Alien Bugs


John Costello/MCT

Published: April 9, 2009

I told my mom to take a seat. I knew the current situation was going to cause a familial issue, but I knew that if I didn’t tell her my dad wouldn’t take care of it.

“We have cave crickets at the lake house,” I said anticipating her hysteria. She looked up at me confused.

“What are cave crickets?”

“They’re disgusting bugs that jump and they’re huge and yea, in the house,” I said. I was almost excited because I knew a battle was brewing and I was to be the catalyst—me and of course, the bugs. I told my mom because I knew this story would take preference to all others. I appreciated the momentary attention it gave me, even though the fight to come would never end.

“What?” she yelled.

“Look online, I’m sure there are pictures,” I said. She turned towards the computer and started searching. My mom started by typing cave crickets into the Google images search section, where the vermin appeared front and center. She then moved onto Web sites about how to remove the bugs from one’s house.

Though virtually harmless, cave crickets are easily the creepiest looking insects on the planet. They have a small dark center with long legs that can spread out far and help them jump extremely high very quickly. They have antennas and small eyes. At first glance, these creatures resemble very large spiders almost four to five inches in length. Unfortunately, they do not make noise like normal crickets, which allows them to escape easily once they jump. When scared or threatened, they often jump on their predator, often hopping up to six feet in one jump. They also only come out at night, relying on damp areas such as caves and wooded areas to accommodate them.

“PEEETTTEEE,” my mom’s high pitched voice echoed throughout the house. “Pete, did you see these things. Oh my god. Agh, I can’t even look at them. In our house? Where we live and sleep?”

My mom read aloud one story about a woman who constantly woke up to the crickets in her bed, sometimes on her face. One Web site said that the crickets were extremely hard to get rid of, especially in the woods because they love damp areas with leaves and trees.

“Deb, calm down, they’re bugs,” my dad said entering the room. “There’s no need to yell.” He then glared my way and shook his head. He was obviously mad I told her.

“Pete, look at them,” my mom said tilting the screen towards my dad.

“I know what they look like. They’re crickets,” he said. “Another reason to not go up to the lake.” My mom stood up abruptly. His indignation made her even more furious.

“What do you mean you know what they look like?” she asked angrily. “And I think this is a pretty good excuse.”

“I saw one before. Outside by the water leak.”

“I bet that’s why they’re in the house. It says here they like dampness. That leak caused them to come in, Pete. This is your fault. You should have fixed it already,” my mom shouted. Their fighting over the lake was routine and normal, sort of like my dad’s feelings about the cricket. It was just another entity of the atmosphere. It didn’t bother him.

I tried to sneak out of the room into the kitchen, but my dad saw me and followed.

“You knew mom would flip out about something like this. Why’d you tell her? I was handling it,” he said.

“Dad, I saw a few of the bugs you know? It wasn’t just one.” He didn’t know. I could tell in his face he knew he was wrong.

I was having a small party in the lake house when I first saw it. It was about eleven o’clock, Natty Lights were scattered everywhere and we were listening to a mix CD of ’70s music dad left in the radio. The largest, strangest looking bug caught my eye on the white tile floor.

“KILL IT,” I screamed grabbing my friend’s boyfriend, Jim, by the shirt. He quickly turned around to come face to face with the creature. He was extremely hesitant, a little scared. He slowly crept up to it and stomped with all his might. The bug was almost as big as his shoe. The cricket jumped about five feet even after being smashed by a grown man. We all screamed. It went under the stove. The creature moved out an inch and Jim tried to crush it again. The cricket jumped across the room and Jim, now furious at this immortal bug, jumped multiple times. Its long legs receded under the thorax; it lay motionless and then died.

“What the fuck is that?” I cried as Jim stood examining the lifeless carcass.

“Alien bug,” my neighbor Caitlyn answered.

“What’s an alien bug?” I looked around the party nervously.

“They’re all over the lake. Freaky bugs,” my friend Taylor, who lived in the area year round, answered.

My mom already loathed the lake, the house, and everything associated with it. It was a struggle to get her up there on weekends every year. My dad is extremely persistent though, like that first bug. He keeps maneuvering with new bribes and plans to try to get my mom to reconsider. Cave crickets were now just another bullet point on my mom’s anti-lake excuses.

“I’m not going up there until they’re gone, Pete,” my mom said. My dad glared my way and shot me a dirty and frustrated look. I immediately regretted my decision to confess to my mom. I hated being on his bad side.

“Fine. I’ll go this weekend and get rid of them. I’ll seal up the cracks and put in a dehumidifier.” He spent all weekend working on the house, setting up bug bombs and securing the perimeters.

We never saw any more cave crickets the rest of the summer, but the endless battle over our summer home is as resilient as that first bug. Mom would prefer it be crushed and Dad, well, he probably likes the company especially when he’s up there alone.