Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Have Bugs, Will Travel






A few years ago, I wrote a book about earthworms and I brought worms with me on the book tour. This was easier than you might think; they lived in a little plastic container filled with dirt and seemed very content to ride around in my carry-on.  They even made it through airport security without a hitch. (I called the airline before I traveled with them to ask if there was any prohibition against bringing live worms on a plane.  After a long pause, the guy said, "Are they, like--man-eating worms?" He thought they would be fine, and they were.)

So the worms were nice.  People liked them.  I got them out at every event and dropped them into audience members' outstretched hands.   Then I'd take the worm back and give them a little hand wipe in a foil packet. It was a nice touch, I thought--a little bit of extra customer service.

Naturally, people assumed I'd bring bugs with me on the Wicked Bugs tour as well.  This was not so easy.  I tried to imagine myself boarding airplanes with live black widows, bed bugs, and scorpions. I wasn't sure how I'd keep them alive (well, I guess I know how I would have kept the bed bugs alive) and I didn't think bookstore audiences would be so happy to see them.

Instead, I contacted a freelance entomologist whose company, God of Insects, supplies bugs for photo shoots, movies, and television shows. I sent them my species list, and they sent me a box of bugs.  Dead bugs.

So far, I've had no trouble getting them through airport security, and there's no need for the little foil-wrapped hand wipes.  That alone should be reason enough for you to come out to my event on October 21, but if you need an extra incentive, I promise any number of spine-tingling tales, just in time for Halloween, of bugs gone bad.  I hope to see you there.

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