A Beetle Story — or, a Tale of Two Beetles

I saved two beetles tonight.

My daughter had spotted one in her bedroom yesterday, “just chilling” on the wall, as she said. To her credit, she didn’t freak out as she might have done in previous years. But this evening, we spotted another one — same species, but bigger in size — in the hallway.

I grabbed an empty cup and went after the bedroom one, first. It panicked and flew away. (Bridget shrieked at that part, but kept her cool.) She located it on the curtains, and I snagged it with the cup and a book underneath, carried it downstairs and threw it outside to its fate. Repeated the process for Beetle No. 2.

I thought about feeding them to Elizabeth Reptile, but seeing as they were of unknown origin, I felt it best to just not do that. What if they’d been exposed to pesticides? One cannot be too careful when one is choosing insect snacks for one’s Bearded Dragon!

Nor would Skittles eat a beetle. She’s simply not that kind of dog.

But how did the beetles get in? I’d love to know the answer to that mystery. Our house has its nooks and crannies, some of which definitely admit mosquitoes at dawn and dusk. There are holes just under the eaves outside the bathroom upstairs, where the wall was damaged outside long ago and never properly repaired. You can see the light streaming through when the room is dark with the door closed. I’d imagine that would be the best point of entry for them, but how would they get from bathroom to bedroom when the crack under the door is sealed with cloth all the time?

Sneaky beetles.

Maybe they were attracted by the light, too. Beetle A (let’s call him Andy for fun), dodging owls and sparrows and spider webs, sees a beacon away up on one of the big things that the two-legs go in and out of. Andy’s heard tales of the safety within, that the big things are havens for small beings as himself, and he goes to investigate, barely missing the sharp snap of a raven’s beak.

Inside, Andy finds great stretches of smooth wall on which to rest, but little food and less company. He sends out a pulse, calling to his kind to join him. Soon, Beetle B (her name shall be Bea) hears his signal, faintly, drifting out from the openings of the big thing. She follows the light, makes her way inside, and settles with gratitude on an expanse of space to enjoy the respite from predators.

Soon, Andy and Bea grow hungry. They are torn between staying in the safety and seeking out nourishment.

Safety trumps hunger.

And then, suddenly, in the darkness, light that is not the sun blinds Andy. A two-legs approaches, limb outstretched. Panicked, Andy flees, desperate to find the exit. The limb comes toward him again, blunt like a tree branch but smelling of predator. He leaps to fly and his movement is halted by a force he cannot see properly, something more smooth than the wall that goes in an unending circle around him. Trapped within, he cannot even warn Bea before he is carried down and down, through the great caverns of the big thing, and then hurled back out into the dark night.

Andy flies to the closest shrubbery, seeking new shelter before he is eaten.

A few moments later, a shaft of light opens in the dark and he sees that Bea, too, has been caught and released. She escapes into the grasses.

Andy shudders, the cold damp seeping into his thin legs, but he is grateful to have food again. Perhaps, after he has fed, he will seek out the entrance to the caverns once more. Better hungry than dead in a bird’s gullet.

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