Monday, October 11, 2010

Bug Stories

During the heat wave, pestilential pantry moths invaded our cupboards. We had to clean everything out and put all the dry goods into airtight containers.

When I mentioned this to one of the people I work with at the hospital, he nodded knowingly and proceded to tell me about how he lived in a house where the front was covered in ivy. One evening he came home and noticed something moving in the ivy. He looked closer and saw that it was snails--hundreds of snails--"I kid you not, Virgie, it must have been over a thousand snails." So he and the other resident poured salt water all over the legions of snails before they could destroy the plants.

When I mentioned the moth problem to a woman I work with at church, she gave the same wise nod and told about the time her brother wanted to replace a broken tile in her kitchen floor. The night the tile was removed, she noticed the cat acting strangely--jumping around, all agitated--and when she went into the kitchen, the floor was just crawling with termites. It sounded like something from a horrible nightmare.

Does everyone have a bug story, some disturbing encounter with the world of creepy crawlies that they're just waiting for the opportunity to talk about? There's something primal, even archetypal about the horror of seething insectoid masses. Removing a tile, turning over a rock, it feels like uncovering a frightening alien world--a world that feeds on the death and waste of our own kind.

And it's frightening how powerful insects, spiders, scorpions and the like can be. So tiny and fragile, yet capable of sickening, even killing; destroying homes; decimating food supplies; spreading disease. I suppose an intractable enmity is to be expected ...


Remigius said...

We have one but are not interested in sharing it; it's just gross. I think it's more that people feel they can't share these stories, but when they find someone who has a similar problem, they want to commiserate.

Perhaps it's similar to miscarriage in that way - it's something nobody talks about in polite company, but which is actually quite common (and a lot of people are there to comfort with that shared experience if it happens).

Peter said...

I think I told you once about the maggots I found under a stove at a kitchen where I worked once. We didn't normally move this stove (it was about 12 feet long, big, and really heavy), and just swept out from underneath it. One day, however, when we had some extra time, we decided to move the whole thing, and when we did, out spilled scores of tiny little, writhing, wriggling, crawling white worms that had been feeding on the occasional bits of grease that dripped down behind the stove.

"Disgusted" would be the wrong word to use. I was REVOLTED. I had only felt that emotion once before in my life, and have never felt that way since. I was compelled by a seething, powerful, nearly uncontrollable urge to destroy the filthy, disgusting things as brutally and thoroughly as possible. I was a hair's breadth away from stomping them to pieces with my shoe. Instead, I went to the chemical closet and bleached the entire kitchen dead (except for places where you'd put food, of course).