Creepy crawlies and questionable questions

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Updated Sep 4, 2014

As summer comes to a close, I lament the loss of daylight and warm sunshine, but I do celebrate the dying off of the bugs. The regular jaunt between Springfield and Laredo is a bugfest during spring and summer months. Our windshield is a killing ground and the side mirrors are furry with remains from clouds of various swarming, buzzing, bitey things. I’m not going to lie — I’m supremely happy when we stop and I notice an abundance of sweat bees smashed into the grille.

We have a regular stop in Missouri, and have become friendly with the staff of the Pilot we frequent for showers and fuel. Robert is one of the employees who seems to be there every single day, no matter what time it is. The last time we went in for showers, Robert stopped me in the hallway with a paper cup in his hands.

hellgrammite“Hey, do you know what this thing is?”

He showed me what was in the cup. The first thing that popped into my head was “scary as hell,” followed closely by “Ohmygosh, I hope he didn’t find that in the showers.” It was a bug, but not just any bug, it was a huge, fat, frightening bug with pinchers and horrifically bulgy eyes.

“Aaauugghh! It’s a nightmare bug! Get it away from me!”

“Is that what it’s called? A nightmare bug?”

He shook the cup just enough to make the thing snap its pinchers. I was making my way across the room, as far from the scary bug cup as I could get.

“Please tell me you didn’t find it in the showers.”

At this point, I was fully prepared to forgo ever bathing again, especially if it involved anything even remotely close to this bug/nightmare/thing.

“Nah, I found it outside near the retaining pond, but I’ve never seen anything like it. I was just wondering what it was.”

By this time there was a little crowd of people, craning their necks to see what was in the cup. Here’s an important tip to remember: if someone walks up to you in a truck stop with a cup and asks you to describe what’s in it, just run. Don’t even bother looking, because it’s either going to be gross or scary.

You’re welcome.

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Anyway, after several curious truckers took a look, it was ascertained that the nightmare bug was indeed a Hellgrammite, which is the larval state of the Dobson fly. And yes, I spent a hour of my life reading about Dobson flies after a cattle hauler from Arkansas explained their fascinating life cycle to our crowd of horrified onlookers.

I went on to take one of the most uncomfortable showers of my life, waiting for a Hellgrammite to leap on to my face any minute. Yep, I love summer and I’ll miss the warm sunshine, but as far as I’m concerned, the hell bugs can freeze with the retaining pond.

Bring on the fall!