Friday, August 22, 2008

House of Insects

We have fleas. Or rather, our four cats do (one of which has a skin disease and has barely any hair, so why the fleas?). For years I kept the cats indoors until we adopted Foxy, a semi-feral who took up residence in our garage. The other cats saw this cat going in and out (we COULDN'T keep her in, she wasn't having it) and felt the overwhelming need to join her. So for 3 years my previously indoor cats have been indoor/outdoor cats. Which means flea prevention is a must. Well, until recently, we didn't have the $200/month that Frontline costs, and, well, I didn't remember that there was a such thing as flea collars. Dur.

So now there are fleas everywhere. We are going to have to bomb the house
it's so bad. The first sign was when the baby woke in the morning with mystery bumps all over his arms and legs. Then Collin started complaining that bugs kept jumping on him. Fleas. I keep thinking about the commercial with the one flea multiplying into millions. And the episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends where Eduardo gets fleas.

The instigator

Last night Tim wanted me to go out to the garage and see the engine guard he had put on Honey. As we walked out into the garage, I heard a chirp that sounded suspiciously like that of our friendly neighborhood bats. (The bats like our home. Pest control people can't figure out how they get in, but about twice a year, we get a visitor. The most unfortunate incidence was when I fell asleep on the couch to awake to a bat perched on my shoulder. If you can avoid them, I would recommend staying as far away from rabies shots as you can. They hurt more than they tell you. And there's lots of them). Being the vaccinated one of the bunch, I bravely ventured into the garage, only to find that the culprit was a big, green chirping insect that I had never seen in my life. There was much debate over the identity of said insect and whether it would, in fact, kill us. I was of the camp that the green guy was probably harmless, yet gigantic and strange nonetheless. I deftly removed the insect from our garage using the "put something over it and a piece of cardboard under it" technique and then got to work on the internet to figure out who our nocturnal visitor was. Well, can you believe that I had never seen a katydid up until that point? I guess we have them in Ohio, but they can't be that common, because I was one of these "pick up the log to see the insects scamper" kids. I loved pill bugs and was always poking them to get them to curl up. I have a thing for praying mantis. I felt like I had to go tick "katydid" off of the "insects I have seen in my life" checklist.


Later that evening, my favorite of the insects made a stop in our house. Cicadas look like prehistoric monsters that most surely will disembowel you, but they are gentle giants. I love finding cicada exoskeletons on trees (I was a biology major, which, now that I think about it, makes the fact that I didn't know what a katydid was even more sad). Anyhow, one was hanging out by our porch light and decided to check out the house when I opened the door. Kendall went running and screaming. The cicada gave good chase but finally took up a post behind my great (x4) grandmother's picture. This was my second insect rescue of the evening.


A few years ago, the 7 year cicada breeding cycle hit Ohio. When you drove into wooded areas, hundreds of cicadas would land on your car. It was loud with a capital "L." But it was so cool. When I was a kid, my family and I took a trip to Pipestem State Park in West Virginia. It was the 16 year cycle breeding season for the West Virginia cicadas (like the one above, ours are just black). When you walked outside, they would land on you. My sister had over ten on her at one point. They terrified me then, but when one landed on me and it didn't kill me and it chirped and chirped, I fell in love. Be kind to your neighborhood cicada. What would summer be without that buzzy chirp?

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