The BioGeek Memoirs: June Bug

In 2010 my school district sent me to Baltimore, Maryland for a couple of weeks to get the training for an upcoming course that the district was offering. It was great! I met a lot of new friends, got the training that I needed, ate yummy food, and went to Washington, D.C. for the weekend. Okay, the National Mall is a little overwhelming. I only had the one day to visit as many sites as I could. The Vietnam Memorial. The World War II Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Monument (hey… the White House is right over to the right…). The National Archives. The Smithsonian Museum. THE SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM!!!

You know that I had to go into the Smithsonian.

I didn’t have a lot of time once I got into the museum, but they had an exhibit about Charles Darwin and the Evolution of Evolution. Wow. There was no way this little BioGeek and teacher of biology was going to miss that! We only had an hour but of course I raced through the exhibit getting what I could out of it and then into the giftshop for a couple of mementos.

I bought a fossil, this book, and the funny little necklace that you see on the book. The dark blob at the top of the photo is Mateo (AKA the CoalBear) coming in to grab the necklace.

Let’s take a closer look at the necklace that I had to buy as soon as I saw it.

It was a June bug!!

Oh, my goodness. I just loved June bugs when I was a kid. We would find them clinging to the side of the big elm tree in the backyard. Bright, iridescent green, big and slow moving, they were easy for us to catch and haul around. We used to tie a thread around their bodies and let them fly in a circle around us. You could sport them on your shirt as shiny and unique jewelry. They were quite the find when I was a little kid.

I don’t think that my parents were as excited about the June bugs as we were. The larvae are major pests as they mature in the ground, chomping down on any roots or organic materials that they can get their little mouthparts onto and damaging the lawn. Then there were the adult beetles. Um… my mother grew this big patch of boysenberry bushes that we harvested fruit from all summer. She would send us out with little pails to pick (and eat) the berries that she turned into endless jars of jam and countless cobblers. She loved her berries. So did the June bugs. I kind of think that’s why we could always find one in our yard on hot June days.

Mateo: June bugs are good for kitties to play with, too!

In her later years my mom grew a big patch of berries along the fence of her yard. Instead of June beetles she battled gophers in her yard; the gophers tunneled through the yard and build a minor mountain under the spreading canes of the berry plants. My eldest son became a berry picker himself and took glee in chasing the gophers with my mom, wielding a garden hose in battle as the gophers practically laughed at them. She still managed to produce several cases of berry jam each summer, but I’m pretty sure that she would have swapped the gophers for June bugs in a heartbeat.

Today I live in Colorado and there isn’t a June bug in sight. It gets too cold here in the winter to grow boysenberries and I have to resort to buying blackberries at the summer fruit stands. I still have that cobbler recipe that my mom used (it came from a flour bag in the 50’s), and every year I make blackberry cobbler and think that maybe I should make some jam, too.

Why did I have to buy the June bug necklace? After all, it has been never worn, but is still treasured.

Because the second I saw it that hot June day in Washington, D.C. I was instantly transported back to my childhood, picking boysenberries, covered in scratches and berry juice, playing with June bugs in the summer heat of a Southern California day.

Good times!

p.s. Do you feel the urge to make your own berry cobbler? I blogged about it here.

Author: Midnight Knitter

I weave, knit and read in Aurora, Colorado where my garden lives. I have 2 sons, a knitting daughter-in-law, a grandson and two exceptionally spoiled kittens. In 2014 I was diagnosed with a serious rare autoimmune disease called systemic sclerosis along with Sjogren's Disease and fibromyalgia.

24 thoughts on “The BioGeek Memoirs: June Bug”

  1. I don’t recall any bugs in my childhood , I think I was more interested in other animals 😉 I would go and check livestock when there was some around … or trees .
    Thanks for sharing these sweet memories 🙂 I think you did well to buy the necklace.

  2. It’s always interesting what carries us back to our childhood. I’m glad you have that Smithsonian treasure to remind you of such a joyous time. I’ve never baked a cobbler, but I have certainly enjoyed eating them over the years.

    As an aside, both of my boys were born in June, three years and two weeks apart. I often refer to them as “my June bugs.”

  3. Mateo and the June bug reminded me of a cat I used to have named Alexander. He was a big kitty. We took him in the back yard one evening, I don’t remember why, and over by the light was a June bug. It was walking toward Alex and that big cat began backing up and backing up and suddenly whirled and ran. No playing with bugs for Big Al.

    1. Poor Alexander! Intimidated by a June bug. I had a big yellow cat once that was afraid of the guinea pig. The pig would scurry towards him and that cat just didn’t know what to do so he always ran.

  4. I adore June Bugs as well. It’s not summer until you see one. And I’m glad you had a fun trip. I still want to visit DC. We were going March 2020 but the weekend we planned was the weekend the Covid outbreak happened. For obvious reasons we postponed. Hopefully soon we can go.

    1. June bugs really are one of the best parts of summer. I hope that you get your trip to DC eventually; it really was so inspiring and great to see all the memorials and historic sites; I saw the Declaration of Independence! How cool was that? I could use a whole week there to be honest. I really regret that I wasn’t able to make it into the art museum.

    1. No June bugs?!!! We also have cicadas buzzing in the trees as summer music. Having grown up on Boysenberries I didn’t have a clue that they were now hard to get. The closest thing I can find in the nursery is blackberry, but they aren’t as nice and sweet as what I was raised on. They would be hard to grow in my yard anyway because…squirrels!!

  5. I don’t recall ever seeing June bugs, but I’m in Northern California so the weather patterns (and wildlife) are different. Berry cobbler isn’t one of my family’s usual desserts—for us it was apricot cobbler. Yum. I’m going to have to make one this summer when apricots are in season again.

    1. We were pretty far south; I grew up in San Bernardino. I don’t remember seeing June bugs once we moved down to the San Diego area and they certainly aren’t here in the Denver area. They must be pretty specific in their environmental niche. When I make the cobbler with fresh berries, I rinse everything, pack the fruit into a two cup glass measuring container, pour on the sugar and then add water to the 2 cup mark. That mixture then gets poured onto the top of the dough to bake. I think that apricots would taste great!

      1. Oh, that sounds amazing! The apricot cobbler we make is inverted to yours: the fruit gets layered on the bottom of a baking dish, then sugar and almond extract is sprinkled on top, and then spoonfuls of the dough is dropped on top.

  6. The June bug was always a summer feature when we were kids in SoCal. In the evening they’d be on the back patio heading for the lights. A fond memory as we would swat them away.
    And then, one year, we realized they weren’t around any more. Still live in SoCal and haven’t seen one in a number of years.
    There’s a reason you bought the necklace; keep the idea of June bugs alive.
    Thanks for the memory.

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