Bug-eyed (adj.) wide-eyed with amazement or fear

How appropriate. I hate bugs. Anything with 6 or more legs makes my skin crawl. When my 10th grade biology teacher announced we had to turn in an insect collection, I was horrified. My aversion to bugs is exceeded only by my disgust at killing them; I cannot bring myself to even swat mosquitos. I just leave them alone and hope that they extend me the same courtesy.

Fortunately and unfortunately, bugs were drawn to my house like a modern, entomology adaptation of Noah and the Ark. One night, I heard my sister screeching at Mom about a cockroach on the wall of her room. Roaches are Mom’s kryptonite; I don’t know why she expected help from that quarter. Heroically, I grabbed a container and rushed to my sister’s room, a band playing in my head. Triumphantly, I clapped the container over the roach…and froze. I felt like Superman, defeating a villain, only to discover he had never taken off his glasses or put on his cape! I was a mild-mannered, slightly-geeky news reporter (or freelance blogger). I had no idea what to do now that I had actually captured the beastie. The slightest move and the roach could start flying toward me.

Mom tossed painters tape from the doorway. I taped the container over the roach, hoping that it would suffocate. My sister refused to even enter the room. Finding the idea of sleeping beneath the live cockroach display unappealing, she moved to the guest room for the night. In the morning, we called our cousins to transfer the roach to a Ziploc bag.

Feeling like a murderess, guilt and horror ruined my sleep from my first kill until I speared the corpses with pins and presented them to my teacher. Lying in my bed, I imagined insects crawling up my legs, on my wall, in my wall…one night I dreamed that a praying mantis kept following me around. I can’t remember much of the nightmare, just desperately trying to get away from this green insect in a pious position. At the end, I was screaming, kicking, crying, pleading with it to leave me alone. It looked at me with an expression in its buggy eyes that seemed to say, “Dude. I’m a praying mantis. I don’t know what you’re saying.”

That day, I was trying to classify my insects when I stumbled across pictures of a praying mantis attacking and eating a hummingbird. I thought, “I am so glad I have never seen one of those before!” (I had never seen a praying mantis, not a hummingbird.)

The next day, Mom called me out from my room to tell me that there was a collectable bug on the screen. I grabbed a container (the same container used in the cockroach episode. In retrospect, I don’t know why I thought that would work this time) and sped out to capture my insect. Because it was high up, I had to stand on a chair, clap the container over the bug, and drag it down. When I saw it, I froze. A praying mantis.

Thank goodness for painters tape and cousins.

After drafting this post, I went to put a load of clothes in the dryer. As I cleaned the lint screen, I noticed a roach about 3 inches from my hand.

The screen clattered to the floor and the roach scurried under the washer.

Looks like another sleepless night. And…it may be time to do another load of laundry.