The Tale of Alfred & Alma

Last month I blogged about the butterfly domes my sister Michelle made for our wedding in October. Since then I’ve created an image for some Insect Shoppe promotional materials and I asked Michelle to retell me the story of Alfred & Alma’s namesakes so that I could share that with you today as well. Plus I just love hearing it myself. It’s a beetle love (and death) story and it makes my heart gooey.

As told to me by Michelle Johnston…

As long as I had worked at Evolution, I had wanted a rhinocerous beetle. A living one. So one Christmas a few years back my fiancé Kevin got sneaky and purchased one from my then-employer. We named our rhino beetle Alfred after Kevin’s favorite director, Alfred Hitchock. Alfred was a kindly gentleman and could be kept in a tank with other insects, to no one’s detriment. Before getting Alfred, I had a few darkling beetles, but only one living at that time, a female. I hadn’t named her, which is uncommon for me, but nothing seemed to strike me. I believe that by not naming a beetle they feel unloved and, as a result, die sooner. It’s true too; other people that have owned beetles are shocked at the lifespan of my pets. I say it’s because I love them.

I put the nameless darkling beetle in the tank, so that Alfred would have a friend, and decided that though they were very different, they should marry. So we named her Alma after Hitchock’s wife. Alfred spent his first 3 months mostly under the dirt sleeping but I would dig him out daily and hold him. Finally, when the weather turned warmer he emerged from the earth and we found he loved crawling up branches and hanging from the top of the terrarium to stare at our cat. At the same time Alma was beginning to lose some of her limbs — this is common for beetles — she lost several tarsi and eventually a leg, but she still managed to roam around with Alfred and kept him company. That May Alfred passed away and Alma followed in his death just a few days later. I named the shop Alfred & Alma’s Insect Shoppe because they were my favorite insects. I was pretty devastated when Alfred died. They were so sweet and happy together and they were a tribute to my love, Kevin, and to his love for film. Hitchock and his own Alma were seriously in love and did everything together. She was the backbone of everything he did (so Kevin tells me). Alfred & Alma — director and wife, beetle and wife — is both a tribute and symbol of our own relationship, in bug form.

Details. Click to view larger. This is the scale I actually worked at.

This was my first time “painting” in Photoshop and I loved it. I’m a pretty impatient paint mixer, so the ease of this has probably ruined me for good.

If you like lookin’ at bugs, follow Alfred & Alma’s Insect Shoppe on Facebook and Twitter.


3 thoughts on “The Tale of Alfred & Alma

  1. thelma. alma. they’re both cool ladies. thanks for readin’! it’s a sweet little story. i like listening to michelle talk about her bugs. she loves and understands them such surprisingly ways.

  2. How very cool to know the story behind the “shop” name! You are a very artistic, talented woman, as is my future daughter in law!

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