THEM! It’s THEM!

Every light in our house from the front porch to our bedroom TV, even our computer screen, is now attracting every flying pest known to man. Ants the size of taxi cabs are marching their way across the livingroom rug, carrying crumbs, the cat and three of our dining room chairs. I shudder to think what they’re up to. But don’t worry, the spiders have descended to protect us all with their sticky webs—and bite us in the night leaving welts the size of a second head.

It’s the attack of the fluttering, crawling, wiggling, disgusting insects.

We have the traps, the bug spray, the motels (for us if we choose to surrender). But we all know we are fighting a losing battle. Once when I was a store manager we got ants around this time a year and I called an exterminator. The guy did his job and then told me that no matter what you do ants are going to make their way inside after their eggs hatch. You can slow them down, but they’re gonna come. So basically, he was making a living responding to people just like me who thought they could stem the insect tide when it was in fact an impossibility. I thanked him for not letting me know about this BEFORE he sprayed, and promised I would never make that mistake again.

What bothers me most is how the creepy crawlers get inside my head. Eight months out of the year if I feel an itch on my leg I just scratch it. This time of the year I jump up off my bed or couch and brush maniacally, trying to shoo the invisible pest I imagine is crawling all over me. I always think it’s one of those flying ones with the big spindly legs and the snout that is able to suck all the blood out of my body like a silly straw. I realllllly don’t like those ones.

Worse yet is waking up in the morning with bites all over the place. Just knowing that some six to eight-legged little beastie was having a grand ole’ time munching away on my flesh is enough to keep me up the next night, knees to my chest, guarding myself with a flyswatter. Maybe there was more than one, a veritable bedbug hootenanny, with rides and face-painting and five types of beer. I can sometimes swear I can smell fried dough and curly fries, and hear the faint sounds of “Mony Mony”. The original, not the remake.

Mosquitoes are, I believe, the scourge of this earth and are single-handedly responsible for spreading more disease than every snot-wiping 2nd grader in the country. Spiders freak me out because they’re so cold-hearted: they trap their pray in a web, inject it with a poison that paralyzes them and slowly turns their exoskeleton into goop, then wraps them up like a mummy and saves them for later! Good God! Inmates at Guantanamo Bay got better treatment! Ants are just so damned committed. They all scurry around with their respective jobs like something from the Borg Collective or Microsoft. I would not be surprised if it is the ants, and not the Chinese, who will eventually band together to conquer the world. And don’t get me going on bees.

People will tell you that there are many different kinds of bees, some of which are no threat to humankind because they are busy hopping from flower to flower to make delicious honey for us to eat. Then there are the ones who will only mess with you if you mess with them first, sort of like the insect Mafia. Then there are the little bastards who will follow you halfway across a parking lot just for the sheer pleasure of making your life miserable. Although I am dimly aware of the reality of the first two, it is the latter one I most frequently encounter. The other day I reached to open my car door and got stung on the finger immediately. That’s the way I like it, quick and done. Not like when a vicious with no provocation bee lands on your head, buzzes your ears with that terrifying humming that sounds like an angry vibrator (I’ve heard), and relentlessly screws with you until you jump into a body of water. There is no way to retain your dignity when you are faced with one of these terrorists. You wave and swat and move in jerking, nonsensical ways that appear, from a correct distance, like a grand mal seizure. Avoiding a bee is actually quite analogous to a seizure: you lose all bodily control for a period of time (sometimes inadvertently emptying your bowels), then you are generally disoriented afterward, saying barely intelligible things like, “You see that?” “Is it still on me?” or “Get it off! Get it off! For the love of all that’s holy get it off!”

Lately Mary El has been capturing whatever insect happens to be haunting us and gently showing it outside. I suppose this is the “moral” way to handle these things. I like to believe that I have a decent relationship with nature: I enjoy a nice sunset, I frequently acknowledge a particularly gorgeous day, and I sometimes like to look at a violent rainstorm and marvel at the mixture of beauty and brutality that surrounds us each day. But I must admit when I see a bug I smush that thing until it’s a stain on the wall. A rolled newspaper, a shoe, one of my sons, I’ll swing anything I got to make sure Mr. Arthropod doesn’t enjoy it’s last creeping, multi-eyed, antennae-wiggling breath. And even then there’s no guarantee. How can you step directly on an ant, remove your foot, and the bugger is still making a break for the nearest crack? Sometimes you have to smack that sucker four or five times before it succumbs, and even then I think it’s just faking. I definitely don’t like that something so small is as relatively strong as an ant is. If something 200 times bigger than me tried to swat me out of existence, I wouldn’t last until the second swat, I assure you. You can step directly on an ant, walk away and come back ten minutes later and that bugger is trying to drag itself away on one good leg! It’s easier to put away Freddie Krueger. And if you smash a daddy longlegs, each of it’s legs tries to get away individually! Ick.

The good news is that in a few short months the first frost will kill off everything that moves, or at least send them way underground. Of course, then we have to try not to freeze to death.

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    • Steven Patterson
    • May 29th, 2011

    “And I for one welcome our new insect overlords.” Yeah, it’s pretty much the same situation over here in Catskill. Just be grateful if you haven’t yet had bear sightings.

  1. Not this year, yet. Saw one on Rt 145 in East Durham about three years ago. Makes the bugs seem less annoying.

    • Kae
    • May 29th, 2011

    Texas is filled with giant, flying cockroaches. One of the first things I did when we moved here was to get the place sprayed for pests, though I’m told that in our neighborhood we’re more likely to have spiders and ants than roaches. I don’t like any of them. I’ve lived in student apartments in Austin where I was really just visiting the permanent tenants, the cockroaches, and in an apartment and a house in Corpus Christi that were plagued with the biggest roaches I’ve ever seen, the size of small mice. Ugh!

    • Dear God, Kae! I didn’t know cockroaches could fly! I hear that everything’s bigger in Texas–including the bugs. When we were considering moving out to Pheonix Mary El and I drove out there so I could drive my car to work. We stopped at a rest-stop and saw a little picture of a scrorpion along a path–they had scorpion-crossing signs! Mary El was not long for the West.

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