The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Why my neighbours must surely think I’m odd

If any of them were watching me this morning, this is what they would have seen:

The Geek is busy getting her yard chores finished before the temperature rises to the uncomfortable 34C promised for the day.  She is now rolling the wheelbarrow back towards the shed.  She stops abruptly in the middle of the yard, peering intently at…what the heck is she looking at?  She seems to be staring off into space.  The wheelbarrow is suddenly dropped, and it topples on one side, spilling its load of soil and sod.  The Geek doesn’t even spare it a glance, as she suddenly breaks into a sprint, with one hand raised high in the air, palm outwards and fingers held tightly together.  She pauses, darts forward, pauses again, then brings her flattened hand sharply downwards.  She scans the grass at her feet, then quickly crouches and seems to pluck something from the ground.  Holding her prize(?) between finger and thumb, she scampers hurriedly inside.  Moments later, she re-emerges with a pleased look upon her face.

The interpretation (to which my poor befuddled neighbours would not have been privy):

The Geek is gardening.  It’s bloody hot already.  Bah.  A loud buzz just overhead catches her attention.  A large dark insect is lumbering by.  The Geek stops to do a quick assessment: long, dark body, dangly bits and large wings…a wasp with trailing legs?  NO!  A LONGHORN BEETLE!  A BIG ONE! STOP THE PRESSES! DROP THE WHEELBARROW!  RUN!  The only bug-halting “weapon” at her disposal is her own hand.  Must… catch…SHINY.  Before it flies away…QUICK, HURRY!!!   Hand raised, careful aim taken…WHACK!  The hapless critter is knocked to the grass.  POUNCE!  It squeaks a stridulating protest, but the lovely male Pine Sawyer has met its match.  The Geek notes a ring of reddish mites encircling its pronotum as she carries it indoors to be added to her collection.  This lovely specimen, as well as the very large and beautiful weevil she found crawling on her home’s exterior, has made her morning.

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7 responses to “Why my neighbours must surely think I’m odd

  1. Ted C. MacRae May 25, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    Awesome!

    I’ve had a number of moments like that. Perhaps the best was many years ago on the shores of Lake Superior below Grand Sable Dunes. A friend and I had taken a break from collecting in the dunes to put on our swim trunks, run down the “log chute”, and crash into the water. Even though it was July, the fridid water temperatures chased us out rather quickly. While on the shore, we noticed Cicindela hirticollis tiger beetles running around. Dressed only in our swim trunks, and having nothing to catch them with, we found that we could zero in on one and start chasing it, trying to keep an eye on it as it flew to see where it landed. It would take off again, but each time it landed we could close the gap a little bit, so that finally when it landed we were within striking range and could do a hand-slapping dive into the sand. We found an drink cup to put them in and caught a dozen or so in this manner. I can only imagine what an observer, high up on the dunes above, must have thought at the sight of two fellows running zigzaggedly on the beach below, occasionally diving onto the sand.

    • TGIQ May 25, 2010 at 2:51 PM

      Ha! I probably would have recognized the activity and come over to join the hunt!

      My wife has my odd mannerisms figured out, at least. Yesterday while stacking wood I spotted an Elm Borer (finally, a REAL Saperda tridentata, not an imitans)!) I nabbed it and ran inside…

      when I came back out, my wife said, “I saw you run in and figured you either hurt yourself or found a bug. You’re not bleeding, so what did you catch?” HA!

  2. MObugs41 May 25, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    Geek, what a funny story. I can picture the whole thing in my mind. I would have done the exact same thing! I’m sure our neighbor thinks we belong to some obscure scary cult. In the corner near the timber of one of our fields we have a white sheet hung between two sheets, there is a mercury vapor light pointing at the sheet. It glows bright white at night and illuminates that hole corner of the field. Looks like we are flagging the mother ship. Then the other day my husband had to shoot a distempered raccoon right near where this sheet is hanging. He looked up to see our neighbor looking over at him from his side of the property line. I just KNOW he thinks we are weirdos, worshiping some odd god or something. It does keep him on his side of the fence though….lol

    Ted your story is hilarious. Love the mental picture!

    • TGIQ May 25, 2010 at 2:54 PM

      LOL, I can just picture your neighbour hanging over the fence, HA! I never thought of bug-catching as a neighbour-repellant…

  3. Steve Willson May 25, 2010 at 7:18 PM

    In my opinion, the strange people are those who would not stop to investigate a large beetle. My neighbors have decided that I’m crazy but harmless, as long as they don’t climb the fence and step on my plants. Fortunately I have no close neighbors and they rarely see what I’m doing.

    I began baffling neighbors early in life. I remember an incident when I was in the third grade. I traded an old baseball glove for a cheap pair of binoculars. First I got in trouble for getting rid of the glove. I got it for my birthday, instead of the ant farm I had been asking for. It was used and I hated baseball. I thought the least my parents could have done was to get me a new glove instead of the old thing they were making a fuss over. They hadn’t even bought it. It was something my dad had left over from when he was a kid.

    Well, I was in trouble, but I got to keep the binoculars. I went out into the front yard and began looking at things. I had used binoculars before, so I was having no trouble. While walking through the yard, I noticed some small ants, my real passion, proceeding in a column up the tree trunk. I turned the binoculars around and put them to their secondary function, magnifying the ants. The neighbor then calls my dad and asks him what his idiot son is doing out front. So, Dad looks out and sees me with the binoculars turned backward, staring at the tree from about half an inch away. I got a lesson then, heard by half the neighborhood, about how you were supposed to behave while other people were watching. I figured those people just didn’t know much about binoculars or ants.

  4. peteryeeles May 26, 2010 at 3:20 AM

    Ha! What a great little collection of stories. Geek, I would totally be doing the same. My neighbours (thankfully) can’t see my antics in the yard. I’m pretty sure they would think I’m a crazyperson.

    Oh and Steve, my parents bought their grandson his first pair of bino’s last week. They are so bad you can barely see through them, but being 2, my little fella doesn’t care. He loves ’em. He also has a tendency to use them backwards… hopefully in years to come he will realise the potential in doing so!

  5. Heath Blackmon May 26, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    When I was in the air force living in a dorm I was called to my commanders office to explain the “drug paraphernalia” found in my room during an inspection. I had to take the commander to my room and show him a Bioquip catalog and a box of pinned beetles before he would believe my explanation of what an aspirator was used for.

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