Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bugs I have known

Inspired by Stingray’s f-bomb inducing encounter with a venomous arthropod, I thought I’d introduce a couple of the six legged residents of South Texas.

First up is the Cow Ant or Velvet Ant. It’s really a flightless wasp rather than a true ant but your first reaction on seeing one is, “Holy Shit! Look at that ant!”

Imagine an ant 1 to 1½ inches long wearing a fuzzy red and black striped sweater. Now imagine stepping on said critter and seeing it shrug it off like it had been hit with a raindrop. I’ve watched them climb up the side of a building, reach about 30 feet, apparently decide that wasn’t where they wanted to be, fall to concrete below, bounce about a foot in the air, and then amble on.

They’re not particularly dangerous; though I’m told the sting hurts like hell. They don’t move very fast and they’re not stealthy; they don’t have to be.

Several years ago my office was located by the loading dock which was bordered by a strip of woods. (Woods, in Houston, are defined as any vacant plot of land that hasn’t be bulldozed in the past two years.) One of these little buggers wandered in. I executed the old cup and paper capture technique and discovered something really amazing. They talk!

They make a squeaky, jibbery sound exactly like the insects from a bad sci-fi movie.
No brandy was involved. I swear.

Before I move on to the next bug, let me state, without reservation, that I favor copulation. I’m all for it. If I ever run for president there will be a pro-copulation plank in my platform. That copulation is not even mentioned as a favorite pastime, I consider a national disgrace. Want to join the “Mile High Club”? (Personally, I like to keep all my joints operating to original equipment standards. But that’s just me.) I say, “Go for it!”

Having established my copulation bona fides, allow me to insert a tiny exception. I'd rather mass copulation not occur on my front lawn, or on my windshield, or three inches in front of my nose. Ladies and gentlemen, the Love Bug.

These little creatures spend all of their brief adult lives locked in love’s embrace. Most of this special time they spend airborne. Momma love-bug is larger and stronger so she tows daddy love-bug through the air. In fact, after daddy has performed his duty, he may die leaving momma to haul his carcass around until she finds a suitable place to lay her eggs. They swarm in early spring and late fall. Some years it’s impossible to walk across the yard without committing mass orgycide.

Naturally such lascivious behavior, occurring with such abandon, attracts the attention of small children.
Curious three year old: “Momma, what are those bugs doing?”
Distracted Mother: “Oh, they’re just kissing.
Indignant three year old: “But their butts are stuck together!”

This, of course, has evolved into a twisted family tradition of giving a “butt kiss”


  1. Among the many reasons I'm glad I'm back in the high desert instead of still in the gulf, love bugs are up there. God, did I hate cleaning those off my car.

    We also have the velvet ants- thanks for the background information, I'd been wondering what in the flaming hell they were when I found them in the backyard.

    What, no fire ants? I'll take the scorpions and centipedes in a heartbeat over having to live with those hellspawn again.

  2. Fire ants are boring. They're vicious little fuckers deserving of all the torments of hell. What else is there to say?
    The next time you see a velvet ant, try to scoop him up in an acoustically positive vessel. Cheap-ass plastic coffee cups work well. Good re-verb.


Please be civil.