Camel Crickets….

I was working at  the receptionist job at the doctor’s office one day.  I was just sitting in my chair working away.  The desk faces the patients as they sit in the waiting room and there is a window that opens and closes between the desk and the waiting room.  So… I am working away and all of a sudden something from behind jumps over my shoulder and lands down under the desk.  I saw this out of the corner of my eye so I was not sure as to what I did actually see. Scared to death, I just as suddenly slid/scooted backward with my chair (it is, of course, on wheels).  What in the world would be behind me and jump/fly over my shoulder and why? I have to say that I have never seen anything like that before where something went flying over my shoulder from behind! The patients must have seen this as well, or at least my reaction, because when I looked up they were all laughing.  I think the window may have already been open and we started talking, me excitedly talking, nerves and a bit of fear will do that to you.  I asked if they saw what happened and we were discussing the events and the situation. They were mostly laughing about my reaction, but then again, I may not have shut up long enough for them to say anything.  Their laughter was a good thing, because it helped me to laugh as well and calm me a bit.  I assume they felt safe since they were out there and not in the area I was in.  I am quite positive, judging from the fact that it jumped over my shoulder, that it could have made it to them in just one jump!

The doctor was in with a patient, so he was of no help. I finally got the nerve to get down on the floor to see what was back there.  It was just a bug, so I got something to smash it with.  To my surprise and fear, that thing jumped like crazy.  So did I, believe me!!  The patients were laughing and wondering what it was.  I scooted way back away from the desk.  I told them I do not know what it was, but I was just going to sit right there until the doctor came out and he could get it.  I told them that it looked like a giant spider but he had his legs lifted up and it was like he had his elbows in the air and I demonstrated this.  I leaned over and placed my palms flat.  Then I bent and lifted my elbows until they were sticking up way above my back and my head.  That is exactly what they looked like!!! We were all laughing, but I was still a bit scared. I resumed my place in the middle of the room on my chair.

The doctor came out from seeing a patient and just brought the chart back to me and started telling me what to do for the patient.  I asked him if he would like to know what I was doing sitting in the middle of the room.    The patients in the waiting room were laughing.  I described this insect with the funny legs with their elbows in the air and again demonstrated it. He just sort of looked at me like I was crazy.  He got down on his hands and knees and crawled under the desk with a clipboard to kill it.  That thing jumped at him and he jumped out and was just as scared as I was.  He nearly hit his head on the bottom of the desk.  This made me laugh! He asked me what it was and I told him I did not know.  He was hesitant, but after a bit, he got back under there and killed it.  The patients and I were having a great time laughing.  I would not scoot clear under the desk with my chair after that.  I figured  that the creature  surely had some friends with him.

My daughter called me shortly thereafter  and I told her about it.  She instantly said oh, it’s a camel cricket.  She seemed to know this instantly and was very calm about it. I questioned her and said I had never heard of such a thing.  She said she had some at work herself and to be sure to not make eye contact with them or they will jump right at you.  This was crazy to me. I was telling her how afraid I was of it and how it jumped and was disgusting.  She just calmly said that they were and that she hated them too.  I know it was the grossest thing I had seen.  (Well, wait, there is the praying mantis.) I told her he came from behind and jumped clear over my shoulder.  She just said, “Yep, that’s what they do.  They can really jump, do not look at them.”  I cannot believe that she had experienced these and I had not known about her encountering them.  It was so scary, I cannot believe she did not call me and carry on all shook up like I was. After we hung up, I googled the thing.  Here it is:

camel-cricket-image

She was exactly right! I told the patients about our call and what it was.  I showed them the picture and showed the doctor.  See how their “elbows” are all stuck up in the air.  Yuck!  They have these huge “thighs” on their back legs.  I assume those are their “jumper legs.” I cannot remember if the patients or the doctor had seen these before or not.  I know that they really enjoyed watching the whole thing and that we had some laughs over the situation.  I am now called their buggy friend and we tease each other about this.  I will never forget that day and I did make some new friends.

