To think of my little beauty getting busy with her sticky bolas, slinging it around as hopeful male cutworm moths circle...well, I had to share that one with Science Club, every fourth, fifth and sixth grade member of which now knows about bolas spiders. In the process, I learned how to convert YouTube files to .mov files that I can keep on my computer, because Liam's school blocks YouTube. There's a free service at zamzar.com that will convert the files into a format of your choice and email them to you! Who knew? So you can have awesome film clips without accessing the Net.
I noticed first that its cerci, the two antenna-like projections at the tip of the abdomen that are one of the roach family's distinguishing characteristics, were very small, but still present. Its legs were heavily barbed, strong and stout. It looked like a miniature version of the Madagascar hissing cockroaches I used to visit in their plastic shoeboxes in the Harvard Biolabs. I knew that I had seen this bug before, but only in a photograph. A photograph in my brand-spankin' new Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America.
Here's a roach and its nymph, a picture taken off the Net. Vastly superior to mine. I found this insect a bit tough to photograph, since being out in the light upset it and it made endless circles around the perimeter of its enclosure. This is a jolly good shot, even though it's lifted. (I wish I could find it again to credit the photographer.)
Cryptocercus. Hidden cerci. Yeah. Punctulatus would mean spotted. In the words of Tom Morrison, the foreman of the construction crew that built our birding tower, I was "all ate up." I jumped up and down, pumping my fists like Tiger Woods after a birdie. High-fiving Bill. New Bug! Weird Social Long-Lived Bug! In our House! Still am all ate up, to have this venerable Appalachian social cockroach circling around in a plastic pitcher on my kitchen counter. But none of that could have happened unless Kenn Kaufman and Eric Eaton and my beloved publisher, Houghton Mifflin (Harcourt), had gotten it together to make this brand-new field guide to insects, this gift to the planet, to Science Chimps everywhere. Get yourself one at your local bookstore, or order it online. Give yourself the gift of knowing your roaches, your stink bugs, your odd long-horned beetles, your Midas flies and scorpion flies. Let your curiosity rule the day. Tune in to the previously inaccessible world of insects.