I have a slight fear of spiders. I honestly have no idea where it came from, since I used to be totally okay with them as a little kid. But in my old age (lol), I've grown increasingly afraid of them (parallel to my increasing fear of heights). Despite that, I still enjoy the "misunderstood spider" meme. I think this one is my favorite:
Some of them actually invoke a little bit of regret for all of the spiders I've squashed in my lifetime... but not enough to stop me from squashing more. Ew.
Growing up in Vegas, we had a lot of various types of beetles and (the ironically located) oriental cockroaches, also known (more ironically) as "waterbugs," (click me if a bunch of pictures of cockroaches won't gross you out) and they'd crop up all over the place and in the worst ways. That weird itch you thought was a strand of hair? Waterbug. That sound you heard, like a soft "plop" on the table beside you? A cockroach falling from the ceiling.
There's also some type of scorpion (I can't remember the name) that was imported to Vegas (the person designing a new mall insisted on a specific palm tree from California) and totally infested when I was in middle school- and while not native, they come from a more similar climate, so they're harder to get rid of than cockroaches.
But curiously, when I was a kid, I pretty much always ended up being the person to kill the bugs if I was home and one was discovered.
"AaaaaaAAAAGH! GAAAAAAB!! BUUUUUUUUUUG!"
I got used to it before I realized how weird it was. And by then, it was way too late. So by the time I was, I dunno, eight, all I needed was a piece of TP or a paper towel, and I'd be fine. The only bugs anyone else ever killed were Black Widow spiders, because, you know, poison. Then Dad would step in. Other than that, it was me.
And that, uh, bravery (?) led to me still being mostly okay with killing bugs as an adult. I get weirded out and goosebumpy from spiders, but pretty much anything else, I dive right in and go for the kill. I stayed at my roommie's place in PA two summers ago for a few nights, and when I found a centipede on my pillow, I shrugged, went into the bathroom, grabbed some TP, and squashed it in my hand with said TP, all within less than a minute. And I turned the pillow over and went to sleep.
You'd think I'd be afraid of bees, though, but I'm not. I was stung just below one of my eyes while at a pool party once when I was like four. I remember clinging to my New Kids on the Block towel as if my life depended on it, and you'd think that would have scarred me for my future. But no, I don't really care about bees or wasps. Just leave them alone, and they'll leave you alone (usually).
I used to play with those rolly-polly bugs (called armadillidiidae, apparently- a name that makes sense, but that I don't bother trying to pronounce) all the time when I was little. I even had my own "I Remember Melville" moment once when I was uber upset that one I thought of as a pet for five minutes decided to croak. I did this all the time until I found a colony of them in my dog's poop. I don't think I've touched one since.
So the heat in Vegas led to lots of species being unable to thrive. Even though waterbugs like, well, water, they only survive because they hang around houses and pipes- if it weren't for humans, they wouldn't have even been brought here, let alone been able to last by themselves.
But some bugs, like fleas, for example, just can't cope: My mom's best friend drove her lhasa apsos out to our house from Southern California once because they had been stricken with a nasty case of fleas- she stayed while her place was being fumigated. But by the end of the first twenty-four hours, the fleas were all dead. Our own boxer didn't really suffer at all.
Now that I have River in Indiana, where it's moist and icky, I'm starting to worry about different ways of caring for her than I did our boxer (or do my mom's chihuahua). Namely, the parasites and bugs I need to protect her from. Heartworms and fleas are the main ones I'm... worried isn't the right word... Um... On the lookout for, I guess.
And another odd thing that changed with age: While there weren't a LOT of mosquitoes in Vegas growing up, and yeah I'd usually get a bite or two a year, if we ever traveled somewhere with mosquitoes, I'd be the one with the most bites by the time we left. Sometimes I'd be the only one in the family bitten at all, too. I don't remember them bothering me all that much, but as I've grown older, I seem to have developed an allergy. Because now, every mosquito bite ends up itching and swelling into something the size of a spider bite, at least- and that's when I don't scratch them. They burn and hurt and and make it impossible to sleep sometimes. And even though I've tried probably a total of $100 worth in OTC creams, I can't find any products without a prescription that do the trick.
So as much as I love River, I can't help but get angry at her when she takes her sweet little time finding a place to shit because I always, always, ALWAYS get bitten by at least one mosquito. The record is I believe eight new bites during one walk. The fuckers get me even when I wear long sleeves and pants- they either get my gorram hands, or my forehead, or my neck, or something. I'm not safe. Nowhere is safe.
And I know I get a slight and entirely unreasonable twinge of jealousy when I see bugs on her and she doesn't ever seem phased by it- not when we're still outside, nor at any time after we get back in the apartment. It's like she gets bit but it doesn't itch. Like nature's fucking with me. Nature is saying, "Hah! I'm going to force you out into my trap by making your dog picky about her POOP, of all things. And I'm going to make you feel like the flesh is being peeled off of your skin as you do it. And that pet of yours, she's going to be happy and excited and oblivious to the fact, even as the same bugs are sucking her blood out of her, and even as you're on the verge of tears from crying as your elbow swells up to the size of a strawberry on one side and gets only slightly less red in color from one bite, while a bump that looks like a huge wart starts to form on your face from a different bite." And then she sits there, laughing with the mosquitoes like an evil mastermind or something.
Yeah, like I said, entirely unreasonable.
Happily, a quick at-home remedy I was told about by a friend from middle school a few years ago, though, is hot water. Like, borderline scalding. For as many seconds as you can stand. So my routine this summer became a morning semi-dip, one in the late afternoon, and one right before bed. I do my best to get all of the bites under the faucet in the bathtub, and it usually works. So when I feel the last spritz wearing off, I go into the bathroom again and repeat. And I'll sometimes end up needing to do it right after getting back inside with River because of some horrible new bite that is already driving me over the edge. The last time I did it, I was scrambling to get inside and de-itched before some friends came over- I wasn't fast enough. And that bugged me, a lot.
I'm back in Vegas again with the family, and by golly, I'll take triple-digit-and-dry-with-barely-any-mosquitoes over nineties-and-humid-with-clouds-of-bloodsuckers in a heartbeat. It was oone of the things I had on my list of "Reasons to be Happy About Going Back to Vegas" I was making (superficially) in my head as I psyched myself up in the days leading to the trip.
So imagine my sheer angst when I saw a fucking mosquito on the bathroom mirror an hour ago.
And then the sick pleasure when I managed to smash it with my palm- I wanted to whoop and holler around the bathroom in triumph, brandishing the remnants of that fucker like the head of a conquered enemy. I would have taken a picture, but my phone was downstairs, and I needed to finish brushing my teeth and stuff. Suffice to say, I'm hoping I killed the last mosquito in the house. Otherwise flames. Flames.
I'll be in Washington in a week. I imagine there will be more mosquitoes than here, but fewer than Indiana. So I guess it'll be a transitional period for me. Fortunately, I'm fairly sure I'll be staying with people that'll give me the autonomy to jump into the shower for two minutes. It's a good thing Vegas has so few mosquitoes. Otherwise I don't know what I'd do here.