About a week ago, maybe more, I noticed a gaggle of red bugs on one of the soybean plants. Maybe I wrote about it, I can't remember now. There were probably about fifty of them, the size and color of ladybugs, but differently shaped. They were mostly on the beans, not so much on the leaves. I couldn't find anything resembling them when I searched the Internet bug-identification sites.
I kept an eye on them all day and decided to leave them be, since they didn't seem to be eating the beans or the leaves. I know there are good bugs and bad bugs -- despite the fact that all bugs are creepy -- and maybe they're hanging out there because they like to eat other bugs that are eating the plant.
Still, they seriously creeped me out, all of them just sitting there. What were they waiting for? Even though they weren't moving around much, their little legs and antennae twitched. I just shuddered even as I typed that last sentence.
Days and days go by, they're still there. A couple times they moved en masse to a different part of the plant. Every once in a while I spot one brave little red bug separate from the herd, even as far away as the next plant, but mostly they're huddling together. It has rained on and off for several days, but they don't seem to be affected.
Then one day I see that one of them is larger and grey. Did she just appear, or did I just now notice her? And where did she come from? Was she, until that day, small and red, and she underwent a metamorphosis? She is always in the center of the cluster. Maybe she's the queen. Do little red bugs have queens?
Yesterday I noticed a bunch of them on one of the green tomatoes, the biggest one, the first to appear. The tomato plant is several feet away and on the other side of a large tree from the soybeans. This is a good sign, that they're hanging out on the tomato. It convinces me that they're eating bad bugs, probably aphids. Anything that eats aphids gets amnesty in the garden.
But when I went to check on them today, from afar the tomato they were hanging out on looked mottled with black, and my heart sank. I thought they had eaten it, or shit all over it, or somehow destroyed it. But, instead, the creepy but cute little red bugs have morphed into big, black, extra-creepy, not-at-all-cute bugs. The ones on the soybean plant have done the same thing.
I'm going to have nightmares tonight for sure.