the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Adventures with wildlife continued

One of the really nice things about living in Utah is the lack of humidity in the air and therefore the lack of everything that accompanies humidity. Things like frizzy hair, sweaty hands, swarms of mosquitos, and Tarzan.

What. Don’t tell me you’re a fan of Tarzan. No. Sure, he looks great in that leopard print underwear. But can you imagine trying to have a conversation with him about anything or watching him eat plate of ribs? I mean, the noise alone.

One of the really bad things about living in Utah is the lack of humidity in the air and therefore the lack of everything that accompanies humidity. Things like waking up without a hardened sculpture of mysterious particles inside your nose, the ability to go more than an hour without moisturizing your face, lips that don’t require a daily vat of healing balm, and enjoying a house free of boxelder bugs in the winter.

I’m being a little dramatic considering that if we were to conduct a side-by-side comparison, the grossness of a boxelder bug versus the grossness of a cockroach is the same as the difference in size between Cleveland and, oh, the entire solar system? If you’ve got cockroaches, you’ve got my sympathies. And my sincerest apologies that I have to decline the invitation to your home.

Boxelder bugs are so harmless, in fact, that my adorable, dimpled three-year-old loves to hold them, loves to cuddle them in her hands and coo. She loves to name them and let them crawl up her arm. She loves them so much that last night she found one before we were scheduled to leave for Leta’s piano recital and demanded that I keep it safe until we returned home. I was in a hurry so instead of STOMPING ON IT WITH MY SHOE I grabbed a disposable cup and trapped it on the table.


And then two hours later after we got home and she wanted to see it (I keep wanting to refer to it as a him as if that thing had feelings or emotions or would cry while watching Dead Poets Society), I lifted up that cup only to realize that I had pretty much cut off its oxygen supply. Oops! It wasn’t totally dead, just very nearly dead. It was about this dead:

Thankfully she found another one as I made this discovery, and because it was her bedtime I told her I’d keep it safe with the other one in the cup overnight. And then I grabbed a knife and poked a bunch of holes in the top of the cup. And then I called my mom and asked her to put both boxelder bugs on the prayer list at the temple.

Marlo was very fascinated with why I jabbed those holes in the cup, and after I read her stories and sang songs, she sat up in her bed and said, “You poked holesth in the cup stho the bugsth can have air and not die stho I can play with them tomorrow.”

Yes, that’s exactly why I did that. I kept bugs alive in my house because you’re my daughter and I love you and your happiness is the most important thing in my life. Oh, and guess what Marlo? Next time you see Grandmommy you tell her that the prayer list at the temple needs to have its batteries changed:


Tomorrow I’m hosting a funeral for two boxelder bugs. Who are apparently going to turn right back into dust because the Mormon God sure doesn’t care about them.

  • Sincerely, Jenni

    2013/02/21 at 3:14 pm

    Those darn things freak me the heck out. They just randomly appear out of nowhere in the weirdest places. I had one crawling on my desk at work the other day, and I hard to try real hard to keep from shrieking “Get it out! Get it out! Get it out!” Ack.

  • The Absent Minded Housewife

    2013/02/21 at 3:18 pm

    The bug on the right is a girl. I can’t tell on the bug on the left cuz it looks squished. The horns on the butt on the bug on the left (the wheels on the bus go round and round) are it’s ovipositors.

    I wrote about a dead turtle today. It’s all good.

  • Rachel Sea

    2013/02/21 at 3:36 pm

    They make little screen bug houses that kids can put bugs (and leaves and water and dirt) in to be able to watch them. If you get her one of those the bugs will probably live longer, and you won’t need to keep them in your house.

  • Courtney

    2013/02/21 at 3:41 pm

    As a kid, I remember slurping up boxelder bugs with a dustbuster at a friend’s house.

  • Kate

    2013/02/21 at 3:43 pm

    Oh the things we do for our children! I once saw a black widow spider IN MY HOUSE and saved it in a jar because I knew my insect-loving daughter would want to see it when she came back from her dad’s. You and I both deserve gold stars. Or Purple Hearts.

    PS. I really love Marlo’s lyspth.

  • Cristy

    2013/02/21 at 4:03 pm

    One of those mother fuckers flew into my cleavage while I was riding my bike in Provo Canyon a hundred years or so ago. Boxelder bugs? We are not friends!

  • Cristy

    2013/02/21 at 4:05 pm

    Hahaha, AMH, I feel like my day is complete now that I know the sex of the bug! 😉

  • LesinDenver

    2013/02/21 at 4:29 pm

    Then there’s my 3-year-old who sees a box elder bug (which we call “stink bugs” in our house – no idea really why) and says, “Stomp it, mama!” Which I do without hesitation. 🙂 We also spent a good hour on Saturday spraying the ones that had congregated on our south-facing wall – well, I sprayed them (with a solution of laundry detergent and water) and then he smashed any that were still moving with his baseball bat. Fun times in the Wild West!

  • Jessica

    2013/02/21 at 4:43 pm

    They actually are a part of the cockroach family. They CAN damage your home — it takes a lot of them, and takes them a long time, but ti is possible. I had a massive infestation for three years in a row before I finally had to invest in box elder tree removal + monthly sprays from Orkin. they are nearly impossible to kill. I hate them. I had nightmares about them. I would look out my window at the tree and see red pulsating patches of red, taking over the tree trunks. Shudder. So revolting.

  • Katybeth

    2013/02/21 at 5:10 pm

    Oh I love a good bug funeral–take lots of pictures! Perhaps your mother can make it up to you by coming to the funeral and singing….just a thought.

  • Christina

    2013/02/21 at 5:48 pm

    I do enjoy that these Utah bugs have the Mormony “elder” in their name.

  • SW Resident

    2013/02/21 at 6:39 pm

    Maybe some water dribbled on the table under the cup next time?

  • Heather Wolf Turner

    2013/02/21 at 7:04 pm

    I read this post with an extremely heightened sense of anxiety.

    I grew up in southern Louisiana.

    The roaches are of preposterous proportion. And they smell fear. Do not scoff or question this theory. I live to tell you, THEY DO.

    I bravely soldiered on through this post, feeling certain that a photo of the dreaded cockroach would appear.

    It did not. And for this, I heartily thank you.

    As for the sidebar ads for Orkin with the skittering beasts, or the ad that happily demands you to CLICK THE ROACH FOR A PRIZE…may they all burn in a fiery death from the heat of a thousand suns.

  • Julie S

    2013/02/21 at 9:28 pm

    All boxelder bugs at our house are named “Climbey” in honor of the first one my (now) seven-year-old son played with until it died of exhaustion. We get multitudes of them in the house each fall and it’s really hard to tell them apart, you know?

  • KCMomma

    2013/02/21 at 10:08 pm

    I’m in Missouri and I’ve still got boxelder bugs in my house from this summer. How the hell do they stay alive?

  • edenland

    2013/02/22 at 4:45 am

    All I’m saying is, Australian bugs are ten times that size. I kill them mercilessly.

  • lornadoone1972

    2013/02/22 at 7:29 am

    Actually I live in Florida, on the gulf coast, where it is humid as hell and we get these ALL over our yard and house twice a year – start of teeny and get pretty big and get up our walls and in our house. So they are not just dry air bugs – they like any air!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more