Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Embracing Bugs

The newswoman gave her report. "You probably won't know about stink bugs....."

"Oh, yeah," I thought. Any farm kid knows about stink bugs.

Of course, these bugs are not native. Evidently our stink bugs when I was growing up were either native or sneaked over on a boat way back in history, but any of us growing up on the farm knew that a stink bug was aptly named.

Farm kids aren't afraid of bugs. In fact, my dad taught me many lessons watching bugs. I watched dung beetles slowly roll the balls of manure down the back lane. Slow, but determined progress. Amazing how long a kid can watch a bug. I looked for tobacco worms hidden beneath the big green leaves and loved stomping on them. Spiders lived happy lives without anyone disturbing their webs in the barn. Bugs were just part of our lives in the country.

Dad taught me that pluses that are attached to the little critters. The praying mantis and lady bugs were not only fascinating but ate nasty bugs. Dad and I listened to the katydid and the crickets. He revealed hidden stick bugs that blended in the shrubs looking like on more stick. The praying mantis changed colors according to its background hiding it from its prey. Flies and horseflies were just part of the landscape. So many bugs.

From an early age, I learned about the cicada that left their shells clinging to the old mulberry tree in the yard. Dad would attach the sharp feet of the golden shell to my shirt like a pennant for a farm girl. I would gather as many of these treasure as I could find and delighted in showing my children and my granddaughter the mysterious little shells clinging to the tree bark.

I laugh a little when a city kids runs screaming from a bug. I am immediately reminded that my growing up was fascinating and full of surprises. Dad often brought cocoons into the house. He would put the praying mantis cocoon in a jar so we could watch it hatch. Dad would sometimes surprise us with a cecropia cocoon. Every day we would check the cocoon kept in the backroom waiting for it to open. One day the cocoon would open, and we would find the moth as big as Dad's hand hanging on the wall. Dad captured the moth and held it for us to see taking outside for its release.

Yes, there is a lot to be said for being a farm girl, the one who lived back the lane on Neff Road. Sometimes my lessons were leaned and my life made a bit richer by looking a bit closer at the world beneath the leaves. A good life lesson.

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