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Many of my shops were located in the high dessert of Nevada so I have had my share of encounters with snakes, rodents, nasty biting red ants, scorpions and the like. But my most memorable experience with small visitors happened in my Woodland, Calif.-shop. And it was not a one-time experience.

It seems that the building that housed that shop was built right smack dab in line with a migration trail long used by a herd of Stenopelmatus fuscus, also known as Jerusalem crickets, potato bugs, and other unprintable names.

There is something hysterically amusing in seeing a grown man, a rough and tumble, jeans-wearing, tobacco-chewing, tool-using guy leaping up onto an assembly table in pure terror at the sight of a bug. OK, well more than one bug. For a couple of weeks every spring, these little devils would be parading across the shop floor in numbers. But still bugs and known to be harmless bugs at that.

But as anyone who has seen a potato bug will readily testify, these are the butt-ugliest creatures ever put on this earth. You don't even need to see one up close to see how ugly they are. They are known to bite but they have no venom and you gotta really work at it to get one to bite you. Not that anyone would ever want to get that close to one. Bad enough to have to watch them lumber across the floor from a safe perch atop a workbench.


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