Friday, August 6, 2010

A Bug's Strife

Deb: I have spent the better part of my life as a murderer of bugs. Not first-degree murder mind you, but definitely bugslaughter. It’s not like I had an issue with or grudge against a particular bug. I didn’t scheme and painstakingly plan to stalk it and kill it and make it look like a suicide. No, mine would be more what you call a crime of passion. I see a bug. Freak out. Panic. Eyes searching for a well-read magazine. Bam, insecticide. Guilty as charged.

All my life I have been fine with this. I felt justified even. After all, weren’t the bugs invading my home? It’s not like I was cramming my big toe into their anthill or insinuating my schnoz into their hornet’s nest. Wouldn’t dream of it for any number of reasons. And yet there I was, victim to their constant invasion of the home that I fashioned out of the wilderness with my bare hands or, at the very least, snapped up in a bidding war twelve years ago.

So, yes, damn it, I had no choice. It was kill or be stung. And if the bug was bigger than the dog or bug-ugly, I would employ the services of a henchman in the form of my reluctant, sighing husband. I am not proud of this stereotype. I would love to think I fought valiantly against it ,but I did not. A big hairy bug, after all, can knock all reason and courage right out of a girl’s head.

Then one day something happened in my killing spree that brought about a change of heart. I woke up one day and found a little winged creature trapped between the window and the screen. He was flapping his little wings frantically, desperate to get out. My years of skipping biology classes told me he was a boy. And that his name was Bill. With lightening speed and accompanied by my inside voice singing “Born Free”, I cranked open the window and pulled the screen out! Watching Bill fly off to freedom was all it took to change my evil ways.

From that day on, I have become a friend to crawly and winged creature alike, capturing and relocating with the deft workings of a witness-relocation team. I have traded in my rolled up magazines for a drinking glass and a thin piece of paper (my new tools in this insectitarian effort). As I sat out in my garden the other day, I realized that the word of my brave and selfless deeds had gotten out. I could hear the bumblebees buzzing, “There she izzzzzzzzz, she’zzzzzzzzzz a legend, she’zzzzzzzzzz our friend.” You got that right, my little bee buddies. That I am. Yes, indeed I am ... OWWW! MOSQUITO. BAM!

Okay, so I’m a work in progress. You have to draw the line somewhere.

Barbara: Hysterical, Deb! Man, you hit the bug on the head for me on this one!

I have always been squeamish about bugs (and rodents, of course), definitely resorting to my husband for any necessary bug-letting, and usually taking up said magazine-roll. But strangely, very recently, I have noticed myself also going Buddha on the bugs. I find myself (quite despite myself) very gently removing bugs from the home and not stampeding for the nearest weapon.

Just the other day, a massive moth infiltrated the abode. I was in a snit—alone, no white horse nearby, no recourse but my own actions. I was desperate to be rid of it (unlike spiders, which I leave to their bug-catching ways—especially since we don’t have any killer ones here. Poor Rigel and her awful spider attack.) In the past, we have been the sad victims of the treachery of moths—both a larvae infestation of our kitchen pantry and cupboards (which was truly one of the grossest experiences of my home-owning life) and another infestation of my clothes closet. Oh, the carnage. Hard-earned and treasured cashmere sweaters. Just the right-kind-of-sexy t’s. All in the garbage. This nightmare is what flashed before my eyes as I stood apoplectic before the moth.

It, like your bug, fluttered desperately at the window. As if it could read my killer thoughts, it became more and more agitated. It was so HUGE, I didn’t know how to proceed. Then, like you, I found a piece of paper and gently coaxed it off the pane. Again and again, just angling the edge under its little “feet” while it panicked. Finally, it took the bait and found a perch on the paper. I walked as carefully as I could to the front door and, cringing and groveling, shooed it off into the wind.

It was a GREAT feeing. One, because I could do it, and two, because I saved it. Zen and the Art of Insect Liberation.


  1. I hate bugs as well. They are creepy. If I see one then I always give it to my dogs and let them take care of it. To them its like a play toy.

  2. Pests, one and all! (okay, maybe not all, there is definitely a place for insect catching spiders and dragon flies, etc..., just not in my place)

    I used to be part of the bug saving society you are now just joining. I always, I mean ALWAYS saved any insect that got trapped in my house or classroom (no matter how much of my school day was interrupted by trying to get it to safely leave the room). But the other day I found myself killing spider after spider on my cottage dock. After the carnage was over I felt terribly guilty, but then faced the fact that I am now a murderer and will just have to go with that. It felt good to know I could lie out on the dock and not have spiders crawl over me. It feels powerful to suck 27 earwigs up the vacuum cleaner too.

    It's great to know that as I kill about 100 more insects this year than I ever have in the past, you ladies will be saving that many and everything will equal out. Phew, the karma plane is back in balance!

  3. Deb-I think I subscribe largely to your evaluation of size and attractiveness, and then factor in a 'can it fly' and a 'but is it really cool' component. The vast majority of bugs with no human malice (don't sting or bite) get caught and put outside UNLESS (they are repulsive--i.e. black flies) or have more than six legs... SPIDERS I apply a location/size/attractiveness to--basement and smallish--ignored... bathroom/bedroom DEAD. Large DEAD, hairy DEAD. Menacing DEAD. Wings work against a bug, unless they are really PRETTY--moths and butterflies always get saved. I really LIKE beetles, and super cool interesting bugs (walking sticks, praying mantises)

    Outside I put up with all of them except mosquitos. Mosquitos deserve genocide, in my book. There is no benefit and they are EVIL.

