If you just woke up from a yearlong coma and turned promptly to this column, let me sum things up as gently as I can.
A lot of people are wondering what to do if an Asian murder hornet gets trapped in their mandatory face mask.
If you are not waking up from a coma, you might be asking:
"Asian murder hornets?"
Or, more likely:
"Hold on, you're still talking about Asian murder hornets? That was so last week. We've all moved on. Now we're freaking out about the black hole they discovered near Earth."
True. But since not everyone is a keen student of internet culture — meaning they don't scroll through Twitter for four hours a day with a blank expression that occasionally curdles into disgust or manifests a fleeting flicker of amusement — let me explain murder hornets.
They are big, ugly bugs from Japan, and they have big pincers that decapitate honeybees. Everyone loves honeybees in principle, because they are industrious and make honey and probably aren't affected by the lockdown. #stayhive #beesafe
The murder hornets have reached America, as these things always do. They probably hitched a ride on a container ship, knowing there was a warrant out for them in Japan. Now they are here, and the other hornets, like the charity hornets or good Samaritan hornets, probably are furious about the bad publicity.
If you are rolling your eyes that Ol' Mister Newspaper Dude is talkin' about them murder hornets like they were still a thing, I agree. It's over! I was done with murder hornets the moment I heard about them, and, frankly, when I hear "murder hornets," I think: "That's a good suggestion."
No, we must concentrate on positive news. There are many bugs that have criminal tendencies that are not murderous, and I think as the year goes forward, we'll want to concentrate on them. They include:
Truancy beetles. These are bugs that are supposed to be somewhere but instead are somewhere else. It is difficult to identify them, because no one knows where beetles are supposed to be in the first place. I mean, we know where they're not supposed to be — in the ice cream, down your pants — but even that's a judgment call. (Note: "Truancy beetles" were suggested by my daughter, who will accuse me of theft if I do not credit her, and she would be correct.)
Zipper-merging mantises. These are definitely from out-of-state.
Brazilian coughing spiders. These are the worst. They look like they are wearing tiny masks, but they actually are not. Etymologists theorize that natural selection favored the spiders that had the white splotch over their face, because prey would run away if there was no mask, and predators would likewise squash them. The mask allows them to get closer and shoot their venom from 5 feet.
The good news: They can't hit you from 6 feet, so you're probably OK if they are socially responsible spiders.
Expense-account padding ants. They claim 60 yards in mileage to get that leaf fragment, but truth be told, it was more like 50, and that included getting out of the anthill in the first place.
Second-degree assault plea bargained down to disorderly conduct emerald ash borers. Hated as they are, you know there's some lawyer out there who would take their case. Every insect deserves justice! Yeah, tell it to the stumps on my boulevard, shyster.
Grand Theft Auto butterflies. Studies show that the majority of them started as joy-riding caterpillars that were not reformed by their experience with the juvenile judicial system.
Noise-ordinance-violating cicadas. Speaks for itself. Shrieks, really.
Entering the intersection on yellow June bugs. Usually cited for FAWI, or flying around while intoxicated, because that's the only explanation for their idiotic trajectories.
Usury law mosquitoes. These bloodsuckers charge up to 40% interest for a loan, and because they live only a short time, it's compounded hourly.
Are there any law-abiding insects out there? Why, yes. Paroled centipedes, which tend to behave because they are wearing 50 ankle bracelets, and ladybugs. Everyone likes ladybugs, and they return the favor. The bad news? Murder hornets probably go through them like sunflower seeds.
"What about that black hole you mentioned?" you ask. "The one they discovered. The one that's closer than any other. Should we be worried about that?"
Only if it's full of murder bunnies. And while I think that's even a bit much for 2020, the year is still young.