Joe Phillips

As a boy some summer afternoons were spent doing nothing constructively.

One activity was looking for cicada shells.

When the larva emerges into an adult it leaves its former shell attached to the bark of a tree.

The shedding only takes a few minutes and with luck it can be observed.

The only souvenir is the unusable but collectible shell, which I kept in a Prince Albert can.

If I had been hip to the joys of fried cicada the searches might have started earlier.

You can't walk in the yard without kicking up a cloud of grasshoppers these days. They don't hurt much but are of no practical use.

“Snake doctors,” according to folk legend, indicate that a snake is nearby.

I don't know where that legend came from but I've seen snakes without them around and have seen snake doctors with no snake. Still, it is a comfort, sort of, to see them.

They are actually dragon flies because with their large eyes and elongated body they look something like a fictional dragon.

Another name for them, “mosquito hawk,” is appropriate since they feed on mosquitoes, sand gnats and other small insects. You find them around lakes and streams.

When still their large wings are translucent and beautiful.

“Dragon flies” have been on the earth in their unchanged form for millions of years.

I didn't see a “June bug” all summer, which is probably because they mostly fly at night.

They are the bane of gardeners under another name, “Japanese beetles.”

You see their larva just under the grass living on the roots of your lawn. They are fat, white little grubs before becoming an adult.

They are green, clumsy fliers, flying into things, attracted to lights at night.

The only constructive use for a June bug is idle entertainment.

If you can catch one have a four-foot-long length of sewing thread ready. Tie a loop in the end of the thread and slip the loop over a back leg and gently pull it tight.

The bug will try to fly away but being attached to the thread he just flies in circles.

It's entertaining for awhile.

Crayfish, crawfish, crawdads are not bugs but resemble a little bitty lobster. They are found in streams of fresh water.

Boys trying to dam up a small creek used to find them between and under rocks.

Crayfish in stores and restaurants are farmed commercially and larger than their cousins found in streams. You could eat them if you can find enough of them.

Or use them for bait and go fishing.

Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at