Has anything been bugging you lately?

Published 9:08 am Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I was taking a shower.

It’s a good way to start any day with a “y” in it. It clears the fog from my brain. Some of you may use champagne, but I prefer water for my showers.

There was a spider in the shower. I greeted the spider warmly. I didn’t complain to the innkeeper about the spider’s presence.

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It doesn’t do much good to complain.

We’ve learned that some people don’t care to hear our complaints while others are overjoyed to hear that we’re getting what we deserve.

We complain constantly about weather. It definitely does no good to complain about the weather. The weather doesn’t care.

How about insects? Or, if you prefer, bugs? Does it hurt their feelings when we gripe about them? No, they have their own problems.

I need to remind everyone that even though most people think of them as insects, spiders are not insects. Why? Just because. That’s why and that’s all you need to know.

Do you think that you declaring, “I hate spiders” makes any difference to the spider? It doesn’t. What makes a difference to a spider is if you use this newspaper to swat it. Then the spider cares — or cared.

This is neither here nor there, but if you walk face first into a cobweb, even a gossamer (a fine, filmy cobweb floating in the air in calm weather), it’s perfectly OK to act demented no matter who is watching.

I like insects. That said, I think it best to keep my body free of ticks, fleas and chiggers. To that end, I’m willing to wear a flea collar.

I once lived in a condemned building that had a sign on the door reading, “Unfit for human habitation.” I was a college student, so I was allowed to live there. Odd insects climbed the walls of that dump. It was the first time I’d ever seen cockroaches, other than in books. They weren’t the Madagascar hissing kind found in zoos. They were creatures of disgusting habits and were tough enough to survive an atomic bomb. There were countless cockroaches skittering about as I sang “La Cucaracha” while reading Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.”

I realize that the presence of insects leaves some folks in heavy spirits. I’d never belittle anyone’s feelings. People have concerns. Everything creeps out somebody. Kiaphobia is the irrational fear of a certain brand of automobile and clickerphobia is the fear of remote controls. Phobophobia is a fear of phobias. Entomophobia, sometimes called insectophobia, is an abnormal fear of insects. Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders. Mottephobia is the fear of moths. Moths should have phobias. They fly around a streetlamp and become light snacks for bats. Spheksophobia is the fear of wasps. Acarophobia is an abnormal fear of mites, small insects and worms, or the fear of itching or the insects that cause itching. If the sound of acarophobia makes you itch, you have acarophobia. You’re like the racehorse that had fleas — it had to be scratched.

I have phobias. Elderly microwave ovens and reality TV shows frighten me. Lutefisk TV dinners and tiny multi-colored marshmallows scare me. Insects, not so much. I’ve eaten ants, grasshoppers and hot dogs intentionally. The song said, “There was an old lady, who swallowed a fly. But, I don’t know why, she swallowed the fly.” I know why. She was yodeling while driving a tractor, motorcycle or bicycle. I know I’ve eaten insects that way. I’m into fancy dining. They were all free-range bugs.

Insects and spiders rock. “Little Miss Muffett.” “Charlotte’s Web.” Jiminy Cricket. “The Flight of the Bumblebee.” We love butterflies, beetles, fireflies (lightning bugs), honeybees and ladybugs. Worms have given their lives for fishing. We battle mosquitoes, biting flies, ants, gnats, caterpillars and termites.

Insects certainly have us outnumbered. Edward O. Wilson, a Harvard University professor, said that if we weighed all the ants in the world, they’d weigh as much as all the humans. Prove him wrong. Ants should weigh a lot. They never miss a picnic.

One night, I set up a spotting scope mounted on a tripod so that I could look at birds passing by a full moon. I used a flashlight to aid the process. In the artificial light, I discovered diamonds. A wolf spider’s eyes were glowing at me. The large eyes of wolf spiders include a reflective layer, the tapetum lucidum, which causes eyeshine.

That was beyond cool.

Insects are interesting creatures. They are meant to be here.

All bugs want is the same thing we want.



Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.