  4. I used to be a bug killer myself, but have renounced my ways. Now I just grab my camera, stalk the poor creature, and try to get few macro photos before releasing it into the wild...Spent the better part of 30 minutes the other night trying to get a picture of a cicada shedding it's skin, but alas it was not meant to be. My only beef with bugs is that they don't hold still long enough for me to get the shot!

  5. Ha, Nicole, thanks for the laugh! Yay for karmic balance. But it sounds like Hart is killing enough for both of us. Although I have to say, her list sounds pretty cohesive.

    And, Ruth! After viewing your gorgeous photos, I am sad the cicada didn't turn out :(

  6. I'll rescue ladybugs and other beneficials. I have very fond memories of playing with rolypolies in my Granddaddy's garden when I was a little girl.

    My fluffy old cat thinks moths are toys and taps into his inner energetic kitten whenever a moth strays into the house.

    But, I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate spiders. Any spider that invades my space must die.

    Why? Because of crap like this (very graphic, look at your own risk):

    Day 7 of my brown recluse bite, right thigh:

    Day 8 of my brown recluse bite, right thigh

    Yes, that is a large hole in my leg. The hole is the small centerpiece in the middle of a woundsite that's larger than my whole hand with fingers splayed. And, yes, the venom made me sick. I've had flu-like symptoms for a week, and the sickness is only now starting to back off. I hate, hate, hate, hate, HATE spiders.

    *cranky, snarly, bitter, hateful pout*

  7. The bug comments are killing me (pun intended) I feel like the angel of mercy compared to some of you guys and frankly it has made me feel better about my many years of carnage. My dear friend Chery says (this is for you Rigel) that spiders are the spawn of satan. She is kind beyond words and yet has no qualms about squashing them like...well...bugs.

  8. BTW, Barbara, I hate to do this to you, but you do have dangerous spiders in your area. You have a northern species of the black widow spider. A black widow's venom is a neurotoxin, very dangerous to humans. The dangerous (potentially lethal) component is alpha-latrotoxin.

    Your kind of widow spider is a very close relative of the black widow spiders that are common where I grew up in Alabama (and are also here in Arkansas).

  9. Perhaps small steps? After all, as a person who practically jumps three feet in the air everytime i see a bug, i can say that it's not easy to get rid of the 'see-a-bug-and-kill' instinct.
    Where i live, there is a event that comes every year during the summer. The event is basically a giant tent set up in the middle of one of our yearly carnivals and it is essentially a giant tent full of beautiful butterflies! You can hold the butterflies and all too. I have friends who would not be caught dead within 10 meters of a bug and yet after they went to this show, they've slowly started overcoming their fear of insects.
    Perhaps if there is a event such as this close to where you live you can attend to overcome the automatic 'freak out' reflex :)

  10. OOoooo, I wish I could go to that butterfly tent! That sounds so magical!

    Earlier this summer, I had a small, pretty yellow butterfly land on my thumb while I was sitting outside. I sat very still, and it stayed there for several seconds sunning its wings. Half a minute of heaven! :)

    (But, I still hate spiders.)

  11. Rigel, thanks a frickin' lot for your black widow comment! Actually, I think I knew that, but as we never hear of anyone getting bitten, I have been able to effectively block that morsel from my mind. Now I will look ate every spider askance *sigh*

    But, Patricia! The butterfly tent!!! Are you kidding? That sounds truly divine. And it does make perfect sense in helping to rid a person of the the buggy heebeejeebees (sp?).

  12. Barbara -

    They're smallish, black, kinda pointy looking, smooth, and have little bright red triangles on their tummies. It's the females that are dangerous.

    Now, you don't have to wonder about EVERY spider.

    At least brown recluses aren't indigenous to your area! :) This is what got me:

    Love and hugs,

  13. I have a very random approach to this. Some bugs see Dr Collett, while others are subjected to Mr Cruella. A fews days ago I carefully let several spiders out from my bedroom, but today I happily steamrolled a fly just because I could (as it turned out I couldn't. The bastard escaped!). The other night, though, when I found a snail (!) in my custard (!!), I cleaned it as best as I could (!!!), and let it out (...).

  14. A ... snail ... in your custard ...??!! I guess we'll just have to imagine that scenario (or maybe you'll blog about it?!).

    Rigel, thanks for the links. They are indeed a help. Damn brown recluse.

  15. _A Snail in My Custard_ sounds like a good title for a fun, silly children's book. :) Hmmmm.....

    The snail in my custard didn't like mustard so he slid away over my spoon.

    And, I had a hunch it'd be a strange lunch when the casserole chirped like a loon.

    And, mice? There were few backstroking in stew diving from the edge of the bowl.

    Tureen of gravy? Splashing and wavy! A swimming pool for a vole.

    The chimp wore a bib while he ate prime rib and shared potatoes with a stork.

    Root beer for poodles and bears ate noodles
    While katydids liked roasted pork. inifinitum...

  16. I looooove it, Rigel. I think you need to send that one around!


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