Nemesis

field cricketI caught him at last, that cricket, the enemy of my sleep! He was hiding behind my shrine, throwing his chirp so it sounded like it came from the black mirror or the bowl of artificial fruit. I caught him first in the beam of my flashlight, then in my hand, then in a drinking glass just long enough to snap a photo before banishing him to the outer darkness.

They say a cricket in the house is good luck, but I think a cricket outside is even better luck — for the cricket, at least. It’s not very likely to get lucky if it stays in here — take it from me. Besides, this house isn’t big enough for the two of us. Last night, after having kept quiet all evening, it started up just as I was drifting off, and I had to retreat upstairs and shut the door.

Why do field crickets come indoors every year, I wonder? I suppose they like the acoustics, and not unlike some poets I know, it doesn’t bother them if they’re performing for an audience of zero. Which wouldn’t be such a problem, I suppose, if their refrain were a little more varied and a little less shrill.

Just as I finish typing that last sentence, I glance over toward the wall next to the file cabinet and there’s another cricket! Or maybe it’s the same one — I only took him a hundred feet from the house. I dive for him, but he leaps away and scuttles under the moulding. Crap. I guess I’ll be sleeping upstairs for a while.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

19 Comments


  1. I hear one every year in the elevator shaft here in the building where I work. Talk about not likely to get lucky.

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  2. I’ve never been very happy to share house room with them ever since one attached itself to my leg late one night and wouldn’t let go. It was about the size of an office stapler and for sheer tenacity it shared some of its characteristics. Eventually it came apart in my hands and I spent the rest of the night with knees drawn up in bed, listening to thousands of its siblings creaking away outside.

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    1. Sweet dreams.

      And thanks for the bedtime stories (including Sherry’s and Dick’s). Made me smile.

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  3. Oy. How grisly, Dick! I’m glad Dave’s story is more suitable for children and massage therapists. :-)

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  4. Since living in the country we’ve found that nature seems intent on invading the house. A roost of over three hundred bats under the roof tiles renders my studio fairly pungent in the summers. Cluster flies in their thousands wriggle their way around, under and over the sash windows every autumn, intent on finding warm winter hibernation under floorboards and behind ancient wallpaper. (We’re currently restoring and draught-proofing the windows to thwart them. An expensive undertaking, but they’ll continue making an unholy mess of our rooms unless we do this.) Mice strip our new underfloor central-heating pipes of insulation to make their nests. Just a few weeks ago a swarm of bees decided to nest in the void between the chimney flue and the steel liner of our wood-burning stove, emerging through the tiniest crack in the masonry into our sitting-room when I lit the fire. They were dusty and as mad as hell! (I didn’t know they were in there before I set the fire ablaze! They flew into the large bay window… at that time still sealed shut with paint, though since restored to use… and I managed to get them all outside with a jam-jar and a postcard. It took about two hours of back and forth, but despite the fact that they were very rattled, they didn’t sting me.)

    I had no idea that the denizens of the wild would be in such a hurry to move in with us. We have crickets outside, but they seem not to have moved in yet! The dog brings in ticks that we remove from his skin with little plastic ‘tick-twisters’ that we keep in every room! Birds are forever flying through the open front door and have to be caught and evicted. I found what I thought to be a brooch someone had dropped in the hall, and stooped to pick it up it only to discover that I had a live though soporific lizard in my hand! I feel like I’m running a boarding-house, and that none of the guests pay!

    Don’t get me wrong. I love it really. Well, apart from the flies and damage wrought by the mice!

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    1. A nice, dry house is desirable to some critters for many of the same reasons it’s desirable to us, I think: protection from the elements and from predators. I do admire your tolerance for those bats, but if they ever get to be too much, you can find plans for bat houses on the web that you can probably adapt for the needs of your particular species, after consulting with British ecologists. (The idea is to erect a substitute maternal colony space as close to their present quarters as possible, and seal off every entrance to the house over winter, before they return.) And it sounds like you did just the right thing with those bees. Yep, this is what country living is all about. People who don’t like living with wildlife should stay in the city.

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      1. I like those houses that fill up with honeycomb between the walls–don’t want one myself, though…

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        1. Me too. Our former neighbor Margaret’s derelect house is one of those. Our new neighbor Paula is adamant that we shouldn’t tear it down, despite the fact that it fills the view out their living room window.

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  5. We’re having our annual crickets in the house jamboree, too, plus the occasional five-lined skink!

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  6. Eek. It’s enough to make me glad I’m hard-of-hearing. The biggest visitor I’ve had was last year’s frog, and he didn’t stick around for long. (I’m almost sorry about that — he might have caught flies — but even those aren’t a major hazard for me.

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    1. I didn’t remember the post, but reading it seems familiar.

      And just now, I came back from my weekly hike to find a large grasshopper bouncing around the kitchen. Summarily evicted, though I did get such photos as I could without macro capability. (My camera is half-broken — the “wheel buttons” are dead.)

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      1. I used to have hippie friends who lived in fear of grasshoppers entering their kitchens, but that was a different kind of grass and a different kind of freeloading visitor.

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        1. <snicker!> The thing I found amusing about this guy was that he was big enough that when he jumped onto the stove front, he made an audible “thunk”. (And despite his size, clung to the vertical enamel surface!)

          Lucky for him that my cat is old, and never learned how to hunt in the first place — she wandered over when he landed in a corner, but just to see what was up. (And probably as much because I was following him around!)

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          1. Cats are fun when they’re old. At the place I was visiting last night, there was this old tabby who kept slipping outside to eat grass, as if it were some secret addiction.

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