The Princess and the Bug

Bugs. Life is full of them. The good ones…

bee pollenAnd the bad ones…

DSC_2697One bug’s not so bad. Thousands…? Not so good. Excuse me while I have a little itch just thinking about them.

Bugs are the bane of my summer living. I should be acclimatised by now, swiping them off my fevered brow without a second thought, but quite honestly, the feeling of one bug on my skin is magnified 20 times so that I begin to imagine I have stepped into some kind of Hitchcock horror movie, where I am eventually devoured. Yes, in terms of bugs, I am a little like the Princess and the Pea Bug.

This particular quality is not so conducive to country living, as there are indeed a lot of bugs here, particularly in summer.

In fact, I have even been known to sleep in rooms other than my own, if the light has accidentally been left on and they have found their way through the not-so-dog-proof fly screen (thank you Jack the Dog for riping open that screen door once again for them). Only just the other day, I woke up in the morning to these words coming from my 5yr old’s mouth – “WOWWWWWWW! COOOOLLLLLL!!! Look at all the bugs!!!” It was certainly enough to have me springing out of bed in record time. I mean, what if they fell on me while I was sleeping? What if I accidentally swallowed one? What if one got into my ear canal?

When we first moved up here, it was Bogong Moths. By the hundreds, maybe thousands. Jack the Dog liked to eat them, then vomit them up the next day (too oily). Next it was Christmas beetles, the little ones, hitting me in the face and getting caught in my hair every time I walked outside at night.

And it wasn’t just me. Poor 5 yr old Thomas got stung 4 times in one day by 2 wasps at different times, and then there was Dougal’s Flight of the Moth…

Dougal once woke up at about 2am in the morning from a noise (the noise itself is not relevant). Resting his head back upon his pillow, he was unfortunate enough to accidentally put his ear directly on top of a tiny moth which happened to have picked that spot – out of the whole bed – to hang out. Well, what a ruckus! Apparently it is incredibly painful to have a live insect batting around inside your ear canal. As Dougal described quite succinctly in between screeches of pain – “something is stabbing me from inside my ear!!! EAOOOOWWWW!”.

Well, what to do? I had no idea! Trying not to think about my early alarm call set for 3 hrs time to commute back to Sydney (yes, this is not a new story, but highlights the problem of bugs in bed), I shone a torch down his ear to tempt the wee thing out. It was coming, it was coming towards the light – then it seemed it decided there wasn’t anything in the light after all, and headed back in.

We’re a 35min drive from Taree Emergency Hospital, so I opted for a shorter course of treatment – I rang them (small aside here – ringing Emergency is a great time saver, much better than the government’s help health line, and immediately helpful). Hanging up, I left Dougal in the bathroom yelling in pain, to help myself to a bottle of olive oil. “Hold still, hold still”, I told him, and poured the oil into his ear. It all felt quite wrong, as there was nothing there that I wanted to eat, but it brought IMMEDIATE relief. Turns out this is a very common tactic – smother the insect in oil (how very medieval), to stop the battering of its wings, and basically kill it. We then had to tape cotton wool over his ear for what was left of his night, and hope the moth would seep out into it (which it didn’t. But the GP was able to wash it out the next day). We kept the moth for a long time in a little pot on top of the fridge. Lovely.

So, back to me and bugs.

In this dry heat, there are alot of them. Walking through the grass, the grasshoppers fly ahead of my feet (no doubt on their way to feast at what was once the vegie patch – see pic, and sense my despair).

DSC_2851The flies hover and settle quickly on food. The honey and sugar are no longer in the pantry, as the ants keep seeking them out. The cicadas and Christmas bugs have finally stopped hitting the fly screen, only to be replaced by the yellow brown bugs of mystery – see below. Now those are really ‘bugging’ me.

These tiny beetles come in swarms. They send out a few scouts, who somehow send a message back to the millions of others – “Yo! Come over here! Yummy green leaves to suck the marrow of life from!”

And so they come. Breeding in the grass, this is what they leave behind…

Fortunately, everything seems to eventually grow back. But at a cost – the buds on the trees are decimated, the crop of the season or year is gone before it’s even begun, and there’s alot of morning vacuuming going on inside my house for those who do see the light.

Click, click, click click click up the vaccum nozzle. How satisfying.

Only to be replaced by this.



4 thoughts on “The Princess and the Bug

  1. Ah Bec, I’m laughing out loud! Although when I’m the victim of the infestation I don’t find it quite so funny. I’m pretty sure they’re monolepta beetles? Incredibly efficient little critters. A couple of years ago they completely de-nuded Mum and Dad’s Mop Top Robinias (in no time at all), which is no mean feat as they’re pretty big leafy trees. Great shot of the bee in your sunflower by the way.

    • Bec H, I can’t tell you how much I’ve been trying to remember the name of those bugs of death and destruction. Monolepta, hey? Am also impressed by your use of the word ‘de-nuded’. Fantastic word, wish I’d used it. So descriptive. Thanks re: bee pic compliment – yes, I’m quite proud of that one. Will try and slip the others in somewhere too!

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