Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Paradisal Pests

I seem to be on a bug thing here. Care to join me?

The Virgin Islands may be paradise, but paradise comes with a cost. There are certain things one has to learn live with if one chooses to live in the tropics.
Because most homes are without screens on the windows and lack air conditioning, (well, that's relative, there are breezes so yes, it's "air conditioned") we live in a state of mutual acceptance with nature .

We live with termites, as mentioned in my last post. We also have a number of different kinds of ants. I love the crazy ants. They're black and when you disturb them they run around like crazy in a gazillion different directions. When they get on you they tickle something fierce. But they're harmless. The ones I hate are tiny, itty-bitty ants that have a bite worse than a fire ant.

They are just visible here, next to a regular sized spoon and a small piece of egg shell.

Here are some other creatures we live with.

Mosquitoes. There's no getting rid of them. But you can reduce their numbers if you put mosquito fish (which are a relative of the guppy) in your cistern where they eat mosquito larva and thus cut back on the number of dive bombers. Living with mosquitoes means living with the possibility of getting dengue fever. I've had it. They don't call it break-bone fever for nothing. Every single joint in my body ached.

Sandflies. Or no-see-ums. Small almost microscopic biting flies that come out particularly on the beach right at dusk when it gets still.

Wasps. These are Friday wasps. If you disturb their nest they buzz around, ask questions and if there's no serious danger that needs attacking, quickly settle back down. They're cool. It's like they know it's Friday so they're relaxed and happy.

On the other hand there are Monday wasps which look the same but are bit larger and have an attitude. It's Monday, don't you know and they're pissed they have to go to work. If you disturb their nest they attack first and ask questions later

Mahogany birds. In Florida they are called palmetto bugs. I like the name mahogany bird better as it refers to their color which is truly a lovely brown mahogany besides which, they fly. They can grow to be damn near 3 inches long, so when they fly they really are rather bird-like. One time my sister and I caught one and put it in the freezer. A few days later we took it out and defrosted it. Sure enough, its legs began to wiggle so we smashed it. The beast that will survive the end of the world.

My grandmother used to say a cockroach is only as dirty as you kitchen and bathroom. She wasn't afraid to smash them with her bare hand either.

I'm not phobic about insects, although as a kid I was near phobic about spiders, but not any more. I am a strange graft of Friday wasp and a crazy ant.

What about you?Can you smash your fears or would you rather run from the room squealing? Are you a Friday or Monday wasp? A crazy ant or a tiny biter? Are any of your characters bug lovers or phobic about them? It can certainly add dimension.


  1. That is a tiny, tiny ant! I've always been cool with bugs. One thing I learned from my recent trip to Africa is that you really have to live and let live. Even with screens and such in the places we stayed, critters would still get in. It wasn't unusual to find a centipede sharing the shower, a lizard on the toilet tank, a spider or two hanging off the mosquito net (malaria was an issue where we went).

    In Zanzibar there was a colony of soldier ants that lived in one wall, and every morning they would form a line, trek across the floor and leave out the gap at the bottom of the door, returning periodically throughout the day. They always stayed in their line, and they didn't come near the bed so all was good. :)

    The Masai tribe in Tanzania actually use their heads as stitches when wounded. They use the pinchers to close the wound and then break off the body, leaving the head, which is embedded into the skin. Crazy stuff.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  2. Okay, I guess I'm soft. I don't do bugs. I've always considered it one of the benefits of hard winters.

  3. After living in Southeast Asia, there isn't a bug in the world that can scare me. The tropics produce some of the biggest, bossiest bugs alive. Of course, then we had the geckos and other predators that helped keep the bugs down a bit, but they had their own intrusive moments into my life!

  4. Those fire ants are tiny!
    With all those mosquitos and bugs, why are there no screens?

  5. Yup, I don't miss the bugs from India ... I love the cool of the Pacific NW.

  6. Yuck. I don't like the bugs. Well, maybe a firefly, but otherwise I'll pass. You are so right, though: characters with bug love, a lack of it, or something in between would be interesting. I'm just not sure I could write these sorts of characters. What can I say?

  7. Ummmm....don't know if I can do those critters. EWWW. I scream like a B-movie horror queen at the sight of anything with more than four legs!

  8. I don't like bugs so I'm not sure I could live in the tropics. Wonderful place to visit though!

  9. I don't like ants...we usually take bugs we find inside, outside...but we smush aphids in our garden (keeps their friends away) and I've salted more than a few slugs this year (the one's my dtr hasn't woken up in time to "save")

    Thanks for presenting the other side to paradise...I still want to visit!!!

  10. Wow, small ant!

    I'm neutral about bugs. I'm not scared of them but I just wish they'd leave me alone. If I can see them then I don't like it, but I'm happy if they crawl away under something and I can just forget about them!

  11. You document well some unpleasant insects. I have been reading a lot about bed bugs and one exterminator said we are all eventually going to get them. Makes you think twice about where you sleep and what's crawling into your suitcase.


Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!