Column: Let's hope this column doesn't bug you too much
WORTHINGTON — I never met a bug I liked. This is more or less true. The fact that bugs are a part of this earth is a recommendation for Minnesota. Minnesotans go (about) half a year with no bugs. I always have been happy to make the trade: lower temperatures for a bug-free environment.
Florida — Florida not only nestles alligators and deadly snakes but also enough bugs year around to earn it a title of America’s Bug State.
I have no quarrel with bees. (Bees are not bugs, are they?) Bees have me concerned lately. I have a too-thick patch of Virginia blue bells more or less just outside my back door. I should thin the blue bells, but I enjoy the great mass of them. They are nearly the first blooms every spring.
Each year, just as the blue bells show their beauty, I have bumble bees in the blue bell patch. I don’t know where those bees winter, but they always have made an early spring appearance. Until this year. No bees. This troubles me.
Honey bees. I treasure those. I treasure honey. Crickets. Maybe lightning bugs. Butterflies. Butterflies aren’t bugs either, are they? Those wondrous and wonderful Monarch butterflies and their migrations from Canada to Mexico are one of the marvels of nature. I like butterflies. Beyond these — I never met a bug I liked.
I was in my garage with a flower pot on a newspaper, filling the pot with some soil. Suddenly, something caught my eye, but I had to look twice or three times. There was a tiny brown speck no bigger than perhaps a fourth of a pinhead that seemed to be moving. I determined it was indeed moving. It was a bug. It is hard to believe a living thing can be so tiny.
Bug must have had legs for it was scooting right along, but I couldn’t see legs. I could barely make out the little creature itself. It must have had a head. I was thinking of the mouth and the belly. My word, a bread crumb would be rations sufficient for a month.
Where do you guess that little thing came from? I have no idea, but it is my impression that every year we come upon at least two or three bugs we never saw before. There is no end of them.
In a time gone by, we in southwest Minnesota scarcely knew wood ticks. Or Lyme disease. Those came upon us with the migration of the white-tail deer from the forests of the north to the corn fields of the south. Let me say, wood ticks bug me. And mosquitoes.
It it said there is a purpose for everything in creation, but I have not seen or imagined the purpose of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes keep me inside at times when I would otherwise be out, and I vow never again to be mosquito-bitten as I have been in times gone by. In addition to feeding on human blood, the mosquito vampires bear diseases. They are carriers of yellow fever.
Mosquitoes menaced the Meriwether Lewis/William Clark expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. It was when they got to Council Bluffs, to Sioux City, to Yankton that the explorers appreciated they were in mosquito country, which is our country.
I read that in the spring of 1803, before he left Philadelphia, Lewis mixed a concoction — a big batch – of salve for his Corps of Discovery. He mixed tallow and catgut with lard to repel the mosquitoes he had been warned of. The Corps men smeared this salve over their faces and their hands. It made no difference. Clark wrote that “mesquetors,” “misqutrs,” “musquetors” were a plague upon them through days and (especially) through nights.
Bugs. I have made no mention of termites. I don’t want to mention them. I have made no mention of spiders. I don’t want to. I have said nothing of Asian beetles or boxelder bugs, both of which have descended upon us by tens of thousands. One fall there were boxelder bugs over whole walls of Worthington houses. One local woman had a boxelder tree removed to discourage the infestation.
I just never met a bug I liked.
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.