Definition: Smelling like bugs. (Or, the actual noun for bug secretions…)

Cimicine is one of those wonderfully specific descriptive words that lends itself well to erudite-sounding insults.

The pie was cold, and the salad was warm. The meal was served with a weak, cimicine cocktail, which made me wish I’d kept my 16 dollars and instead just licked a bug.

For me, though, growing up in Australia, I’m reminded of those hot nights when you could literally smell the cimicine in the air—it smells a bit like coriander.

For the geographically discombobulated, a recap: Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, and as such, our Christmas falls smack bang in the middle of summer. Around this time, thousands of bugs take flight at night, on a mission.

We call them ‘Christmas beetles’.

I’m not sure where they want to go, but being attracted by light, they tend to end up piled around outside lights or windows. Some years, you can get hundreds and hundreds in an evening, piling themselves into squirming heaps on your veranda. If you have a swimming pool, they go for the pool lights too, which generally doesn’t work out too well for the beetles, or the person who has to clean out the filter.

The funny thing is, the associated smell of swarms of beetles in the air stirs happy memories for me. It reminds me of childhood, and staying up late when we visited family friends. It reminds me of putting the windows down in the car when it was time to drive home, letting the hot cimicine wind swirl around the brown vinyl interior, while listening to the steady thrum of thousands of suicidal beetles peppering the front of the car.

It still doesn’t work in a cocktail, though.

Christmas beetles in a tree

Christmas beetles in a tree