Asian beetles plague season
Monday, October 07, 2013 4:11 AM
The bug buzzed around the dining room table, flying dangerously close to the food. After a few missed assassination attempts by my seated family members, the insect came to rest on the chandelier directly overhead, warming itself against the lit lamps. We all could clearly identify this tormentor; it was an Asian beetle.
Having grown up with Asian beetles of all colors and smells, I must say there is no other insect dealt with on a regular basis that is as putrid as the Asian beetle. There are too many stories to tell how terrifically nasty that bug is when encountered.
Here, I must provide a disclaimer. The common Asian beetle is quite harmless when given fair warning as to its location and when it is alone. A simple flick of the finger sends its mass careening several feet away and out of harm's way. So, the Asian beetle is tolerable in many circumstances, but it only takes one bad experience to ruin one's perception of the species for eternity.
I've already declared my affinity for the season of autumn. There are few snags with this declaration, but the presence of Asian beetles is one of the main detractors. Right when a person is beginning to adjust to the cooling temperatures, a week of Indian summer hits. Once the temperatures again find their place in the high 70s, bugs suddenly appear which had previously been perfectly content to mind their own business in the bean and corn fields.
Asian beetles and box elder bugs appear in hordes and turn solid walls and windows of buildings into squirming masses. The invaders easily make their way into homes.
I have many memories of the fall season and, unfortunately, some of those include scooping up tens and hundreds of Asian beetles into containers. That is where their stinking corpses would rot, creating a smell more pestilential than the plague. Did you just grimace in remembrance of the time when you touched the back of your neck, found a beetle, flicked it away and then smelled its residue? Please don't throw up on the newspaper.
Sometimes, Asian beetles resort to tactics most abominable. My brother has been one of the unlucky souls who, on one occasion, found an Asian beetle in his mouth. Never leave your drinking glass unattended. Also, it is my recommendation that you never open your mouth when running or biking during this time of year. In high school, one of my friends found himself losing more than just sweat while running outside during gym class.
These are dastardly creatures, bent on hindering our enjoyment of the great outdoors during this beautiful season. As a child, I would grab a basketball from the garage and head outside to shoot some hoops. As I passed through the doorframe, I would feel an oppressive presence of heat, movement and stench as hundreds of Asian beetles scuttled along the walls and door.
After bouncing the ball a few times and taking a couple shots, I would commence flicking the beetles off of my shirt, pants and head. Less than five minutes later, I would be back inside, scooping up beetles from the windows.
My attitude toward Asian beetles has not changed over the years. When my family moved to rural Fillmore County, our irritation was doubled as the number of box elder bugs matched and even exceeded the beetles. They had been a rare problem in our previous home. What joy.
This year, I had noticed the non-presence of most insects throughout September and had hoped for an Asian beetle and box elder bug-free autumn for the first time in my life. 'Twas not be as Oct. 1 turned into a wonderfully warm and frustratingly bug-conducive day.
There I was, finishing up writing an article and making approving glances out the window at the clear blue sky. Then I stepped outside and stirred a swarm of box elder bugs into a frenzy. I groaned within myself. Upon returning inside, I remembered that I needed to write my column. What a perfect opportunity I had to proclaim my dislike for those bugs.
Back at the dinner table, I eyed the Asian beetle sitting directly overhead the salad. "There is only one solution to this," I said in the spirit of dark humor, "Get the shotgun." I was informed that we didn't have a shotgun. My brother-in-law grabbed a tissue, squished it and threw it in the garbage.
A half hour later, it was back.