Bug City

Check up, tighten up, button up–things are looking up.  Today we worked on a number of “odds and ends” projects needing completion before flight:  verifying the shield thresholds, repairing the small thermometers that help us monitor our temperature in flight, and planning our detailed observation schedule for flight.  Launch weather is still bad; TIGRE is taking cat naps in the meantime.

The rest of us are trying to figure out when Alice Springs turned into Bug City.  The flies we were familiar with, but they stay mainly outside.  In the past weeks, we’ve seen a remarkable profusion of grasshoppers in a wide variety of sizes and colors–yellow and black, green, orange…  This week it turned a bit more creepy.  I’ve seen no fewer than three fist-sized (!!!) spiders in and around the hangar.  The first Jane thought was an April Fool’s joke from another group–until it started moving!  For your sake and mine I’m not posting the pictures.  Today–perhaps due to the rain–we were suddenly overtaken by some nasty hybrid of grasshopper, cricket, and roach.  Every box with a quarter inch of space under it in the high bay had a solid swarm of them underneath.  Given how clean things were when we moved in, it’s been quite the shock!  We swept as many outside as we could.  Still, I finished the day working on my computer as the bugs jumped over and around me.  The subtle crawly noises as they crept up the walls was particularly insidious.

Much more of this and I’ll end up in the bughouse myself.


4 responses to “Bug City

  1. I’ve lived through a couple bug plagues here. It’s awesome. What you’re going to need to watch out for now are snakes and redback spiders. Do not put your hands anyplace you can’t see – don’t pick stuff up without looking, don’t stick your hands under things, don’t grab the edge of chairs without checking under them. Seriously.

    Rain falls, grass grows, insects and mice eat grass, snakes eat insects and mice, hawks eat snakes and mice… this place explodes with temporary life for a few months after the rain, and some of it can kill you.

    On the upside, the snakes here have very small fangs, and generally can’t get through a decent pair of jeans. On the other upside, the town has some fantastic antivenom stashed away at the hospital. But it would do your teal well to get some training from someone on how to cope with a snakebite or a spider bite here; the wrapping technique is pretty straightforward but you ought to know how to do it right.

  2. …have you met the pretty green stinkbugs yet? I work nights, and when they breed in large numbers they rain down out of my office ceiling….

    • Thanks for the tips, Anne! The last few days have definitely been a wakeup call to be cautious. One of our team discovered the “stink” properties of the stinkbugs just yesterday!

  3. You could always play grasshopper bingo – there are so many different varieties of them here. Ten years ago we had a similar flood. We then had a plague of grasshoppers of a species previously unknown to science… got to love a place where the daily routine fits right into a National Geographic special.