Crawly critters

I am grateful for my lack of furry critters making use of my garden as their market. We have rabbits and deer in our neighborhood, but they haven’t found my garden to be worth the fence-hop. As for the community gardens, I can only assume they don’t like the busy roads on two sides.

I do get quite the surprise sometimes when it comes to the crawly critters. Awhile back, it was the caterpillar bigger than my middle finger. This time, it’s a few things.

Like this thing. A cicada shell. They’re currently peppering tree branches and leaf piles throughout the neighborhood.

Each board is two inches wide. It’s head is to the left, bent under. That horizonal line moving from left to right was the middle of its back, before it split the shell to escape in it’s new, bigger, shell. (Cue flashbacks to the movie Alien if you’ve seen it, I have not.)

I found this shell when chasing down a tree roach that leapt from the earth I was digging, just fast enough to make me jump before I saw what it was, and race off.

(Backstory: I grew up a tomboy. I liked lizards and spiders. Grasshoppers were fun. I claimed a daddy-long-legs in my bedroom corner as my pet when I was five. I went searching for earthworms and snakes to discover under boards in the pasture. I woke up once with a mouse on my shoulder, staring me down from four inches away, and was fine with it. And then I moved to Texas. The grasshoppers here make me jump. (They’re HUGE!) The lizards are more colorful (and plentiful) and I finally encountered a bug that just *got* to me. I finally understood the visceral reaction so many have in response to spiders, or snakes, or any other oft-feared creatures. I had encountered my first tree roach.)

I’m not sure of their actual name, but imagine a cockroach, that gets about three inches long, and FLIES. Then imagine it hosts a demeanor of an attack missile. Sometimes when you come upon one and startle it, it will actually run away. Other times, it will come AT you. It’ll get stuck in your hair, hang onto your shirt, and otherwise make you dance around hitting yourself like a maniac only to leave you with the creepy-crawlies for the rest of the day.

I mean…

Not familiar with a tree roach? This was the best photo I could snag of the fellow.

Or, for easier viewing, I found a funny post by another Texas-transplant here – with much better visual aids.

And then there’s the Case of the Creepy Sweet Potato. Fiber issues? Drought issues? Bug issues? What’s your guess?

We’ll finish this Creature Feature with a wonderfully ancient-looking caterpillar. It reminds me of both The Neverending Story, Chinese dragons, and Alice in Wonderland. Have you guessed yet?

It’s the happy-looking Giant Swallowtail Caterpillar.

See that charming smile?

I put him back on the potted orange tree where I’d found him. DH says he’ll be evicted if he takes more than his fair share. I went to check on him a few days later to discover that he had a new little friend of the same kind, and he himself had more than doubled in size.

In my brief reading to research this caterpillar, it became obvious that they like citrus trees. Why he and his brother selected the orange over the lime, I couldn’t say. Mimosas over margaritas, perhaps?

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11 comments on “Crawly critters

  1. We have cicadas up here, but nowhere near as many as there were back home, and I never find their shells. When we were kids, my brother and I held summer-long contests to see who could collect the most shells, with extra points for whoever found the biggest one!

    • plumdirt says:

      Ha! That sounds like a good summer contest between siblings! My brother, the two neighbor boys, and I would collect wheelbarrows full of wild cucumbers, pop a hole in them, and launch them back and forth. They exploded sticky stinky goo all over upon impact.

  2. Shannon says:

    An orange dog!! Did you get him to display his ometeria for you? What did you think of his delightful odor? I love any bug who can pass himself off as a piece of bird poop. Brilliant camouflage.

    Sweet potatos…hm. Water issue? Don’t know. Sometimes mine come from the grocer that way. I cook ’em anyway and they taste fine.

    A Texas story on cockroaches for you. Hope it doesn’t creep you out.

    A few years ago, a couple of my girlfriends and I were camped out in the middle of a cattle pasture (in a pen, to keep the cows away) in Brenham. The sun went down, the guitar, cards, and beer came out…apparently so did the giant (2-3″ length) tree roaches.

    Lounging by the campfire, I looked at my friend Jamie relaxing, sipping her can of beer, her legs appeared to be in motion. They were completely covered in cockroaches. She, of course, began the crazy dance of get-this-thing-off-of-me, followed by me and then finally Lindy.

    They were EVERYWHERE. Thousands of them. Like a horror movie. It was clear we were in their space, so we gave up and began laughing. Hysteria quickly got replaced by silliness, flicking at them only when they crawled across our faces. If only we’d had a camera. We even wrote and sang a cockroach song.

  3. Miachel says:

    Aww hahaha…I love you grew up a tomboy. Texas critters are pretty dang crazy.

    What a cute, furry caterpillar. Color me impressed by that moustache. 😉

  4. Alice says:

    I do not like to look at or be hit by cicadas. But I love their deafening sound on summer nights. I try not to think of bugs and have gotten used to most.

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