Friday, May 21, 2010

Cave Crickets, Bugs and The Census

The other night, I woke to the sound of Bugsy eating something on the floor beside the bed. Like most cats, he has no couth about eating; he smacks, chomps and eats with his mouth open and is just as noisy when he laps water. So his food and water are in the kitchen.

Curious, I turned on the overhead light and found him eating a cave cricket. Ugh. Half of it was gone and he seemed to be struggling with the obscenely long legs still attached to the other half. For those of you who have never encountered a cave cricket, hope that you don't. They typically live in caves (hence the name) or other dark places. Like basements. These are not the common, cute little field crickets that chirp and bring to mind Jiminy Cricket. No, these ugly critters belong to a different family altogether. My last run-in with a cave cricket was during my growing up years, in our basement in Villa Rica. It is one of the few insects that truly makes me shudder.

I'd forgotten how many bugs live in Georgia. And how prolific they are, especially during the rainy season. When I lived in Southern California, people used to ask me if I liked the fact that it was relatively bugless. Having discovered those little blackflies that hang out around water (which is just about everywhere in SoCal), and having been bitten like the dickens on numerous occasions, garnering welps big enough to make me call poison control, I'd look at them cross-eyed and say, "Bugless? You've GOT to be kidding."

HAHA! Joke's on me. How could I possibly have forgotten about the cornucopia of bugs that live, thrive and bedevil those of us living on the East Coast? Specifically, in my case, North Georgia.

We have these huge, black carpenter ants that run around like crazies, doing something or another on the deck. They seem to be particularly adept at finding their way in to the house. And scorpions, yikes. Another loathsome insect that sends chills up my spine. One had the audacity to run across my bedroom floor the other night when I was sitting right there. I smacked it with my notebook and stomped it with glee. Out of my house, sucka! A couple of days ago, I encountered another one on the wall by the washing machine. So I smashed it. With a flip flop.
Darn basement. It's bringing all kinds of unsavory creatures in to my house.

Yesterday morning, whilst sitting for meditation minding my own business, I got buzzed by a mosquito doing a fly by. It was probably part of the advance guard of the droves that are sure to visit this year. There are plenty more bugs, like the fruit flies, but I'll leave those for a later story.

Back to the illustrious cave cricket. I'm working late hours with the census this week. Supposedly, it's easiest to catch people at home in the evenings. Assuming they have the common courtesy to answer their door. Most don't. (I hope you're not one of them.)

Two nights ago, I rolled in at 9:00 p.m. Bugsy didn't greet me, as he usually does. I found him in his hidey-hole in the closet, loved him up, then let him sleep while I watched the season finale of Brothers & Sisters. Later on, when he didn't come to bed, I dragged him out. He acted droopy and kept licking his lips and swallowing.

Yesterday, it was worse. He was gagging and wretching. He barfs up grass and stuff all the time, so I wasn't terribly concerned. But this was different. So I googled. He wasn't exhibiting the signs and symptoms of distemper or any other scary cat illness. It didn't seem to be a hairball attack. His appetite and thirst were intact. He went outside and chased birds and squirrels, so no lethargy. He didn't seem to have a fever. The only symptom was the gagging every time he ate or drank. So I decided to watch and wait.

In the afternoon, I talked to a patient who runs a kennel and has worked with vets and kennels most of her life. She told me how to determine if he'd been bitten by one of those danged old bugs. Or a spider. Negatory. She confirmed my wait and watch,

Then I told her about his late night cave cricket snack. Aha! That was it. Apparently, they have pincers on those scary legs. She figures he upchucked one and it stuck in his throat. And assured me it would dissolve. So I'm waiting and watching. And feeling empathy for my little kitty. At least I know it's not serious and that he'll live.

I, on the other hand, may not. This census stuff is killing me. In a figurative way, of course. I am NOT having loads of fun. And I'm getting tired of being yelled at by people just for doing my job.

People, please. If a census worker calls you, be nice. Answer their questions. They, too, are just doing their job. If they knock on your door, please answer. Ignoring them is costing you, and the rest of us, taxpayer dollars. When you ignore them they have to call and/or come back. And they're getting paid. Time and mileage. If you're in the boonies, like most of my addresses, you're costing us even more.

This is my message to this morning's screamer.
You don't have the decency to answer my knocks, or my calls, or to pick up the phone and call me back. Yet you scream at me on the phone, like a big, fat baby, when I call you for the fifth or six time. I've made six or seven times trips to your house in the middle of the woods, got out of bed early in the morning and had to stay out late in the evening trying to find you at home. PUHLEASE! Get a clue! Look in the mirror and yell at the person who is REALLY being offensive.
There. I've said it. Now I'm done. Do your duty and answer. It's much less painless for all concerned. There are people, like me, coming behind the enumerators. It's called Quality Control. Be courteous. Be nice. Joke with them. Lighten up. 'Cause the fact is, I'll be back. I might even have a cave cricket in my pocket.

