I'm Buggin' Over Cave Crickets (Rhaphidophoridae)
Halloween is over and as I separate my candy from the razor blades and hypodermic needles, my mind wanders to thoughts of what I'm planning on saying I'm thankful for at Thanksgiving. I usually don't come up with anything that doesn't sound stupid or cheesy, because let's face it, when saying what you're thankful for, to a room full of people, you invariably sound stupid or cheesy no matter what you say. But what if I busted out with, "I am thankful that I got enough razor blades and hypodermic needles in my Halloween candy this year that I don't have to buy any for the entire month of November! CHA CHING!" Yeah, that would be funny. You know what isn't funny though? There's a fucking bug crawling on my head right now! AGHHHHH!!!
RIP Morphea, you were a good spider.Seriously, what is up with me and insects?! Those of you who know me personally can attest to having seen, on one or more occasions, a bug flying directly at my head like a kamikaze pilot. (Wait, would the insect be the pilot or the plane in this case? Whatever, you get the point.) Maybe it's the fact that my personality is so electric that I'm like a human bug zapper without the nasty burnt bug smell aftermath. Maybe it's my long hair which they perceive as decent cover whenever they're trying to escape a bat or whatever. Or maybe it's just a personal vendetta the insect world has against me on account of feeding them to Morphea, my pet tarantula, for all those years.
Whatever it is, I have had more than my fair share of bizarre, creepy and totally over the top encounters with the insect world that defy what anyone would call your average, everyday, normal encounters. Now I'm not squeamish when it comes to the creepy crawlies; in fact, I have a fair amount of admiration when it comes to insects. I actually think they're kind of cool with their highly organized systems of existing, their fascinating ways of problem solving, and their intricate ways of communicating. However, when dealing with insects that are obviously out to get me, I can't help but get a healthy dose of the heebie-jeebies from time to time. It's almost like a long time ago all the insects collectively had a meeting and decided to seriously mess with me more than anyone else, and I am certainly not one to be bullied or attacked without a full scale retaliation. Lately things have been getting a little more ridiculous than usual, so I decided it was time to historically document this ongoing war, just in case I don't make it and the bugs eventually win.
One of my biggest nemeses in the insect world is the cave cricket, something that quite literally crawled its way out from the depths of the underworld. This thing looks like the love child of a typical field cricket and a radioactive mutant mosquito. The end result is something that gives me the willies like no other bug on the planet.
The Cave Cricket, or in other words, The Enemy!It all started many years ago when I lived in a basement apartment and unfortunately had my box spring/mattress on the floor. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, frozen in complete horror movie-like terror, as I became aware that something very strange was sitting on my face! I reached up in my sleepy haze and felt this cold, rather large "thing" on my eye—ON MY FUCKING EYE! That is just totally uncalled for and about the most unnerving feeling I have ever had the displeasure of waking up to! I think I would rather wake up to Snooki from Jersey Shore than experience that sheer terror ever again. So me being the 6-foot tall, athletically built man that I am, I proceeded to leap from the bed like a deranged gazelle and shriek like an 8-year-old girl while throwing the vile creature across the room. I quickly turned on the light and all I could make out, as my pupils adjusted to the harsh light, was this thing hopping erratically TOWARDS me! Of course this left me spastically kicking my legs around like a light sensitive epileptic at a Pink Floyd laser show and running away like I was being chased by a T-Rex instead of a not-so-tiny cave cricket.
After that incident, I made it my mission in life to eradicate these things if any of them ever had the nerve to make their presence known to me again. At least maybe then I could try to recapture some of my lost dignity from that night.
As if actually sensing my declaration of cave cricket insecticide, or genocide, or whatever the hell you would call it, they have since launched several waves of physical and psychological assaults on me which I have had to retaliate for in kind. For instance, they shit bombed my barbecue! No joke, they actually shit bombed my grill! You see, to protect it from the elements, my gas grill has a cover on it, something which apparently looks like a giant cave if you're a cave cricket. These things seem to congregate and reproduce en masse, so where there is one there are usually one thousand before long.
Yo, you don't need to be all up in my grill!I'll never forget the day that I went outside with a plate full of chicken to fire up my grill for the first time after a long winter, and as I pulled the cover off the grill I was greeted by the horrific and traumatizing site of literally hundreds of these things jumping straight at my head. My neighbors were then treated to the spectacle of me running around the yard flailing and screaming like a retarded banshee. After spaz dancing all the crickets off my body and running into a tree in the process, I went back to the grill armed with the garden hose to find almost all of the culprits had fled (or regrouped) to some darker place unknown to me. There on my fairly new stainless steel grill were huge piles—actual huge piles—of what could only be classified as cricket shit! The stuff was everywhere and looked like really big grains of sand. Even after vacuuming, washing, scrubbing, disinfecting, and heat sterilizing the grill, I still to this day am significantly traumatized by the very thought of cooking on it.
