The Bugs at Night are Big and Bite…

Posted: September 11, 2010 in Bugs

First day here, a very large, dark-brown cricket ran across my bare foot while I was standing in the front lawn.  I thought it was a cockroach! *shudder*

But this story goes back further than that.  Allow me to begin at the beginning…

When we were here house-hunting in July, I found myself confused by the rhythmic buzzing noise that we encountered when we got out of the car in several neighborhoods.  It was like the electric lines were about to explode or something.  It was one of those situations in which I am reminded that some questions are better left unanswered.

Me: “What is that sound?”

Family: “Locusts”

Me: “Oh.”  [internal monologue] “Locusts? WTF? Like Biblical locusts? Where? How many? Why can’t I see them? Where are they?”

When procrastinating back home in CA, I looked them up on Wikipedia.  Turns out, they look a lot like grasshoppers.  Which is what I keep telling myself.  But somehow, that knowledge does nothing to soothe my admittedly-irrational fear of them.  I think it is their invisibility that makes it worse.  How many of them are out there?  What are they doing?  At what point might they swarm and devour my flesh?

One friend reassured me, “I have never seen them swarm.”‘ Here’s the problem – it’s not a rational fear.  If it were, just knowing that they look like grasshoppers would have defeated it.  So whenever I hear that buzzing sound, I look around wearily and try to move inside ASAP.

In case you are curious, here is a picture of some locusts in Texas:
Small Plague of Locusts, Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, Humble, Texas 0510100930

Seem harmless, right?  But judging by the rate at which I am devoured by other bugs here (mostly mosquitoes), and the damage that they inflict (mostly angry-looking, itchy red welts), I am a likely candidate to be the first person ever eaten alive by locusts.  Death by locust! At least that would be something to add to my Wikipedia page?

People find my fear of locusts amusing.  So they are quick to fill me in on other creepy-crawly menaces.  Fire ants sound awful and tarantulas seems so monstrous I refuse to believe that I might ever actually encounter one.  But the one that scares me the most is the chigger.  Again, you can’t see them, which makes them difficult to avoid.  I don’t even know what to look for, since a quick image search turns up nothing more than photo documentation of the grisly aftermath.  Again, it’s the invisibility that is half the problem.  Here’s how I picture them in my head:

Childish drawing of a chigger

Artistic Rendition of a Chigger (and yes, I know it should read "antennae"; spelling doesn't count in phobias)

Fearsome, is he not?  So I avoid grass whenever possible, which probably makes landscapers and groundskeepers rejoice.  Doesn’t matter if it’s tall grass, short grass, well-kept, or unruly – if there is any other path, I’m taking it.

The funny thing is that in CA, I really didn’t mind bugs.  I viewed the wee crickets as good luck, the spiders as helpful gardening friends, and the mosquitoes as nothing more than a nuisance.

But in Texas, the bugs are bigger.  And they are unfamiliar.  And some of them are invisible. And carry swords.

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