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The Earwig’s Tail

Articles: The Earwig’s Tail

When I was a child in Southern California in the 1930s, I spent my summers at my grandparents' Victorian home in Los Angeles. Large trees, perennial borders, and a rose garden surrounded my playground.

My grandfather was a great teaser. One day, while walking with me in the garden, he leaned over to smell some flowers. Then he put his hand on my ear and warned me, "Look at this earwig I found in your ear!"

I was horrified and started to cry. When I told my grandmother, she was angry with him. He calmed me and admitted he had put it there. I was only six at the time.

That day was etched in my mind for years. When I started my first garden, I learned a lot about earwigs (Forficula auricularia). I've detested them all my life; when I see one between the petals of a rose, I waste no time dispatching it.

When I heard of this book, I could hardly wait to get my hands on it. Little did I know that I would spend hours laughing aloud at the short essays devoted to a "modern bestiary," created by the May Berenbaum, a professor of entomology at the University of Illinois. Of the twenty-four creatures discussed here, about half have appeared in my garden at one time or another.

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