I may have lived in Texas for nearly a third of a century, and definitely two-thirds of my life, but I’m constantly surprised. In fact, I think that’s what keeps bringing me back after I move elsewhere: well, that and the general state of the tech industry. Not everything is bigger in Texas, but the bugs…nobody’s going to argue that.
By way of example, while tromping through the Brazos River valley, the Czarina’s brother stops for a moment and comments idly “Hey, look. A walking stick.” Naturally, I assumed that he was talking about walking stick insects, members of the insect order Phasmida: I was familiar with them, but hadn’t seen one in years. The Czarina felt the same way, and she chirped about how she hadn’t seen any on the ranch since she was a little girl. That’s when she picked up a branch and brandished this monster.
This, friends, is Megaphasma denticrus, generally held as the longest insect in North America. Ol’ Truzenzuzex here may not hold the record, but he’s definitely big enough, particularly for the phobic. Give the Czarina a few days, though, and she’d probably make a brace, bit, and saddle out of silver wire and bits of felt.
From what the Czarina and her family informed me, the ranch had quite the population of these walking sticks in the early Seventies, and then they simply disappeared. One suspicion was the use of pesticides on local farmland that may have culled them back, or just simply that our ridiculously mild winter gave them an added impetus to emerge and spread. All I could tell you for sure was that we found them all over the place, and this was the first time in a decade I’d seen any at all. They were getting even bigger: we came back to the ranch house to find Truzenzuzex’s girlfriend N’Grath waiting for us.
Boy, it’s a good thing that I like most insects. I don’t want to look for a rolled-up magazine or newspaper big enough to handle this beast.