Soy Beetles & Culture Shock

Though I’ve been back in Iowa for more than a week now, I’m still wrestling with culture shock. The rudest reminders that I’m no longer in sunny Califorian, but back in the Midwest, are the soy beetles.

These tiny critters first made their presence known around these parts in the fall of 2000. (I know this because they showed up the year Allen was a senior and our foreign exchange student, Adrian, lived with us.) The nasty little insects look like lady bugs, though they’re more orange than red and stinkier than all get out. They don’t do any harm, but they don’t do any good either.

Most of the year they stay outdoors, until the farmers harvest the soybeans and obliterate the soy beetles’ summer homes. The homeless, stinky bugs stay in the fields, shivering and immobile, as long as the weather stays cold. But give ‘em a sunny day to warm up their innards, and they become heat-seeking missiles, swarming the southern walls of every house on the outskirts of town, including ours.

But when the sun goes down and the temperature plummets, the bugs drop to the ground in small, orange drifts. The orange drift on the threshold of our kitchen door was my rude, culture shock reminder.

At the sight, I sprang into action, grabbing the broom and sweeping away the nasty proof of my return from paradise. Every sunny day, I sweep another drift away, humming while I work…I’m California dreaming on an autumn day.


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