I used to love chasing butterflies when I was a little kid in Oregon. They were usually very small, yellow, maybe they were actually moths. I thought they were so pretty. In Guam, I don’t need to chase butterflies because they seem to be everywhere and will land on me if I’m still. I had never seen black butterflies until I moved here. It sort of feels magical when you walk through an area that hasn’t has been walked through in awhile, and tons of butterflies flutter around you.
Maybe it’s the humidity, I don’t know, but all bugs in Guam seem bigger than I’ve ever seen when I lived in Oregon! There are some pretty cool ones too, like the Rhino Beetle, that I’ve never seen before. Then there are those bugs that I have seen before, only much smaller versions than the ones I see on Guam. For some reason grasshoppers like to congregate on or around my door and they are horrible at flying. As soon as I pass them they freak out, jump into the air, and fly in circles. Sometimes I’m unaware of them and they land on my clothes, get into my apartment and spazz out once inside. Peter always tries to protect me from them by shielding me as I walk past, but sometimes they fly in circles and we both run off screaming. There are also a lot of Praying Mantises, which I’m sure are around to eat all the grasshoppers. They’re so aware of their surroundings, whenever we pass by they turn their heads and watch us go. Once Peter caught a praying mantis and a grasshopper and put them in a jar together. It was only a few minutes when the mantis murdered the grasshopper and ate it. I was disgusted and Peter was intrigued (boys!). But the strangest one that I’ve never seen until I came here is the stick bug. There are also these white slugs that I saw during my Tagu’an Point walk and occasionally see around my home. They almost looked like they glowed in the dark!
One day as I was walking downstairs to the laundry room of my building, I noticed this small, black thing wedged in a crevice between a door and a wall. As I approached it I immediately recognized what it was by its hind legs. A coconut rhinoceros beetle! Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the negative impact they’ve had on the island. Here is a story about the devastation from Pacific Daily News. According to the article, trees along the beach in Tumon have been chopped down due to damage by the beetle. One of the most beautiful things about the beaches are that they are lined with coconut trees, so I was saddened when I went to Ypao Beach and saw stumps where trees once flourished. As of now, the beetle has spread to all villages on Guam. There are different ideas about how to get rid of the pests, but I’m not sure if any of them are working. It’s surprising that these beetles are able to cause any damage at all because they look drunk and uncoordinated when they fly.
When Peter came back home from work, I told him what I found. I know that he’s been wanting to catch one so he was really happy. Without a second thought, Peter scooped it up into his hands and took him upstairs. He then tied a rope around the beetle and put him in a pot of dirt. The beetle began digging its way deep into the pot and stayed there. We considered killing it because that’s what you’re supposed to do, but it felt wrong. It’s not just like a bug you can squash with your foot. It’s thick and its signature rhino horn on top of its head is amazing! Unfortunately, I’ve been seeing a lot of these lately and I’m hoping that it’s not a sign that they are taking over. Let’s just hope that Guam is able to get this problem under control.