I have killed some bugs in my time. Granted, if it’s a spider of any size, I use a wad of paper towels the size of a boxing glove, but the end result of death to the bug is all that matters. That is immediately followed by flinging the wad as far from my person as possible, and doing the obligatory “get it OFF me” seizure, which consists of hopping from foot to foot while turning in a circle, whacking myself with open palms, and emitting a “hoo-hoo-heh-heh-heh” noise. Before you smirk at my cowardice, allow me to regale you with the spider horror story of my youth.
I was sleeping soundly on the top bunk in one of my childhood homes, my sisters snoring away below. Some malicious-bug sense woke me from my slumber. I opened my eyes to behold a spider crouched on my pillow, inches from my face. As I opened my mouth to shriek, the spider launched into action. It scurried towards me, onto my face, into my mouth, out of my mouth, and then I don’t know where it went because I had lost the ability to function as a human being. I thrashed around like a landed fish, fell five feet from the top bunk to the floor and began to beat myself about the head, hoping to dislodge the demon spider in case it was still around. I spoke in tongues as I crawled to the bathroom, dry heaving for a good ten minutes into the toilet bowl.
With this sort of memory lurking in my brain, it is a miracle that I don’t start to gibber and convulse when I see a spider. Spiders, however, are not my only bug enemy. I have, on occasion, come across other aggressive bugs that don’t have the natural fear of humans that the smart bugs do. It creeps me out worse than my imagined angry ghosts at 2am, because I don’t believe in ghosts, but I believe in bugs. Bugs are EVERYWHERE.
The scariest bug I ever met was on the back deck of my parents’ 7th or 8th house. They were out of town and had asked me to see to things while they were gone. I had taken care of the mail and was sunning myself peacefully next to the pool when I remembered that the flowers needed to be watered. I held my mother’s showerhead watering contraption above each pot for a count of 15, hoping my black thumb disease wouldn’t somehow jump from me to my mother’s Better Homes and Gardens flower-scape. As soon as the water hit the last flowerpot, a humongous, buzzing, hopping creature burst forth, causing me to scream, fling the showerhead into the air, and run for safety. After a few minutes, I peeped my head outside. The creature had disappeared. Heart pounding, I scanned the deck for any sign of it, and all of a sudden, it raised its head above the railing of the deck. It was a praying mantis of gargantuan proportions. It looked just like all the creepy aliens I’d ever seen on the Sci-fi channel, complete with bulging eyes and triangle shaped head. It stared at me and I stared back, trying to recall if I’d ever heard of anyone being killed by a mantis. This was no normal mantis, though, because it had big huge wings. Praying mantises don’t have wings! Do they? Was this a new species of mantis, one that was flesh-eating? I thought I remembered hearing that female mantises ate their husbands. Did the females have wings? Was it going to mistake me for a husband mantis because I had no wings? Seized by this scary thought, I ran to the garage and grabbed the first thing handy, a metal grass rake. I approached the mantis, trembling rake pointed at it. It didn’t move. I slammed the rake head down on the top of the railing, a mere ¼ inch from the monster bug’s sinister alien head. NOTHING. Why wasn‘t this bug afraid?!? It must have known something I didn’t, like maybe it could spit venom into my eyes and blind me! Thoroughly shaken, I thrust the rake forward, bopping the bug off the railing altogether. It buzzing madly away into the neighbor’s yard, and landed on a tree. I tried to lay back down and relax, but my eyes kept wandering over to the tree. What if it was just waiting for me to close my eyes so it could descend onto my body and devour me? That was it. I grabbed my things, went home, and locked myself in my bug-free bedroom.
When my parents returned home, I warned them of the predator mantis, but they just laughed at me. My mother said that it’s the people who are afraid of bugs that attract the bugs TO them. Great. I’m a dead woman. My only hope is to buy one of those biohazard suits that don’t even let germs in. No monster bug is going to feast on MY flesh.
2 weeks ago