The time I scared people with a bug at a gas station

Maybe this (creeping out random strangers in a public location) is a sign that my love of bugs has gone a little too far.

I was filling up my gas tank at Perry’s Store in Stockton Springs when a felt something hit my sandaled foot, so naturally, I looked down. Upon seeing something big, dark and many-legged crawling on the top of my foot, I panicked, let out an involuntary “Yip!” and shook my foot vigorously. During that split second, my thoughts were something like: “Gah! That’s a giant spider.”

My sudden movement and muted cry caught the attention of a man filling up his tank on the other side of the fuel island. I grinned sheepishly at him, knowing I probably looked ridiculous, then looked back down to where (not a spider but) a large beetle was crawling around on the pavement.

So naturally, I picked it up. GasStationBug0716-1 For some reason, I find some insects creepy, while other bugs, I just want to hug. (Of course, I can’t hug them because they’re too small. It’s something I’ve come to accept.)

And as far as I can tell, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Spiders give me goosebumps. I’m also repelled by ants. But fuzzy moths and alien-like beetles? I think they’re cute.

It’s certainly not logical. This particular beetle had some chompers on him. And I actually did a little research (after the fact) and I think this is a species of the Long-Horned Beetle family — possibly a Northeastern Pine Sawyer? (Thank you, Chris from Twitter for that link and suggestion!) And some of those beetles can and will bite.

So I probably shouldn’t have picked it up… but the deed is done. Fortunately, it didn’t bite me (…which I think is really big of the beetle, since I had just sent it flying with the shake of my foot and all). GasStationBug0716-3 As my tank filled up with gas, I cradled the beetle in my hand and held it close to my face, inspecting it. I’d never seen a beetle with such long antennae before. It also had interesting feet that tickled my skin as the beetle started to crawl up my arm. As it continued to climb my arm, I retrieved a camera from my car and started snapping photos of it the best I could, having only one hand to operate the camera.

By that time, not only was the man fueling up his truck staring at me, a man walking across the parking lot paused, and the convenience store clerk had emerged from the store. “What’d you find?” she yelled across the parking lot.

“Um..” I started walking toward the woman, not wanting to shout “A BEETLE!”

“You probably won’t like it…” I warned her as I approached her, then held out my arm, which the beetle was climbing with ease, its long antennas leading the way.

In reply, she said something along the lines of “Oh. How… interesting.” I can’t remember exactly because I was too busy trying to transfer the beetle from my bicep to my hand before it scampered into my shirt.

Not wanting to creep her out any more than necessary, I mumbled some sort of embarrassed agreement and walked past her to a nearby field and released the bug on a boulder, where it blended in quite nicely. GasStationBug0716-2 By the time I returned to my car, I was starting to realize how silly I must have looked, playing with a beetle outside a convenience store. But to be honest, I don’t care. It’s good to take joy in the small things in life, and for me, that just happens to include beetles with really long antennas.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at