Wednesday, September 20, 2006

In Which I Explain How I Decide Whether Bugs Live or Die

I am still recovering from jet lag, being one of those weirdos who gets no jet lag flying east to Europe but is a disaster for a week after flying back west to the U.S. Primarily this means I start snapping at Mr. McGee about 6 p.m. and I'm going to bed really really early. I still haven't liberated my pictures from his computer.

I'm slowly catching up on housework -- the cupboards are filled, the laundry is halfway done, the unpacking is progressing -- but I've gone nowhere with the garden. I went out there thinking I'd plant a late-fall lettuce crop, but the garden has become scary in the two weeks I was gone.

Almost everything is overgrown, often eating up the entire path. There's one crop flowering a really pretty blue. I have no idea what it is. The tomatoes and melons that came ripe shortly after we left but sat unpicked on the vine have turned rotten and are really, really, really gross. But the scariest part is that there are all these BUGS in the squash bed, bugs I have never seen before. I hate new bugs, because I don't know if they're going to, like, jump on the back of my neck as soon as my head is turned, burrow into my spine, and take over my body, yeerk-style, for their evil bug-like purposes.

But the real problem is that with new bugs, I don't know if I can kill them or not. The basic criterion for whether or not I will kill a bug is whether it is going to make an audible SQUISH! when I do so. So mosquitos and ants I kill, but not cockroaches. Anything with a high-quality exoskeleton I can't kill because the squish sound/sensation they make when the guts squoosh in the exoskeleton when you smush them FREAKS THE HELL OUT OF ME. So yes, I actually capture cockroaches and set them free in the wild because I'm too scared to squish them. (Not that we've had any roaches here, knock on wood, but they were friggin' everywhere in North Carolina when I lived in the apartment with the drunken maintenance team. I moved.)

So these bugs in the squash bed, which sit freakishly still for bugs out in the open in the sunlight, probably because it's getting cold so they're not moving around a lot, but POSSIBLY BECAUSE THEY'RE PLOTTING THEIR MASS ATTACK ON MY TENDER PINK FLESH, appear to have a shell/exoskeleton, but they're really flat, and I can't tell by looking how hard it is. And obviously I'm not touching one of those things because I DON'T KNOW IF IT BITES, or worse, burrows into my skin and becomes an alarming parasite worthy of a Discovery Channel documentary on what exactly they do to human hosts and how gross the surgery is to remove them. It looks too big to burrow, but YOU CAN'T TAKE THESE CHANCES with strange bugs!

So I can't tell if this bug is going to make that nausea-inducing squishy sound or not if I whack them with a shoe or garden tool or something, which means that I can't take the risk the bugs would make the vile and frightening noise, which means I can't kill them, which means I can't work in the garden because I don't like turning my back on strange bugs that might eat me for lunch when I'm not looking. No gardening is occurring until my spousal bug exterimator goes and kills them all for me.

Thank God I got married.


anon e. mouse said...

BTW, there is a wonderful solution for your bug problem. It is called "sevin."

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a squash bug.

Osthein said...

The chances of sinister attack-bugs turning up in your vegetable patch are vanishingly small, truly. On the other had you will have a mix of helpful, unhelpful and neutral residents. Are these wee beasties damaging the squash, ruthlessly controlling other bugs that would or just hanging out minding their own business and making the most of the autumn sunshine?

Eyebrows McGee said...

All strange bugs are sinister attack-bugs until proven otherwise.

And since I've been away for two weeks, I don't know if they're responsible for the squash damage, or if they've decimated my ladybugs and lacewings, or not.

Mouse - we don't use toxic stuff in our garden as a rule. Evil bugs must be squashed. Also, sevin poses a "slight mutagenic risk" for humans ... and I don't think they mean the cool, X-Men kind of mutants. And after I PAID to introduce lacewings and ladybugs to my garden, I'm not killing them off with a broad-spectrum insecticide! Them's store-boughten bugs!

anon e mouse said...

I've been meaning to get back to you on this posting for a long time. Yes, it has 'bugged me.'

Your pitch for "store-boughten bugs!" was not lost on me,
Laura. Or, shall I say "half-pint?"