Tuesday, June 29 2021

nesting instincts, pupas, and beetles

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Dear Journal,

Happy Tuesday, friends. It feels good to be here, doesn't it? OK, I'm lying. At the moment I feel incredibly tired and unmotivated, but I expect to feel great after I finish this giant mug of coffee. That's probably true about every morning. Before coffee, the morning feels bleak and hopeless. After coffee, I feel like Snow White frolicking with cartoon animals in a meadow.

Sip. I have a lot of bug updates for you today. Scrolling over our photos, I couldn't believe that I forgot to upload pictures of our sling enclosure. We must have forgotten in all the craziness of last weekend. It was Wednesday, and realistically we should have been packing for our trip. But instead Marissa and I indulged in some brief procrastination. I had just received my baby spider enclosure kit, and I decided to pick her brain about how to set it up. It came with a big hunk of cork bark, a bag of cocoa fiber, a plastic plant, and some moss. "But this stuff doesn't all fit in the tiny cube," I explained.

Marissa's dremmel happened to be charging on the table. She had just used it to trim the dogs' nails. "I could file it down with the dremmel," she suggested. "What shape is it supposed to be?"

Two empty suitcases sat on our bed adjacent to a pile of clothes, and yet there we were filing down a piece of cork bark for a baby spider.


Marissa retrieved the hot glue gun. She expertly attached the plastic plant and a tuft of moss. Lastly, to serve as a water bowl we sliced off the bottom of one of her plastic pipettes. A sturdy, decorated cave. A convenient water bowl. A fresh bed of moist dirt. We sat there for a moment in silence, taking in the sheer coziness of it all. This is going to be one happy spider.


There is a larger tank around the smaller enclosure. If we can keep it alive, the baby spider will grow into a big hairy tarantula and we'll move it into the bigger tank. But for now it serves as a humidity controlled nursery.


"Just for future reference, if you ever want to get me excited about something, just make sure there is a craft involved," laughed Marissa. It's true - somewhere between the shaving and gluing, Marissa's nesting instincts were activated.

We'll pick up a baby spider sometime in the next week or two. I'm still trying to get the humidity right. Humidity is perplexing - you might think that our warm, humid summer would make an easy win, but humidity is a very fickle. Warm air better retains moisture, but direct sunlight can also dry out the container. I'm still trying to understand all the factors at play in our sunny, drafty bedroom.

In other news, we have a beetle! During a routine check on the pupating super worms, one cup stood out from the rest. In a pile of droppings and dried up molts, a single coffee colored beetle struggled on its back. I delicately relocated him into the second tank.


"Can we name him Adam?" asked Marissa.

"Sure. He can be Adam." I laughed, knowing that a few days from now Adam will be indistinguishable from the others. But being the first of our super worms to make it through the difficult pupation phase, I suppose he deserves a little bit of respect. Adam found refuge in a corner of fresh oats. He took a nibble of a cabbage leaf, and now he patiently awaits his Eve (or his Steve).

More good news - out of the two graduating classes, only one worm failed to pupate. I was almost certain he was dead, but as weird as it sounds I moved him into the freezer to be sure of it. Super worms aren't native to this area, and who knows what kind of havoc they could cause if released into the world. Plus, throwing a likely dead super worm into the garbage is just asking for trouble. God forbid he wakes up in our city dump all the time and free food he needs to plan his revenge.


Rest in peace. Now back in the freezer just to make sure you're dead.

Since the other hateful eight have formed pupas, they no longer require the darkness and seclusion of a cardboard box in my closet. The pupas can remain on the shelf where we can watch them hatch.


Boy, this unintentionally just turned into a very buggy update, didn't it? Our car was in the shop yesterday, so our whole family walked to ice skating practice, and then to a nearby restaurant. I was going to have a lot of fun lampooning them for "anti-child eating" practices, and then I was going to share a fascinating story about how my neighbor died over quarantine. But I guess you'll just have to tune in tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Tuesday, everyone.