Some days later, my husband came running in from his woodworking shed that is behind our garage. He told me I had to come outside there were hundreds of huge spiders in the garage and they were going nuts and jumping.  I am certain there were not hundreds of them, but this was his fear speaking! He said he had never seen spiders jump like that.  I exclaimed, “Oh no! They are camel crickets, go out there and spray them with something!”  He said they are not crickets they are spiders and he lifted his arms to describe how they were sitting.  He was acting just like I was that day at the office.  He was as scared as I was.  I told him about my story at work and how our daughter knew just what they were and told him to get out there and kill them now!  (I felt like Barney here on Andy Griffith when he told Goober to get down there with those spiders! haha.) I am sure that he did not believe me.  He was standing there going on and on and would not stop talking about them.  I had to practically force him to go back out there as he seemed more scared then I was. He was almost terrified, haha!! He wanted me to go see them.  Knowing what I know, I adamantly refused!  I practically had to shove him out that door.  He came back in shortly and said to me well, that killed them all.  I showed him the photo and he said that is just what they were!  He was as amazed as I was about them and how we had never seen them let alone heard of them.  How odd that all three of us encountered them for the first time around the same time.

I do not know how they suddenly appeared here in our town and we had never ever seen them before in our life.  I even grew up a country girl and thought I had seen everything. I would like to never see them again! I think they are the ugliest things I have ever seen.   They get the award. (Well, there are the eyes of the praying mantis!)

Just like the bats, we have now learned a lot about these camel crickets.  They are mostly nocturnal which is why they were in the garage that night so vividly hopping around.  The article also said they do not chirp so their jumping is the only mechanism they have to scare off predators.  Can you imagine what my husband must have seen out there?? One was enough for me.  He probably was envisioning something like a movie, “The Attack of the Killer Camel Crickets!”  I would have loved to have seen his face.  That will teach him for making fun of me when I get scared!   We learned that they like damp areas.  We live at the bottom of a slope/hill, and have had lots of rain.  I am sure that the woodworking shed is damp.  On top of that, key word…woodworking shed.  They love wood piles, mulch, leaves and garbage cans.  Not to mention the piles of wood in the shed, outside of the shed is our fire pit with a case full of wood for the pit.  Beside the garage is a stack of logs, along with the garbage cans.  Guess what I will be getting rid of as soon as the weather warms up?!!!  Yes, camel crickets is what I am hoping to get rid of, but I meant, the wood, leaves and garbage can area will be cleaned up a little better and moved!

Bats in the Belfry?

cartoon_batWell, not in the belfry, but worse!  At least to us!

My sister had moved to Dekalb, Illinois, to attend Northern Illinois University.  A few months later, after I had graduated high school, I moved in with her.  She had rented a 5 or 6 bedroom bungalow.  Our sweet older neighbor lady would always be sure to tell us, “you know, you live in a bungalow!” She was a delight to know, but that is a different story. I shared a room with my sister.  The other bedrooms were filled, but I just remember 3 of the other girls at the moment.  Ruth, Kay, and Mary.  I guess that tells me that it was a 5 bedroom, or maybe the 6th bedroom was empty.  Anyway, my sister and I were in the bedroom in the back of the house with Kay down the hallway from us.  Sort of in the middle was Ruth and near the front of the house was Mary.  I am sure I am forgetting some detail here, but I have enough detail to get the story told as it is something I will never forget. I did do some corroboration with Mary.

It was bedtime and my sister and I were in bed, Kay was down the hall doing homework or something in her room.  She suddenly runs out into the hallway and is yelling, “you guys, you guys, there is a b-  a b-  a b-  a big, a big, a big,  b-  b-  b- ” and about that time this thing comes into view,  wings spread and hovering/floating down the hallway.  My sister and I finished her sentence for her exclaiming,  “Bat!” The bat actually did not look real.  I guess it was the shock of seeing it, but it was just floating and was so big. Chaos breaks out and Kay screams as it is coming toward her.  She runs into our room and jumps into the middle of our bed.  This causes our dog, a big German shepherd, to get into bed with us as well.  He had to protect us from this girl, you know. My sister and I are carrying on a conversation with each other while Kay is screaming and screaming.  My sister tells Kay that he is in the hallway and it is okay. We are discussing this bat and his whereabouts and what to do.

The girl in the middle room, Ruth, starts screaming.  She comes running out and says that he is in her room.  We say no, he is in the hallway! We banter back and forth about this a bit and Ruth yells that he just came from behind her bed and she proceeds to run into our room and jumps into the middle of the bed with Kay.  The girls are screaming and narrating where he is.  He is in the hallway, he is back in Kay’s room, he is in Ruth’s room.  My sister and I are still in the bed in the prone position due to the others being in bed on top of us along with our big dog.  We are discussing that Ruth goes up in to the attic and out on the roof to tan or to just sit or to read all of the time and that perhaps she left the window in the attic and the door to the house open and he got in.

