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Bug Power

Last week, while mak­ing my way across the office park­ing lot, admir­ing the rain gar­dens in full growth and ready to catch the next round of storm runoff, I noticed what looked like a mot­tled, pol­ished stone in the sea of asphalt. Get­ting closer I real­ized this was no stone… it was mov­ing. When close enough to iden­tify, I quickly reverted back to my child­hood fas­ci­na­tion with insects and was in awe of my lat­est find.

You see, I grew up in a time before orga­nized sports con­sumed week­ends and long before video games were the after school activ­ity of choice. With so much ‘free time’ on our hands and liv­ing on the edge of sub­ur­bia, my friends and I spent time roam­ing the fields and woods behind our neigh­bor­hood. Between the ages of 11–13, we became crazed insect col­lec­tors. Armed with insect nets we would hunt down, iden­tify, and build col­lec­tions of all the bugs we could find. We com­peted to be the first to catch a cer­tain species and traded bugs to fill out the miss­ing parts of our col­lec­tion. We didn’t go any­where with­out our tat­tered insect and but­ter­fly guides stuck in our back pocket.

Great mem­o­ries, but long ago I gave up my insect mania to address what seemed like the big­ger agen­das of envi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment. Yet, that morn­ing on my way into work with my mind full of stormwa­ter man­age­ment pol­icy, best man­age­ment prac­tices, and envi­ron­men­tal per­mit com­pli­ance, I stopped to admire this rather large insect strug­gling to make his way across an end­less park­ing lot. In all my days I had never seen a live Her­cules bee­tle and I thought, what a prize he would have been back in the day. Con­vinced that no one would believe I had seen this crit­ter, I picked him up and put him in my brief­case to show the office mates.

What a hit he was that day! Folks came from all around to see this two and a half inch long bee­tle hang­ing out in a cup on my desk. I was reliv­ing my child­hood, bask­ing in the inter­est my insect friend cre­ated for me and oth­ers. Of course I had to take him home to show my not-so-interested wife (she has a hard time sep­a­rat­ing any bug from stink bugs these days). I put him in a lit­tle ter­rar­ium with a dirt floor, some tree bark for shel­ter and a chunk of melon to feed on. I took a pic­ture of him and sent it to all my friends who I thought might be interested.

Too often we get wrapped up in our jobs and the tan­gen­tial aspects of why we do what we do. Some­times a moment with an insect is needed to refresh the mem­ory as to the impor­tance of envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, why we write these envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies, search for the best man­age­ment prac­tice or make sure all our oper­a­tions are in com­pli­ance with envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions. Very sim­ply, it is for our envi­ron­ment, the bugs, and the kids who will enjoy their fas­ci­nat­ing life history.

To read about the East­ern Her­cules Bee­tle here are some links:
http://bugguide.net/node/view/2877 http://arthurevans.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/453/.

Foot­note: After a few days of obser­va­tion, and won­der­ing if I could keep this bug as a pet like a kid with a her­mit crab, I chose to let him go under a hedge near our house to live out his life where he was meant to be.

Jim Cald­well
Sep­tem­ber 2012

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