I feel that it is my duty to warn you – living with an entomologist is hard work. You might think that they just want to be alone with their bugs and their studies, but there could not be anything farther from the truth. The real story is that if you have a bug-lover in your home, you are every bit as involved as they are. I’ve had to learn this the hard way. So to make it easier for anyone out there who is living – or may in the future have to live – with an insect-loving person, these rules are for you.
RULE #1 – YOU ARE EVERY BIT AS IN LOVE WITH BUGS AS THEY ARE
Notice I didn’t say you must be in love with bugs – I said you are in love with bugs. And yes, there is a difference. This doesn’t mean that you just pretend to be in love with them. This means that you are every bit as interested, every bit as fascinated, and every bit as eager to see the latest crawly critter as the entomologist. You will be required to ooh and aah over them and at times to hold them to prove that you aren’t afraid. Because, after all, you love the bugs as much as they do.
RULE #2 – YOU WILL NEED TO DROP EVERYTHING WHENEVER A BUG IS DISCOVERED
Yes, this is true. And yes, I do my very best to adhere to this rule. I have burnt cookies because I’ve been busy ogling the very same kind of beetle that we just looked at yesterday, because this one is a little shinier. I’ve ignored Julia’s stinky diaper because my entomologist swears she saw a ladybug with yellow spots and she needs help finding it. And on Sunday morning she burst into my room early in the morning, waking me up because I just had to see an inchworm she found, and she would have let me sleep but she knows I love bugs (see Rule #1) and therefore I wouldn’t want to miss it. And yes, I got out of bed. And held the bug.
RULE #3 – YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO TAKE PHOTOS OF EVERY BUG YOU SEE OUTSIDE OF THE PRESENCE OF THE ENTOMOLOGIST
This is one of those rules I learned the hard way. Prior to discovering this rule I would try to describe every cool crawler I saw while my entomologist was at school at the end of the school day when she got in the car. However, there were major problems with this method. For one, by the time I picked her up I had forgotten important details, like if it had a long or short abdomen, if it had speckles, or if it wiggled its rear when it walked. Yes, I was asked that once. Not being able to answer these questions with 100% confidence was extremely frustrating to the entomologist. Second, it totally bugged her (pun intended) that she missed whatever insects I’d seen. And lastly, if you don’t have the actual bug in front of you, having a photo is the next best thing so that you can see if it’s exactly what appears in your Bug Encyclopedia. (See Rule #4). And yes, I’m aware that a snail is not an insect.
As stated in Rule #3, photographic evidence of insects is extremely vital to one of the most important parts of being an entolmologist, second only to seeing the subject with one’s own eyes. But bugs and photos of bugs are not enough. Oh no. It is imperative that a true, serious, expert entomologist has a degree in Entomology. However, if said entomologist happens to be in 2nd grade, a massive Bug Encyclopedia or a mom who is willing to Google will suffice. As a Bug Encyclopedia is only so big, the odds are at some point you will be asked to look something up. In this case, it was to confirm that the spiral of delicate white insect eggs were, in fact, lacewing eggs. I was not confident. She, of course, was 100% correct. Notice the proud See-Mom-I-Told-You-So grin? Yeah, get ready for those too.
RULE #5 – YOU WILL NO LONGER BE ALLOWED TO KILL ANYTHING
I think this is pretty self-explanatory. Everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – is now under the strictest enforcement of Catch-and-Release. And if you forget and squish something – even if it isn’t where it belongs (meaning inside the house/car/purse/etc.), watch out. Annoyance, anger, lectures, and possibly tears are sure to follow. You have been warned.
RULE #6 – YOU MUST BE OPEN TO ADOPTION – BUT WHEN NECESSARY BE ABLE TO TALK YOUR ENTOMOLOGIST OUT OF IT
Every so often our entomologist thinks that her creepy-crawlies need to live the high-life. Grass, dirt, drops of sprinkler water, and the shade of a forgotten toy are no longer good enough. This is when she decides to bless their little bug lives with hotels. And condos. And teepees. She even throws in free transportation to said habitats. I cannot tell you how often you can hear me in the backyard saying, “Emily, they are NOT pets. They don’t want you to make them a living room.” She’s good to them – so good to them that on occasion, it kills them. I’ll never forget the time she put a giant bowl of water in a bug container with 3 millipedes. I’m not sure what she was thinking… swimming pool perhaps? All I know is that the next morning she was heartbroken to find them – uh – “swimming” in their version of Lake Okeechobee. Dead, dead, dead. It’s not always easy to convince an entomologist that insects are fully capable of finding their own dwellings, but be ready to try. And no, this caterpillar is not dead, although he’s probably dying of embarrassment.
Ok. I’ve officially equipped you to deal with the ups and downs of life with the bug-crazed. Now, go buy this book. As Emily says, “Every entomologist needs an encyclopedia to help them study better.”