This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I’m a terrible wimp. Snakes don’t scare me, mice and rats don’t bother me in the least, and even spiders aren’t a cause for undue alarm but when it comes to flying insects, especially anything that stings, I am the biggest wimp ever. Over the years, this has been a source of chagrin for me, and a source of amusement for bystanders as I let out a whoop, bend at the waist and go running like some crazed duck doing a demented Three Stooges impression. “Woo, woo, woo, woo, woooooo! Nyyaaaaarrrr!!!” There’s no logic to ducking down and running, it’s not as if going lower will somehow magically evade their radar, and the noises, well…those are involuntary. And often louder than I intend. That whole involuntary thing again, ya know?
I was prepared for Palmetto bugs when we moved to South Carolina, having encountered them from my time spent in New Orleans. Giant roaches, that’s all they are. And while they freak me out due to just how inordinately creepy they are, I know they can’t actually hurt me. Give me nightmares, yes, but hurt me, no. I knew we’d have stinging insects here, already met a fire ant and learned just why they’re called that as we were house hunting (give the phrase “feel the burn” a whole new meaning) and figured bugs were bugs where ever you went.
Clearly, I was delusional. At no point did it enter my mind to consider the possibility that if the Palmetto bugs get as big as a small pony, that the other insects would as well. Somehow, that line of thinking escaped me completely until we’d bought our home and I was spending some time painting the bedroom. It was a mild day; the front door was open and the storm door closed. As I’m painting, there’s a tapping, as if someone gently rapping, rapping on my closed storm door. “Just a moment” I call, then….nothing more. Again as I paint the wall, wondering who it was that called, I hear the tapping, tapping of someone at my closed storm door. “One minute” I call, as I cease to paint the wall and greet the visitor who is still tapping, still insistently rapping, rapping at my closed screen door…Getting to the door I cry, as a hideous site meets my eye, tis a hornet, and nothing mo-HOLY CRAP!!!
|This should never knock on anyone's front door. Ever.|
Never had I seen a hornet that was two inches in size, let alone one that could KNOCK on my front door like the welcome committee from hell come to call. “Oh hey, (tap, tap, tap) heard you were new to the neighborhood, (tap, tap, tap) thought I’d drop in…” The accompanying shriek would have done any scream queen proud as the front door was slammed shut and the locks engaged. Hey, if it could knock on the door, I wasn’t taking any chances. That evening I set out for our local hardware store, still in my paint splattered clothes and possibly still a little wild eyed from that days encounter. No doubt, I must’ve looked a sight.
The thing about Southerners is that (generally speaking) they are so unfailingly polite that the clerk at the store’s only reaction to my story of the hornet from hell (related in a very animated way) and asking if they had anything in the store to annihilate Satan’s minions, like say, a flame thrower, was to get me their best hornet spray and offer to swing by after his shift and help me. Bless his heart. That offer of help really galvanized me into putting on my big girl panties and doing battle with the nasty SOBees myself. Or maybe the paint fumes had finally gotten to me. Whichever the case, I wasn’t prepared for how aggressive they were, or for how they’d repeatedly attack the car trying to sting it as you pull into the driveway, but many cans of hornet spray later, they’ve decided to take up residence elsewhere and terrorize someone else.
Since then, I’ve learned that many bugs are bigger in the South, locals will always have a bit of helpful advice on how best to get rid of them, and I can get away from a wasp or hornet without running in a crouch doing my best Moe, Larry and Curly impression…well, most days.
Well, I'd better be buzzing off! Till next time, y’all!