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Issue link: http://loumag.epubxp.com/i/718671
Carpenter Bees ANIMAL ENCOUNTER Daniel jammed the M-80 into the fat frog's mouth and lit it with a Zippo he'd stolen from his dad. e frog, oblivious that his fuse was dwindling, sat on the sidewalk as the five of us scattered into the cul-de-sac. It was 1993, the year Beavis and Butt-Head premiered on MTV. We watched every day after school. We were in third grade. I don't know where he got the firecracker. Or the frog. But I remember the explosion echoing against vinyl siding. We examined the blast site. "Look," Camer- on said. He was several yards away, holding a single frog leg. I'm sure I forced myself to laugh like Butt-Head. e neighborhood was dusk-quiet on my walk home. I began to cry. I didn't become a crusader for animal rights after that day, but I did start releasing every bug I found in the house. Still do. And my wife yells "Spider!" a lot. I don't want to kill. Respect for all life, kumbaya. Seven years ago, I was grilling on the staircase landing of my second-story screened-in porch. My wife and I had just moved into our first home, in Crescent Hill, and my body was still acclimating to the chronic, mortgage-in- duced anxiety deep in my chest. I surveyed my backyard, took a drink of beer. Tasted like adulthood. Tasted good. And then there, beneath one of the wooden spindles, was a mound of sawdust. Termites? Bri went to Google. Car- penter bees, which look like an all-black bumblebee that binges on dead or untreated wood and deposits larvae. I shined a flashlight on the underside of the porch. More holes than a golf course. I was soon down a deep internet rabbit hole, reading thread after thread about carpenter bees. e consensus: Don't kill these important pollinators! Other than that, as far as I could tell, the carpenter bee's sole purpose was to burrow inch-diameter, perfect-circle tunnels into my confidence as a homeowner. I pictured my house imploding. (In fairness to the carpenter bee: You don't really need to worry about stings and, in my case at least, the damage was minimal.) My research turned up a few humane suggestions: erect a "decoy wooden structure," make a fake wasp nest "out of craft paper and string," paint. I caulked the holes, applied a coat of white. at seemed to do the trick. en one day I was doing some yard work beneath the porch when something caught my eye: a carpenter bee wriggling out of a hole. In the new paint. He buzzed around my head, moseyed back into the hole, around my head, into the hole. In a pile of our daughter's toys was the paddle ball game I like to play at the beach. I unzipped the case, unsheathed a wooden paddle. I was ready the next time the bee exited his new home. I hit the thing so hard that it rocketed into the side of my neighbor's house. It sounded like an M-80 exploding. — Josh Moss