Sunday, July 27, 2014

Things that make a fear of bugs even worse: A List

No clever blog title for this post.

I want to take a minute to discuss bugs. I know you are all shocked.

I'm terrified of bugs. I always have been. This fear interferes with most aspects of my daily life and I might go so far as to I have a bonafide phobia. I'm sure my contemporaries would agree.

Because of this, I have conducted anecdotal, observational, and other research on all types of insects (and arachnids). Know your enemy, right?

You know those BuzzFeed lists we're all pretty annoyed of at this point that start with something like, "13 things all ___________ think of....", or "7 things to stop doing in your _____________" ?

I decided to make one of those annoying lists. My list is called:

"4 Things a Certain 27-year-old Who is Entomophobic is Tired of Hearing"

1. "Palmetto Bugs"

Ah, the term "palmetto bug." If I could send this euphemism back to the fiery pits of arthropod hell where it belongs, I would. A palmetto bug IS NOT A THING. It doesn't exist. The term "palmetto bug" is a frilly, inappropriate, completely made-up nickname for cockroaches.

It's pretty obvious where the term derives. It's no secret that these little hellbeasts are rampant in the state of South Carolina, and they mostly live in trees if not in a super-urban setting. In my opinion, this is the worst euphemism in existence. I detest it, and an English teacher detesting any type of figurative language is a pretty hard thing to do.

The pests to which most people are referring when they use this term are either: A) American cockroaches, or B) Smokybrown cockroaches.

Exhibit A:

This is the American cockroach. Mahogany in color. Winged. Deplorable.

NOT a "Palmetto Bug"

Exhibit B:

This little monster is the Smokybrown cockroach. Slightly darker. Slightly bigger. Abhorrent.

Still NOT a "Palmetto Bug"

Exhibit C:

Just for good measure, this is a Water Bug. Not a cockroach at all, but sometimes also lumped in to the Palmetto Bug category.


I'm especially talking to you, girl-at-the-same-outdoor-bar-as-me-last-week, who tried to calm me down when an American cockroach came walking near my table by telling me, "Oh it's okay, it's just a Palmetto Bug!"

Because Palmetto Bugs do not exist.

2. "You can't kill a ladybug; they're good luck!"

On the contrary, my friend.

I can and I will. But I will do it with Raid, as ladybugs are simply BEETLES that emit a foul smell if smashed. And also because I don't like the feeling of the bug crunch under my shoe or other smashing vehicle.

"But they eat insects that harm crops!"

"But they don't damage anything in your home!"

"But they're cute and lucky!"

I don't care.

I'll add "I killed ladybugs" to the very long list of things for which I am probably already going to Hell.

3. "It's more afraid of you than you are of it."

Has this sentence ever assuaged ANY bugphobe's fears, ever?

Has saying this EVER caused someone who is mid-hyperventilation to magically cease and desist and decide that they're perfectly comfortable being around whatever bug-demon happens to be around them?

Has this ever prevented a 13-year-old from jumping, fully clothed, off the end of a moving speedboat in Lake Keowee to avoid a bumblebee?

Has this ever prevented a 23-year-old graduate student from calling her mom when she got home from the library late at night so she would have someone to verbally calm her down as she checked every corner of her apartment for roaches?

(Those last two might have been me).

And the answer is: No, obviously it hasn't

A phobia, by definition, involves a "persistent, irrational fear" that compels the afflicted party to avoid whatever causes it.

Trust me.

Someone who is terrified of bugs KNOWS they look utterly ridiculous when flailing about in the produce section of the Piggly Wiggly because a fruit fly flew out of the onions.

Someone who is terrified of bugs KNOWS that stopping class and offering extra credit to students for killing roaches or spiders that wander into your classroom is absurd.

Someone who is terrified of bugs KNOWS they are being ludicrous by circumnavigating their entire apartment complex to go in the door on the other side of the building because a spider was near the closer door.

Saying this to them accomplishes nothing.

And -- for the record, I don't agree with the statement that all bugs are more afraid of us than we are them. Here is just a sampling of bugs I'm convinced are NOT scared of us:

A. Wasps

 Is further explanation needed? Wasps will fuck you up. 

B. Silverfish

Granted, silverfish might be too stupid to get to the point where they are scared. Last week, a silverfish crawled directly into my toilet bowl and died because -- despite their suggestive names -- silverfish can't swim. It literally drowned itself.

Still, a silverfish will crawl right up into your business and muck up an otherwise perfectly bug-free evening. They love chilling in your bathroom sink, lurking in anything you may have stored in a low cabinet, or just popping up to say hey as you wash your hair in the shower.

Not scared of me.

C. Roaches 

Please don't tell me roaches are scared of me. They are not.

Anyone who has ever had a 2-inch roach erratically fly directly at your face on a summer's night knows this.

Roaches don't give a shit about your can of Raid, your rolled up magazine, or the bottom of your shoe. They will crawl wherever they damn well please.

Oh, you thought you killed that roach by spraying it with a little bug killer?

NOPE. Five minutes later, guess who's back and a little high off Raid fumes?

Oh, you thought stepping on and decapitating a roach would slow him down?

NAH. Just give him a couple minutes and he's crawling right back up your patio chair, sans head and curious as to what you've got on your plate there.

Last, but not least on this list is:

4. "Bugs just seem to flock to you!"

There is a big, huge difference between disgusting insects "flocking" toward me, and simply being hyperaware of and sensitive to their presence.

These are the types of people and things bugs "flock" to:

I am not a lantern, last time I checked.

I am not a pile of gross trash.

I bathe pretty regularly.

There are just as many bugs around you at any given time. I simply notice them way, way, way more than the average person.

Bugs will surely continue to impede on my life for any kind of foreseeable future. In the meantime, I suppose I will simply have to deal with the unpleasantries that accompany this phobia, aside from the bugs themselves.

Kudos to all the other entomophobes out there. Keep on keepin' on.

1 comment:

  1. Your great-grandmother in Houston never had a cockroach in her house. She did, however, have an occasional water bug. The resemblance was remarkable.


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