To my screamer, I pray that you be blessed this rainy season.

Pictures from top to bottom: cave cricket; carpenter ant; brown scorpion; blood-sucking mosquito; Bugsy with last season's strawberries on his face (ain't he a crack-up!)

9 comments:

Eric W. Trant said...

A cricket leg stuck in your throat? Nice.

When I was a kid -- and I mean before I was 3 -- I remember (yes, I remember, graphically, in fact) sleeping with my mouth open, on my back, on the couch in our living room in Louisiana, so the crickets could jump out of my neck.

See, I told my mom my neck hurt, and she said, "Oh, you have a cricket in your neck."

So I slept with my mouth open so he could jump out. Believe it or not, a good nap with you mouth open will sure sooth out those crickets in your neck!

I also had this mouse in green coveralls whose job was to push out the poop. That's a whole nuther story, though, and has nothing to do with crickets.

I never did get that mouse out...

- Eric

Olivia Herrell said...

OMG, Eric, I had to read your comment twice and it made me laugh out loud both times! You still sleeping with your mouth open??

I get the cricket, but am mystified and intrigued by the little mouse, and especially his classy green coveralls. You simply MUST tell his story soon, I'll be looking for it.

~Olivia

Postman said...

Yer right, cave crickets are the creepiest. I like scorpions, though. Especially the giant ones in movies. Probably wouldn't be too keen on them if they crawled into my sleeping bag, though.

My buddy Chris is working for Dewey Pest Control, going door-to-door. He says some people don't even bother answering the door. They just holler "NOT INTERESTED!" from their couch. Abhorrent. How rude can people get? I'm sorry you have to deal with those losers.

You wrote a lovely epistle to your screamer. It should serve as his elegy, in a just universe.

Man! Driving all day and all night through the boonies of Georgia to get hold of the people who didn't file a census return! And with a gagging cat and all. What a job...I'm full of nothing but admiration for you, Rebel. Hang in there, and don't let the crickets and screamers get you down. My regards to Bugsy.

Zoe C. Courtman said...

OMG, I'm originally from Maryland and now live out past Covington/Conyers in Georgia, and--DUDE. Georgia has the most monstrous, mutant freakin insects I've ever seen. You know what my 15-year-old stepson brings me yesterday? A big ol camel cricket. We're talking, like, a two-incher. *shudders* I'm SO with you there on Georgia bugs :D P.S. Thanks for joining my blogfest!!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

What was truly creepy was just before Hurricane Rita hit, waves of the largest, most mutant cockroaches along with bugs I had never seen before came sweeping towards the Apartment complex where I lived. They were heading for safer ground. Unfortunately, that ground was already taken, thank you very much!

Thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting on my loglines. And yes, I did indeed stack them in the order I preferred myself.

Yes, Zoe, those camel crickets could carry Lawrence of Arabia on their backs down here in Louisiana. Why, I have seen some mosquitoes carry off small kittens.

Sorry. I was channeling Mark Twain there for a second. Get out of my head, Mark! Roland

Olivia Herrell said...

Postman, thanks! Bugsy is feeling much better, though he's still swallowing around that cricket leg, poor baby.

Saturday I actually talked to a delightful man who snuck up behind me as I was knocking on his door hollering, "Knock, knock, is anyone home?" He had six dogs and a cat and two of the dogs were pregnant by a little black chihuahua! Yup, I left shaking my head, but was delighted that someone was actually home and was nice to me! :)

Zoe, thanks for stopping by! We're practically neighbors, my mom and dad lived in Buckhead on Lake Oconee for years. I love Madison! Camel cricket, cave cricket, whatever name they go by, they're just plain fugly!

Looking forward to your Cognitive Dissonance blogfest, berfday sista!

Roland, a whole wave of bugs and la cucaracha, BIG shudder!! Did you write a story?? That's just plain scary. Thanks for stopping by and bringing Mark with you.

FARfetched said...

Ah yes, crickets and other bugglies!

We hate spider crickets when they get in the house — they're fast and they'll come right at you. But one of the funniest things I ever saw involved a cricket: in a mama cat's mouth. Its legs were splayed every which way and the mama cat was prancing, she was so proud she'd caught it!

Olivia Herrell said...

I think Bugsy was proud, too...until that darn pincer got stuck in his throat. He's still not totally recovered!

JRyanP said...

Hi Olivia, I came across your blog post from googling about cats getting cricket legs stuck in their throat. My poor kitty swallowed one of the legs, and it's stuck in his throat. Do you mind sharing with me what happened with Bugsy? Did it just eventually go away?

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