols in exposed bitumen, the smell is the same as in damaged trees. This year there is a plethora of the long horned wood-boring beetle in Northern Alberta due to all the burnt forest it has begun to reclaim. This beetle lays their eggs in dead and dying wood, when the eggs hatch, the larvae will help break down the wood. It turns fire burnt areas into soil much faster than rotting can accomplish. Good job beetles.
My condolences Fort Mac, on the influx of Tar Sands beetles, on the bright side, running from them is good cardio, and I hear the bee-keepers garb can be quite slimming.