Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Trouble With Pests

Bugs and I have a love and hate relationship. They love me and I hate them. Just seeing some bugs or spiders will send me into a screaming frenzy. I've had terrible nightmares about bugs, spiders, and rodents. Remember those movies from the 70's with giant ants? Those are the kind of dreams I have. They have caused me to scream in my sleep. They have caused me to jump out of bed. As a kid, I even had screaming, sleep-running issues (as you can read from one of my earlier blog entries). I am not fascinated by bugs in any way, shape or form.

As a kid in the 70's, I spent a lot of time outdoors. Well, we all did. There wasn't much to do indoors. In Southern California, it was easy to be outside a lot, anyway. It was always sunny. We went to the beach, we played in our front yards, we ran down the street. I wasn't afraid of what was in the grass, it was just a place to lay down and roll around. Until I realized what was in there. WORMS!! Ewwwww! And sometimes, even a bee or wasp.

One day, I was playing around in the grass, probably near a planter somewhere. I stepped backward, right onto a wasp. While my dad went out to rid the world of a wasp nest, mom had me on the counter with my foot in the sink to take the sting out. Over the years, we dealt with more wasp nests than I could ever count. I avoided several areas of the outside of our house, including some of the backyard and in front of the garage, sometimes even the entry way of the house.

Dad, of course, did the yardwork. I remember him hosing down the wasps nests, and doing the cut backs on our bushes, and cutting the grass. At one point, he had to get up on a ladder to cut something back. Boy, did he piss off the bees. He was attacked by those big old black bees. Luckily, he was able to get down off the ladder safely. But he was stung about seven or eight times. This made me terrified to go in the front yard or near our plants for any reason.

But inside, that was a different story. Spiders, mosquitoes and ants, oh my! We even once had a mouse problem. We could hear them in the walls. It scared the crap out of me when I could hear them scratching their way through the walls. When I was young, like before the 80's, at the end of our street and behind our house were fields. We would take the dogs running there. But it also served as a lovely place for wildlife to live. When they started building houses behind us, the mice moved in. I saw one once. It ran across the hall and underneath our green wicker hamper. My mom was trying to chase it down with a broom. But that was the only time we SAW one. When we cleaned out my closets or drawers, we would often find mouse poop. Luckily, once the condos were built at the end of the street and there were no more fields the rodent issue seemed to disappear.

When it rains in California, it RAINS. It doesn't do this off and on drizzly crap that it does in the Pacific NW. When it rained, we would get ants. They would come in the power outlets and take over. Our house (other than my bedroom) was generally spotless. Dishes were done at the end of meals, there was no food stuffs (except my room) anywhere. The ants were never in my room, probably contrary to popular belief. There would be thousands of them in the kitchen. You could see the line of them from the power outlet to the butter dish and the sink. I think we threw away more butter because of that. But I would also find them in the bathroom for no apparent reason. They would be in the bathtub, they would be in the sink. There was no getting rid of them. Really.

Every year, you could always tell it was summer. You know how? My shoulders. They would be covered in bites. My mom used to say that I must have had sweet blood. I probably have some scarring on my shoulders from how much I scratched. The mosquitoes would eat me alive. I never saw them. I would just wake up one day, and start scratching. Maybe this was my alternative to never having the chicken pox. Instead of having those ten days of being covered in horrid itchy blobs, I got years and years of suffering through my shoulders.

Now we come to my two favorites: spiders and termites. Termites freak the crap out of me. Not that they did anything to me, but because they swarmed my room one day and sent me screaming from my room. I actually thought they were flying ants. As I ran screaming downstairs, my parents were understandably alarmed. They only laughed when they heard “flying ants” for about a second when they checked it out. My dad was pissed. Not at me, of course. But because we were getting infested by lovely house eating bugs. I ended up having to stay out of my room for several hours, while my dad sprayed. It was great going on vacation – every time, we had to set off those damn bug bombs. Ugh.

I have a very real aversion to spiders. I don't know where it came from. When I was really young, I went on a trip to the desert with some friends of my parents and their kids. Most of the trip was great. But they collected tarantulas and scorpions and put them into these plastic-y things. I swore that they were going to come alive, get out of that plastic stuff and get me while I slept. I still have nightmares about this sometimes. When I was an adult, I had to move home for a short period of time. I chose to sleep on the floor. Sleeping on the floor was not the best choice for one reason – I was eaten alive by baby spiders. I sure was pretty with all my spots!

Now, I will see something shadowy in a corner, I jump, thinking it's a bug. I see something move out of the corner of my eye, I think it's a bug. I even freak out if I see a beetle on the wall at work, or a spider in the light fixture. I'm a mess. I hope I get over it one day... But probably not. Uck, even thinking about it right now, is giving me the twitchies....

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