Monday, November 3, 2008

Box Elder Bugs

Piles of crumbling black and red bodies suffocate the windows of the English building at USU (which I’ve affectionately dubbed the Ray B. Baby), creating clouds of insect dust that seems to hover like an oppressive film over the glass. Live specimens pick their way among the debris of legs and broken antennas, sunbathing in the early morning sunlight. My eye catches the one climbing with steady steps up the windowpane and watches as it billows its wings out like a sheet and flutters to a stop at my desk. I cringe, fighting the urge to wrap my fingers around my face and run. I watch it click its sooty feet over my desk, black feelers probing the wooden grooves of the “Lord of the Rings” desk, and think back to Funda’s class last year when Bradford, Jon, and Rory all enjoyed the spectacle of putting bugs on my shoulders and hearing me squeal. Good times.

Box elder bugs always come in droves, never one by one. They crawl over each other, mating, oblivious to everything but their own instinctual passions. Hedonistic, they pour through the cracks into the pleasure of warmth and a rousing lecture on Mark Twain, parachuting down the pinpricked white walls and swooping up again with the breeze. The one on my desk continues to patter along over my notes, blackening its feet with undried ink. I start to feel itchy.

We sit here in opposition. Me versus It—one focused, collective, worried, self-concerned, the other following natural pleasures and the reflexes of survival, seeking heat and flight and sex wherever he can get it. I envy him for his freedom, but more for his simplicity. He envies nothing as he explores his newfound territory, this playground of wood and metal and carpet.

As the snow starts to fall by the flake outside and I start slowly adding more and more layers of long johns and sweaters, he moves less and less, conserving his energy. Mating season is over, and he prepares himself for months of stillness, stirring only in the piercing rays of noonday, occasionally letting a wing uncurl in the wind of a heater. I scrutinize his scrapings and rustlings, looking for signs—clues about the answer to my own existence. But all he does is nap in the dry heat, never considering for a moment that life has any reason for concern.


  1. I can't believe that you can be so poetic about bugs. I HATE box elder bugs. They used to be everywhere at my mom's house. Sometime I would even wake up to them crawling on my face. Gross!

  2. I agree, im rather surprised you can right such a lovely blog about bugs my dear. And all i have to say is Mark Twain- rousing?

  3. I hate box elder bugs. One would land on me almost everyday in my law and politics class.


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