This is not a garage band I ever want to see in concert again.Now of course, I wasn't going to let this assault on my basic infrastructure go unanswered, so I went to Home Depot and bought every kind of insecticide known to man and made a B-line for the garage. If there was any place in my environment that could ever be classified as a cave, it was my garage. I'm not the kind of guy to have an actual "man cave" so the garage is really just a rarely used place to store stuff I don't want in the house, making it the ideal hunting ground for cave cricket headquarters. It is made of cold concrete walls and is usually dark all the time, a perfect staging area for the cave cricket war machine. It was there that I found several platoons of evil cave crickets hiding and congregating by the hundreds. There were large clusters behind the work bench, some behind the shelving units, and others in a large storage nook; basically anywhere there was darkness there were entire divisions of cave crickets. After screaming at the top of my lungs, "LET'S DO THIS! LEEROY JENKINS!!!!!" I ran in there and carpet bombed that garage with so much insecticide that if you now touch the concrete walls you would probably develop full-blown Parkinson's Disease on the spot. So yeah, I sure did hit em' where they live... er... I guess technically where I live. Whatever, "at least I have chicken!"
A single blade for precision shaving, or random accidental lacerations.The crickets weren't going to let my full scale chemical warfare attack go unchecked, so in retaliation, one morning in a sleepy haze, I staggered into the shower and pulled the curtain closed while turning on the hot water. There were several ninja crickets on the shower curtain lying in wait, which of course all jumped at my head as soon as the motion and water alerted them to my presence. Now I am a fairly big guy so there isn't a lot of room in my shower after I get in, which means there isn't a lot of room to go running and screaming like a maniac when several crickets surgically assault. As a result, shampoo bottles fell, I suffered several bruises due to hurling myself against the opposite wall to escape the coordinated jumping attack, and of course, the scalding water burned me. I even cut myself on the BACK of my razor which I keep on a shelf in the shower. Damn those razors and their backside, single, precision shaving blades that are poised like a freakin' booby-trap even when the razor is face down!
Definitely less than a 32.33, uh repeating of course, percentage of survival.Oh but don't worry, I got mine! Did you know that "Tilex Fresh Shower" completely messes with insects on a neurological level? Yeah, I didn't either, but when you're screaming in the shower like the scene from Psycho, you desperately reach for anything to use as a weapon. A few sprays of Tilex Fresh Shower left these bugs twitching and dragging parts of their body around in small circles before finally succumbing to the chelating agent. That stuff works better than most insecticides I've found! Incidentally, now several random parts of my house may or may not smell really shower fresh upon closer inspection.
Now that it's November again and getting significantly colder outside, the cave crickets are starting to seek shelter from the elements. Apparently, this means the lower level of my house since the garage is now a cricket chemical war zone and the shower is a cricket neurological war zone. So the battle continues downstairs on a day to day basis, and things are getting pretty hectic. It probably doesn't help matters that I currently live in a split-level house and they instinctively consider the lower half of the house their territory simply because it is technically part subterranean. However, I have set up my lines of insecticide defense: I am dug in deep armed with my Tilex Fresh Shower and currently standing my ground while regularly removing the casualties. I must say, I am consistently amazed that as soon as I clean up the last round of fallen cricket soldiers they are immediately replaced by the next day's wave of deceased evil minions. I shudder to think how many would be in the house if I wasn't eliminating them as they arrive.
Some might think I am a little over-reactive and ridiculous, and they're probably right, but let me say this: my giant tarantula ate "regular" crickets as her main source of food, but she wouldn't go anywhere near one of these mutant-looking cave crickets when I tried to feed it to her, and I find that very telling. As if that wasn't enough to convince you how disturbingly creepy these things are, maybe this excerpt from their Wikipedia page will convince you.
It's on like Donkey Kong! "Cave crickets have very large hind legs with "drumstick-shaped" femora and long, slender antennae. They are brownish in color and rather humpbacked in appearance, always wingless, and up to two inches/5 cm long in body and 10 cm (4 inches) for the legs. On young crickets the body may appear translucent. ... To avoid starvation, they have been known to devour their own extremities, even though they cannot regenerate limbs. Given their limited vision, cave crickets will often jump towards any perceived threat in an attempt to frighten it away. Their large hind legs allow them to jump high and far. They generally reproduce indoors, especially in situations that provide continuous dark, moist conditions, such as a basement shower or laundry area, as well as organic debris to serve as food."
I don't know about you, but that is NOT something I am willing to cohabitate with and I am certainly not looking to become "organic debris." So as long as they keep invading I will continue to keep killing them indiscriminately. Besides, they fucking started it!