I guess that the entire time we are discussing the situation and the others are narrating what room “He” is in, Mary, in the very front bedroom, is in her room calling to us.  I guess we sort of heard her, but it did not register as we had more important things to discuss.  Ha Ha.  Imagine her fear in there wondering what all was going on.  I still get so tickled about that to this day and laugh and laugh.  I can just picture her in there by herself wondering what was going on… that is the funniest part of the story to me.

Back to the bat,  the girls are still narrating/arguing what room “he” is in.  My sister and I look back down the hallway because we have finally figured out how “he” must have gotten in.  We are trying to quiet the other girls who are hysterical.  We then realize why they are confused as to what room the bat is in…. there is not one bat, but two!  We finally hear Mary asking what is going on and concerned about just who “he” is!  This is why it is the funniest part to me, I do not know why, but it makes me laugh hysterically when I tell people this part of the story.  You have to imagine this….It is suddenly quiet as can be, I guess it is the shock of there being two bats that we are speechless.  Therefore, we can plainly hear this little soft imploring voice, trying to remain calm, calling out, “Oh you guuyyys?  WHOOOOOO is in the hallway??!!”  Ha, ha!  Poor girl.  We all immediately start laughing and my sister finally regains composure and explains that there are two bats flying around.  We are discussing what to do, still pinned in bed with two girls and a dog on top of us when out from the kitchen comes a third bat!

This is just too much!  Unreal!!! Three scary bats! Bats are okay I guess, but I do not expect to share a room with them.  I get the house and they can have the whole rest of the world.  That is not too much to ask. My sister hurriedly closes our door and tells everyone to get out of the house.  My sister was always a take charge type person.  She always had the situation under control or would be certain to get a situation under control.  My sister told everyone to get out of the house but not by the door. I, to this day, do not understand the “do not use the door idea” unless she just meant for us in the back bedroom to go out the window due to the bats seeming to be directly on the other side of our door. I think my sister and I got dressed because we were in our bedroom, maybe not, but Kay and Ruth went out in their pajamas. I think we took the dog with us, but I am not sure.  I do not think we would leave him there alone with those monsters and stuck in the bedroom without access to the rest of the house.  So, following my sister’s weird command to not go out the door, Mary went out the window on one side of the house and the four of us went out the window on the other side of the house.  We all got into the car and asked my sister where we were going.  We had no idea where to go.  What DO you do in a situation like this anyway?  You see,  we all depended on her,  this is why i always thought she was in control.  Actually, all of must have felt the same way, because we all waited for her to tell us what to do and did just exactly what she said to do.  Hey, she asked us to go out windows when we had two perfectly good doors, and we did, didn’t we? Well, she headed for the police station.

We all go in, five of us.  I don’t know if you remember a style of pajamas called baby doll pajamas? I will post a picture here.  Well, Kay had on a white pair of this type of pajama.

baby doll pajamas

We are not exactly tall girls, but we are not terribly short either.  However, we are standing at a tall counter looking up toward the officers while they are looking down at us. There was this one policeman who was a little delighted to see Kay in her pajamas.  Haha.  He just could not take his eyes off of her.  We could not help but notice this.  Kay, when she realized she was in her pajamas, was totally embarrassed.  The one policeman did not mind at all, however.  Kay started to give him nasty-ish looks for looking at her. This Kay/officer situation has my sister tickled and she is loving it. My sister explains the situation to the two officers at the desk while keeping an eye on the officer eyeing Kay.  My sister has the twinkle of laughter in her eye.  The officers  sort of look at each other and one tells us that he can do nothing for us as he is afraid of rodents.  He says that if there is a mouse in his house, his wife has to take care of it. The officers look at each other and shrug.

