5 tagged with #bugs

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construction symphony

and then all i can here is the rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a of some heavy machine oscillating, cut through with the occasional piercing beep of a machine that wants to let you know that it's backing up and the operator might not see you, and the clank of metal beams getting dropped into place by the crane whose arm swings perilously close but doesn't quite touch this window next to me. i cannot pick out the machine that makes the ratatat, or the machine that keeps backing up; it is a mess of concrete rubble and yellow-vested hard hat tops swarming over this site.

in north sweden, instead of tunneling underground, the ants drag tiny grains of dirt and sand one at a time and stack them up into mounds, then cover them with a thick layer of pine needles, threaded together to lock into a thatched blanket to insulate them against the rough winters. i imagine the inner layers of pine needles slowly decompose, releasing heat as they meld into the dirt layer for a tighter seal. chest-high stacks of pine needles writhed under the trees; it was hard to tell what was ant and what was vegetation on its surface.

i finally shut my window and put on headphones to drown out the jackhammer noises happening next door.

08 January 2019 15:12


4 november 2018

when i walk to the bathroom with the backlight of my ereader leading the way, i see a spider rotating chaotically in the space in front of my knees. somehow, it clung to me. i plucked a thread i could not see, trusting that i had captured it only because its swinging became more erratic, and stuck the strand to the bathroom sink.

do insects understand when they are inside, or is the indoor/outdoor divide only a human construction? ants march along my windowsill in seeming confusion, even after i wipe down their paths with ammonia day after day.

once, a spider fell into the large format printer at work and got run over by the print hear, rows and rows of ink sealing it into the paper. nothing in the history of spiderhood prior to that moment could have prepared it for such an experience.

what is an equivalent disaster for a human being?

09 November 2018 00:40

ants in my pants

it's literal. inexplicably, my desk crawls with confused ants. there is no food in this room, but perhaps they fell onto the roof and crawled in through the window. they tickle while they explore my arms and legs, sometimes pausing to reach up towards me as if i could provide them answers.

at a previous residence, the long windowsill near my desk was the site of an annual territory war, two different species of ants fighting for control over the ivy plant that drilled into the brickwork. it never bothered me, because the winners always cleaned up the bodies of the lowers, dragging empty husks into their own nests to feed their young. for three days, i'd just vacate the room, because the sounds of their jaws snapping at each other all day proved too distracting for me to work near.

sometimes, i can't tell if my skin is tingling because cracks are starting to open up in this dry spell, or because an ant is asking me for advice. i only have to be careful that i don't mash them under my laptop keys; they seek the warmth, i suppose, or the sweet smell of thermal paste, or the dead skin cells packed into the cracks.

my hair itches.

08 July 2018 22:44


fireflies press against the screens, blinking blearily like how i feel when i had to set an alarm several hours before i'd have been ready to wake up. they drift around, seemingly getting sucked back against the plastic grid, flashing like they're trying to send a signal to my glowing phone light inside.

in the smokies, the park closed for weeks around firefly season, citing light pollution from cars as confusing their native firefly population. you could buy a ticket on one of a small number of shuttles that would bring visitors, once or twice a night, to a designated spot, where you would then get out and walk over a hillside and settle in to watch the show. last year, poorly-scheduled demolition projects ran kleeg lights all night long, and people reported poor firefly turnout.

when we lived in iowa, my mother caught fireflies, waited for them to flash, then pinched off the sac of luciferen so she could paint images on my arms; i cried, realizing she was killing things to decorate my body.

in a recent phone call to my mother, i admitted to feeling on edge, riding the crest of stress and near-burnout, and that my response was to find everything calamitous, all words spoken to me as personal attacks. she laughed a little, telling me that she's known since i was a child that i tend towards oversensitivity, that i am quick to find things earth-shattering and disturbing.

23 June 2018 21:54


When we first moved to this house, moths visited the bathrooms every night through the summer and early fall. We kept the screenless window open for ventilation, and they flew towards the globe light bulbs above the mirror, spinning in circles around and around and landing on the tile to slurp spilled bathwater. I crawled after them with a camera and a macro lens, setting up lights and speaking gently to them. A different, new species appeared almost every night.

I've read that moths navigate by lunar pull, a sense for the position of lights and bodies beyond the atmosphere that goes beyond what our eyes can tell us. They get confused when lights are too close, and their long, careful inscription of the night turn into frantic tight circles when they breach humanity's fear of the dark. The lights here disrupt them. Things we need to survive disrupt things we can't understand. We have a right to be here, too.

I found Clarence after days of seeing bug dirt scattered under the geranium pot, and I wasn't ready to glimpse a white bristly worm in the corner of my eye while watering the tomatoes. I've never understood my aversion to looking at caterpillars enough to learn how to overcome it, so I startled and so did Clarence.

Maybe it's giving him a name and making him a friend; maybe it's missing the moth visiting the bathroom. After that first summer here, we rarely saw moths again. After a bit of a cooldown, I went to inspect Clarence again, and he reared up and shook at me until I retreated again. I wonder if that tactic works as well for the robins circling the porch as it does for me.

01 July 2014 23:14

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