Maxwell Bug: Good to the last dot!

I’ve mentioned that my brother only recently realized we’d been little white trash kids which is funny because he’s pretty much a genius but one who is a little slow on the uptake sometimes.

When we were tiny, our mom introduced us to Maxwell bugs; they were ubiquitous in the summer and fall and insects are always a good diversion for small children so, really, why wouldn’t she have shown us these little marvels? Happily, they’re friendly, like roly-polies, and you can carry them around in your pockets as pets. Lucky bugs.

At some point during my high school career, I found out that Maxwell bugs are really called box elder bugs. I asked my mom why she told us they were called Maxwell bugs and she said it was because she and her brother used to catch them, as kids do, and put them in coffee cans. Maxwell House coffee cans, to be precise. They became Maxwell bugs because that’s how the minds of children work.

In 2010, a mommy Maxwell bug and a Daddy Maxwell bug met in the millet and had some fun.

In 2010, a mommy Maxwell bug and a Daddy Maxwell bug met in the millet and had some fun.

The following spring, there were a lot of babies.I'm assuming these are juvenile Maxwell bugs because there were all over the place and there were always two or three grown up Maxwell bugs shepherding them around. It was very fascinating.

The following spring, there were a lot of babies.
I’m assuming these are juvenile Maxwell bugs because there were all over the place and there were always two or three grown up Maxwell bugs shepherding them around. It was very fascinating.

I assumed Chris, Noelle, and Bedot all learned the same lesson at some point. Apparently, Chris didn’t learn this as quickly as the rest of us, a fact I discovered when we discussed some of the different crawlies in the area — we have wind scorpions! I have never seen one in person but Chris says they usually come out late at night and run around garage floors so it makes sense I don’t know them since I don’t have a garage and I’m not outside late at night. Anyway, he smugly mentioned, “Did you know that Maxwell bugs are really called box elder bugs?”

I said, “Yes,” and he was crestfallen.

“You did? When did you find out?”

“High school. When did you find out?”

“Last year”

Using my Kind Voice, I asked, “Oh? Really? Um…how?

Turns out, he learned when he was telling his own kids about them and nothing came up when he did a Google Image search for “Maxwell bug.” (no longer true thanks to this post, by the way) He couldn’t let it go and started looking for pictures of local insects. Finally, on a pest control site, he found what he was looking for: A Maxwell bug. Only, it was called a box elder bug. He was very excited by his discovery and told his kids that the mystery had been solved. You can imagine how deeply they cared (not at all) so I think that’s why I was the next in line to hear this amazing news – I (usually) do care about his findings. Now I wish I’d have feigned ignorance so he could have had a glowing moment of bug-naming pride.


Filed under My Dearly Beloveds

7 responses to “Maxwell Bug: Good to the last dot!

  1. Your poor brother!! Did you explain the Maxwell part to him? I don’t think parents realize that what they say is the TRUTH. My future father in law was just telling me how his parents (he was adopted) used to tell him that he was born in a cabbage patch. (I’m assuming in a weird attempt to avoid the truth of his adoption for a while??) In any case, when he was in grade school, they were going around the classroom asking where everyone was born, so of course, he answered, “A cabbage patch.” To which the teachers thought he was being a wise ass and sent him to the principal. His parents apologized to the school and let them know that he really believed he was from the cabbage patch.

    • BWahahaha!! Ohmigosh, had I been the teacher, I”d have had the worst time keeping a straight face.
      I did tell Chris that they were called Maxwell bugs after the coffee can. He wasn’t actually all that impressed with my knowledge. I think he was still bitter that I’d found out long before he had.

  2. I’m trying to think if we had any cute bug names when I was a kid….. nope! Just roaches. Ahh, Brooklyn….

    • Hahaha! We don’t really have roaches here. I mean, they exist but they’re not exactly ubiquitous. You have to work to get them to come to your house. You send out invitations and you promise lots of corners full of old food and paper bags and you send a limo to pick them up. It’s not easy.
      I had always thought those cockroach jokes were just jokes, myths, exaggerations. And then I moved to Seoul for a year and found out not only are the jokes not really jokes nor are they exaggerations or myths, but my skin is allergic to cockroach skin and droppings and whatever else is in the dust they leave behind (go figure! I’d never been exposed to the stuff prior to that year). Also, I knifed a roach with a steak knife and even as it languished upside down while I triumphantly waved it in the face of my roommate, the thing wriggled. It was all alive with a steak knife skewering it. Those things are tough. I have a lot of respect for them.

      • Growing up in Brooklyn, I had friends who lived in the projects, and they had roaches. You just couldn’t do anything about it. No matter how clean YOUR apartment was, if there were roaches in the building (there always were), then you had them in your apartment. And during sleepovers, you had to be careful, because roaches bite you if you don’t move. I’ve been bitten plenty, and it hurts like FUCK.

        Also, are you talking about “waterbugs” or “palmetto bugs”? They’re bigger, and I can see you stabbing one of those. Roaches are small though, and fast as hell. Doesn’t really matter… I hate them all.

        Why were you in Seoul?

        • That’s like bedbugs! I live in fear of those things! From what I understand, once they’re in the building, you’re hosed. That’s another reason I’m glad I live in a house and make all guests douse with Bed Bug B-Gone before they enter (not really,but I think about it all the time)
          Oh, geez, I have not been bitten by a roach. At least, I don’t think I have been.
          No, these were cockroaches in our little apt in Seoul. They ranged from the size of my pinky nail to the size of my entire thumb. They can get big. I hear they get huge the closer you are to the equator, but that’s the case with most bugs. Especially in Texas. Because everything is bigger in Texas.
          But anyway – I taught English for a year in Seoul. I freaking LOVED IT! I’d never even considered Korea a country before I went there and then I got all addicted to traveling and I’ll have to sell Gabe’s kidneys to fund my next jetsetting adventure.

          • He has two. Tell him to stop being such a fucking pansy and sack up!

            I hate roaches. You know when they bite you; it’ll wake you up if you’re sleeping. I used to get welts for weeks… but whatcha gonna do?

            But that’s awesome! (The teaching, not the roaches.) My sister in law wanted to teach English in China, but she didn’t make it into the program. I’m not sure why. Also, my aunt was Korean. She taught me how to use chop sticks. I remember going with her to the store, and being the only white girl there. It was cool though, because when you’re six or under, you really just want to stare at the seafood and smelly kim che.

            ….now I want to go to Korea, too.

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