The other officer, still infatuated with Kay, says we are welcome to have a room in the cell there if we would like.  My sister, as well as the rest of us (except Kay) were getting such a kick out of this.  You would just have to know Kay.  She was such a bubbly girl, always smiling/laughing.  She was now fidgety, trying to maintain a good mood, but not happy with this guy.  Her expressions were just priceless.  She would look at the officer and then look at us and make a face.  It was so hard to not just break down and die laughing. I so wish I could write it so you could picture it but I do not have the words. My sister, always getting straight to the point, replied to the offer to spend the night.  She looked straight at the guy and said yes, I bet you WOULD allow that but no thanks.  Then she turned to us making such a great face and we all laughed.  If I remember correctly, Kay probably did not laugh.  I am pretty sure she closed her mouth and glared her eyes in that look that says  I do not believe you guys think this is funny!  My sister was tickled the entire time about the Kay situation. Kay was a great girl.  You just had to know her.  She was always making me laugh, not by saying or doing anything, but just by being her. Her actions and reactions were so funny. The policemen were apologetic, but, of course, what could they do for us?  I do not believe that bat chasing is in their line of duty.

Kay and Ruth stayed somewhere together, at a friend of Ruth’s I believe, and my sister delivered them. My sister took the rest of us to our friend’s house, John, and we spent the night.  My sister, of course made some calls the next day and more than likely one to our landlord.  Someone that she called told us that we should get a lot of beer and some newspapers.  He said that we should drink the beer and roll up the newspapers and throw them at the bats. Everyone was seeming to have way too much fun with our situation.  We learned a lot about bats after that.  They could not be found easily anywhere.  They were not always obviously “hanging” around. We were told they are like mice and can fit through the smallest of cracks.

The landlord basically told us that nothing could be done.  I think my sister took it upon herself to call NIU and spoke with the zoology department, I believe. In any event, they connected her with a man they called, “the batman.”  The batman and a few students came over and searched our home and explained how terribly hard it would be to find just where these bats were hiding. He went on to say, but we found this insect on your lampshade and he is incredibly rare and poisonous.  We all went over to take a look at this rarity.  It was quite a pretty thing, various colors, bright blues, yellows, etc. He asked if we minded if he brought the class there on a tour.  He added that these insects may be an attraction for the bats. We, a bit angrily, told  them thanks for their help but to please leave now.  I am quite certain another call was placed to the landlord because he COULD do something about insects!  Like I said, they can have the whole rest of the world, but not my house.  Truthfully, we had not noticed an insect problem before because if we had, we would have already notified the landlord.  This “rarity” must have been a one time thing.

We were just stuck with these bats, we would have to figure it out on our own.  I am not sure what, if anything, we did.  I remember being back in the house and that they were not removed. I was always keeping an eye out for them.  This is stupid, but I would see a crack and then could visualize them folding up their wings like a coat and wrapping it around them and squeezing into it.  I told this story to a friend and we had fun with lots of ideas. We embellished the story different ways.  They would come and go through various cracks and crevices.  We saw them with little suitcases heading to work and we saw them with their families.  Our imaginations were on overload, but they did bring us a laugh. This was a coping mechanism perhaps. What torture!  Haha.

We started receiving cards in the mail from friends/comedians.  The cards said such things as “Bats in your belfry?  I am Batty for you.”  The cards were very creative and great!  Laughter is what we needed. I think some of them featured Grandpa from the Munsters… he was a bat, you know!  Our friends, my younger brother included, quoted the Munsters often. Do any of you remember this show?

One day a bat was found by John and another friend, Dominick.  He was hanging from an eave on the closed in front porch. They called out and we all acted quickly and someone gave them a can to catch the bat in.  They knocked the bat into the can and Dominick put something on top of the can to contain the bat and started walking toward the door with it.  All of sudden, Dominick screams, throws the can down onto the porch floor and takes off running out the front door!   He too, fell trap to the imagination.  Fortunately the bat went out the door behind him.  Who knows, though, maybe the bat knew how to get right back in!  We asked Dominick what happened.  He said he could picture it climbing out while he was carrying it and just sort of panicked and tossed the can down and took off.  Haha. That is understandable, we all were freaked out by the whole situation.

We had so, so many great friends in Dekalb who were around often and helped us through this.  We had some restless nights and days there for awhile, but I do not think we saw our winged friends again.  The door to the attic and the window in the attic were both kept tightly closed!  We had some great laughs about our unfortunate circumstances and continue to laugh today.  We had great laughs about many things, in fact.  I miss those friends! In spite of the fear, this will forever be a memory of mine and it is great that it brings a smile and a laugh to me every time I remember it!