Spider - Crab...?

A few nights ago my husband was working on his motorcycle in the garage... I was summoned to help with holding parts and shining a flashlight in places. It was pretty fun - especially because it was the first night where I have been outside in a T-Shirt and jeans and not felt like I was going to suffocate from inhaling humidity or had sweat running down my back. Fall is finally getting here!!! I don't want to get my hopes up, but the past few mornings have been pretty cool as well - under 60! The days still get hot - around 80 degrees, but at least we are cooling off at night. 

Well - back to my adventure with an unknown bug in the garage. My husband points under the front fender of his bike and says, "Can you reach in there in grab that?" First of all, I didn't know what I was supposed to grab with those instructions. Secondly, all I could see was what I presumed was a spider hanging on its web under there! What? The spider?! I'm not sticking my hand in there... "Oh it's dead, just get it out of there," he tells me. Really? I don't think it's dead. 

My husband proceeded to blow on the bug. Which I still say was a spider since it had a web, but I've never seen anything like it before. Granted, it was hanging upside down, so I guess one might think it was dead... but it definitely started moving and of course panic ensued. I ran to the toolbox and grabbed a square. 

The thing wasn't big, and it seemed like it's back was heavy, so I used the square to scoop it out on its back and onto the ground. That's when it flipped over - revealing something I would call a shell! It was the weirdest thing! My husband messed with it and flipped it over as we were thinking what the H? You could hear the shell click on the ground and then it'd flip itself back over and try to run away. It was almost lumbering around... its gate (if you could call it that) reminded me a bit of a camel or elephant with one of those big saddle/tent things on their back. Very very strange.

We didn't realize it was still attached to its web and when it decided to pull itself back into the bike, I kind of freaked out. Don't worry, though. I got it back down onto the floor. "Should I kill it?" my husband asked. I don't know... It seemed like it might be hard to kill. He tested squishing it with the square and sure enough that shell was hard. I ended up just balancing it on the square and carrying it out a ways from the house and dumping it. I don't know. I've never seen anything like it and I didn't really want to kill it. That shell was probably full of babies or something and I'll regret letting it go, but it even had spikes coming off of it! Have you ever seen anything like this? It's probably poisonous and we northerners just had no idea.

And yes, I definitely DROPPED my nice camera in my rush to capture this. But it's okay and I think it was worth it. I really feel like this thing is a crab. But then it's black and has legs and a body that looked like a spider. And it was only the size of my fingernail... legs, shell and all. They aren't kidding when they tell you there are crazy bugs in Louisiana.


#1 Reason to Own a Cat in the South: Cockroaches

I don’t think I’ve written about the bug I loathe the most here yet… the cockroach. They’re usually about two inches (or more) in length and dark brown and disgusting. If you hear a crinkling noise like paper scratching on something… it’s probably a cockroach skittering along somewhere. I’ve gotten in the habit of searching the walls every time I hear a strange light scrape noise. Half the time it’s nothing, but the other half it’s a cockroach making its way down the wall. I immediately run for a shoe at that point and hope my cat keeps his eye on it so that I can find it and kill it when I get back with my weapon.

I know these nasty bugs are full of germs and can carry disease, so when I have smacked them enough times that their insides are oozing… I throw them outside, wipe up the disgusting, and Lysol the crap out of anywhere I saw it on the walls, and where it died. That might sound harsh, but you have to kill these suckers dead. And then you have to squish them a few more times, or I’m telling you they will take off and disappear while you’re going for a paper towel.

One time I was woken up in the wee hours of the night by my cat meowing and trying to reach up our walls. I finally roused enough to groggily flip on the light, and there was a huge cockroach running along the ceiling above my bed. It’s disgusting, and later caused me nightmares so I could hardly sleep there for days, but in that moment all I thought was: shoe. I have to grab one of my husband’s shoes because they’re bigger and heavier, and try to smash that thing before it disappears under some furniture or in the closet. I ran for the shoe as my cat tracked its every move from the top of our tall dresser. I had to climb up there too, to be able to reach the ceiling. Of course, as you swing for them they see you. They run towards you, or they drop and flutter their wings and freak you out. This one did a little of both and I jumped off the dresser backwards and landed on my feet, crouched and stunned… and checking that I was okay for a second. My brain was so fuzzy I could hardly comprehend what I’d just done. And then there was my cat again – going for the bottom of the dresser… and out the other side ran the ‘roach. I got him. I pounded the ground so hard I’m sure our downstairs neighbors woke up. I was sure it was dead – a leg was off and it was on it’s back and seemed pretty broken up. I ran for the paper towel to clean up, and when I returned … the cockroach was gone. Not to panic – I found it about 2 feet away from where I’d killed it [or so I had thought] – apparently making a break for it. I smashed it again and again and finally threw it outside.

There are so many stories like this I could probably write a book about the adventures we have with cockroaches here in the south. But, all in all, they are really just disgusting and quick and resilient bugs. And they make me incredibly thankful for my cat. He can smell them. He’ll sit in the center of a room and sniff at the air, and I know he’s checking for intruders. Man, if he picks one up, it’s over. It may take a while, and some cooperation on us humans’ part, but he has never let one go.

The best example of this happened just last week. We buy the long 12-can boxes of soda and store them on the floor near our kitchen… due to the lovely lack of storage that military housing provides here. One morning, the cat was really hanging out around those boxes. He was sticking his arm in and reaching around and I tried to distract him, thinking he was just bored. He didn’t give it up, so I pulled the box out into the middle of the room – thinking that he gets persistent like this when there’s a bug (and maybe a bug had passed by there and was gone now). I tapped and bumped the box and listened for any tell-tale skittering that would mean a cockroach was inside. All was silent. I proceeded to get my breakfast things together and was dawdling in the kitchen when I noticed that now my cat was pushing his face through the finger opening in the box (for carrying when you buy it). His whole face was inside and he was working on getting his ears through there! I told him, “okay, okay… what do you think is in here?” and grabbed a pair of scissors. On second thought, I also grabbed a shoe. Then I split the box along the top from the finger hole – the whole time fighting my cat back from getting in there as he was very anxious to see what was inside. Sure enough, I pulled the flap back and there was a cockroach crawling up the box flap RIGHT THERE! AAAaah! I was lucky enough to flip in out onto the ground and then proceeded to smash the daylights out of it. Literally. Gross! But necessary. Of course my cat watched intensely and was a little disappointed that he didn’t get to do the dirty work, but I was determined that this ‘roach wouldn’t get away. I then proceeded to Lysol the entire box of cans. And later I instructed my husband to pour any of the soda from that box into a glass when we drank it. So gross!

And those are only two of my encounters with nasty cockroaches. I am so tired of living in Louisiana.