Writer’s block: It’s a bug’s life

Insects of all shapes and sizes have taken over the Johnson house – more specifically, one room of our home.

Kelly Johnson
Kelly Johnson

There have been lady bugs, spiders, box elder bugs and horned beetles taking up residence under our roof.

Unlike the ants that try to come in of their own volition each spring, these bugs are not uninvited guests.

Rather they have been selected and welcomed into our home by at least one family member – our son.

Born with a natural fascination of all things having to do with nature, it really comes as no surprise that he has taken to creating welcoming habitats, stored in his bedroom, for these insects.

Over the years, his room has housed a unique collection of rocks, animal bones found on nature hikes, feathers from the birds visiting our yard and Ziploc bags full of deer fur, gathered from a spot where deer bed in the woods.

There is also a glass full of shells he has fished from the lake during summer swims.

His rock collection grew even larger this fall when his first-grade class was studying rocks as part of a science unit.

Now this spring, science has moved on to the study of insects.

Their classroom housed caterpillars that turned into butterflies which they recently released outside.

And when a wasp took shelter in their classroom, their teacher gathered it up and put it in a container so the students could safely look at it and study it.

After a lesson on creating a proper habitat for insects, complete with water, food and a place to climb, the students were encouraged to find their own insects, create a proper environment for them and bring them to school to share with the class.

That’s how my son’s room has come to house such a variety of bugs in the recent weeks.

After bringing collection of insects to school, he decided his “pets” needed a proper home in his bedroom.

After a quick scan of his room, the home was obvious – on his headboard, directly above where he sleeps at night.

Of course! Who wouldn’t want to lay comfortably down, preparing for dreamland and look up to see a container full of beetles and other insects? Sweet dreams indeed!

But, for a seven-year-old boy it was perfect.

Before hitting the hay, he would check the insects’ water supply, remoistening the paper towel as needed. Then he would smile and tell his “pets” good night.

It was a sweet scene for sure, but a couple of things kept running through my mind.

The first thing that comes to mind is that episode of “Everyone Loves Raymond” where Robert is dating that girl who eats flies and has a room full of frogs.

My son doesn’t eat flies, but about 20 more plastic storage containers and that bedroom would be running close to what was portrayed on screen in her bedroom.

And what about that statistic that says how many spiders a person consumes in their lifetime while they are sleeping?

I can’t remember the exact number, but a single spider is one too many for me. If those insects get out, it’s only a matter of time before they could become an unanticipated late night snack.

I shudder at the thought.

But, despite my trepidation, I will continue to allow the bugs to call our house – more specifically, his bedroom – home for as long as this insect obsession continues.

For one thing, he is excited about what he learned in school.

I have lost track how many times I have been educated by him about the three parts of an insect: the head, thorax and abdomen.

The second reason I’m not too worried about bugs overtaking his room is that come fall, nature’s supply of “pets” will greatly diminish.

Of course, there’s always a chance someone will get him the ant farm he’s dreaming of… but I’ll worry about that another day.