Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Visitor from Africa

DISCLAIMER: I have been known to do dumb things from time to time when it comes to the outdoors such as (but not limited to) trying to catch critters that don't want to be caught, climb into caves to visit toothy animals who don't like visitors, or the outright handling of crazy reptiles and bugs that I should just leave alone. For this I blame my parents. They restricted me to a fenced in back yard as a kid in the Pennsylvania mountains until I was 5, when there was a perfectly good stream and vast forest I wanted as my playground. By the time I was allowed beyond the fence at an elderly age of six, I was way to big to fit into most of the holes my dog avoided.

So on to this story. Lets set the stage...

Sunday around 8 p.m. my girlfriend and I get home from a day of what-have-youzz and we hear a loud buzzing/grinding noise. We are no strangers to loud noises, coming from living next to some of the craziest neighbors you can have in our pasts, but this noise is definitely something ALIVE, crawling, stuck, baiting me to stick my head in a corner to find out – who knows.

We narrowed the noise down to an area we have a bunch of art, packages and posters rolled up to hang on our walls. I start the process of finding the source, pulling out each piece slowly as she anxiously watches, waiting for me to get pounced*. After some searching, I find a package tightly wrapped with tissue paper and tape. BINGO.. something is crawling around in this thing, and its not happy. As I unveiled my findings she informed me of something we both were not ready for... This package was a wrapped gift from a friend in AFRICA. Some sort of hand-made candle holder. We both freeze, knowing some creature has probably hatched in this package thats way out of our league.

(*) NOTE: It was this exact moment I learned women don't find it humorous when you grab yourself and start yelling like your getting attacked by something. Who knew.

We now know we have a problem on our hands, with two different solutions. She wants it out of the house, possibly to a local environmental lab or something who will contain it. I want to do battle. In fact I REALLY want to do battle. I want to open that package and show whatever this bug is who's boss. Ok, sounds a bit harsh but in all honesty my curiosity overwhelms me.. does it have giant pinchers, a stinger, polka dots? I'd at least like to get it out of the bag and into a jar or something so everyone is safe. We settle on a compromise and put the package in the freezer to wait out.

So onto Monday (yesterday for those paying attention). We decide to open it up after dinner. I can't lie, I've been thinking about getting a look at this thing all day. The mystery really gets me. I realize, when it comes to evolution, humans have come leaps and bounds with brain power and our ability to invent, yet have NO DEFENSE against something the size of a quarter with big fangs and pinchers – other than running away and hoping it doesn't fly. I need some weapons. At my side I stack a knife and a razor blade. Even though I have these things to only open the package, I like to thing if this bug brings fangs or sharp objects into the picture, I have him matched. In my other hand I have my trusty fishing pliers. Again, if I'm facing pinchers, I'm matched. Also, I can say I love touching critters, but there's no way I'm touching this one. If the bug can fly, I don't have much to guard myself, so I grab a hammer to compensate.

Open seseame:

And here it is. I can't take credit for it, the freezer did all of the work.

If you look closely, your eyes are not fooling you... It is 2 bugs; a roach AND a wasp. We think its one of these little buggers, a Emerald Cockroach Wasp: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerald_cockroach_wasp

From wikipedia (trust the source with your own risk): "The wasp proceeds to chew off half of each of the roach's antennae.[2] The wasp, which is too small to carry the roach, then leads the victim to the wasp's burrow, by pulling one of the roach's antennae in a manner similar to a leash. Once they reach the burrow, the wasp lays a white egg, about 2 mm long, on the roach's abdomen. It then exits and proceeds to fill in the burrow entrance with pebbles, more to keep other predators out than to keep the roach in."

This process can take a while, which is why we didn't hear the little guy until almost 2 weeks. The insect is now back in our freezer in a glass jar. We'll be calling some local adgencies to ask about removal.

In all it was an experience, and a reminder that when you buy something from a different country, check for crazy bugs like wasps who eat roaches, because you may bring home more than you thought.

And if that happens, call me.. I kicked this bugs arse:

1 comment:

John Hazard said...

I don't see a candle holder.