Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- JUNE BUG

What buzzes into southern Appalachia in the month of June, in copious numbers? Yep. The JUNE BUG.

A JUNE BUG is a beetle that wears a shimmery green armor on its back. It's fairly large unless you compare it with an American cockroach (we called them water bugs in Kentucky). They look almost exactly like what we call a Japanese beetle now. I'm not sure if it's the same variety. I think the Japanese version is much smaller than our JUNE BUG.

The JUNE BUGs uniqueness doesn't end with its size or attractive shiny green armor. For bored kids just out of school for the year, the JUNE BUG held another quality that provided much entertainment.

Fortunately, they were easy to catch. Then you needed a friend, sibling, or mother to help you do the next step.

A JUNE BUG with a string tied to its leg
While one person holds the JUNE BUG upside down (not simple to do), the other person ties a thread onto one of the JUNE BUG's hind legs. This person had to be careful because the wriggly JUNE BUG wasn't thrilled about the process and would dig its claw-like appendages into your skin.

Once the string was firmly attached, you wrapped the end of the long string around your finger and let the JUNE BUG fly away. It couldn't fly far because it was attached to the string.

The JUNE BUG would fly back and forth, up and down, and all around trying to break free of the string.

The kids giggled as they ducked out of the way. It was fun to watch, but they didn't want it to get on them. The JUNE BUG sang a song that sounded a bit like a Jews Harp as it flew. That was my favorite part.

Eventually, the string would loosen enough for the JUNE BUG to fly away. If it was lucky. Now, I look back and think how mean we were with those poor JUNE BUGS. At least we weren't as deadly as with the lightning bugs.

Uncle Junior & brother Larry.
They also like to play with snakes.
I remember well my brother playing with the JUNE BUGS for hours at a time in our front yard. Sometimes, my youngest uncle, Junior, would join in the fun. I always thought it was funny because our nickname for Junior was JUNE BUG.

Did you ever torture ... uh ... play with JUNE BUGS when you were a kid? Do you have a funny story about them?


Appalachian Word of the Week - JUNE BUG (Click to Tweet)

Did you ever fly a JUNE BUG? (Click to Tweet)

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