We are, I am told, going to have a big, I mean BEEEEEEG, year for bugs here in last year’s drought country. And by bugs, I mean insects of the pesky and biting and stinging and flitting and I-won’t-even-post-pictures-of-them (you may thank me now, John, Teri, et al.) varieties, the ones that descend on the garden and leave it as a small quivering heap of dusty tendrils that give a last shudder and fall to the ground, dead. The ones that swarm around my head and ankles in grim, itch-inducing clouds of biblical proportions and leave me wanting to explode into equally lifeless dust.
First we had a dry, hot year that sent a whole lot of bug-dom into hibernatory hiding. (Along with a whole lot of humanity ’round here.) Then there was this thing that purported to be winter but, in its temperate reality, was a very mild-mannered and brief cooling-off period during which the parched local world relaxed and the bugs began to feel quite welcome to reappear mighty early: mosquitoes bit me when I should have been wearing long underwear–though thankfully, not in my long-underwear regions, which would have been just too cruel for words. The return of rain here, which now to our astonishment puts much of Texas back on the plus side of normal precipitation levels and well out of drought status, was a regular engraved invitation to come and goof off at the spa, as far as the local insect population was concerned. Suddenly, flies are humming around in a leisurely landing approach to put their nasty feet and probosces on every morsel of goodness that appears, whether it’s a deliciously pretty bit of food on the table where I do not desire their company or the addition of their delicious crunch and protein to the dish, or it’s insecti-goodness of the garbage and compost varieties. Grubs and mandible-gnashers rolled out their equivalent of the heavy equipment and got down to serious work devouring tender green things left and right. And my quick walk across a grassy area acted like a strafing run in a bomber, sending up masses of craneflies like so much blasted, spiky shrapnel.
I have a special hatred for craneflies, I’ll admit, and for bugs that eat my plants or nip at my personage. I may be truly enamored of all sorts of crawly things as intriguing subjects at least when I’m safely insulated from actual contact with them, say with them in a nice tidy case in an insectarium at the zoo, or pinned on walls as magnificently weird and wonderful specimens in their pretty shadowbox frames. But when it comes to having them looping through the air in apparently aimless cartwheels that I happen to know are really going to have them fly directly down my windpipe or into my defenseless eye-bulbs or up there to nest in my hair or to burrow into my carotid and have a suck-fest on my life’s-blood (have I read too many outlandish horror stories? You be the judge)–well, I’m just not that live-and-let-live and forgiving a character, am I.
So I am arming myself with all sorts of anti-insect remedies, or things that purport to be so, and while I’m attempting with a certain modicum of ecological sensitivity to limit them to entirely natural and inoffensive and not widely toxic treatments, I can’t make any promises when I happen to see the first wave of evil bugs zeroing in on me and mine. It’s a matter of the hunter and the hunted, kill or be bugged. My general pursuit of happiness may have to take a backseat to pursuit of feisty insect vermin. There may be a few small detonations of either disturbed craneflies rocketing out of the lawn as I stroll, or of me spraying them with some wicked-sounding oil-soap-hot-pepper-nuclear-weapon spray intended to mortify and murder them in turn. There will certainly be skirmishes of all sorts. We are at war, sirs and mesdames, and I am not going to sit back and be antennae-whipped into submission without a fierce fight. My fight instinct is slightly higher than the flight one at this moment, so be prepared for bloody messages from the front. Here’s hoping that the message of victory isn’t delivered from Bug-topia. That would just be too tragic. Run for your lives!
Yikes! Head for the hills!