I thought it would be cool to write a somewhat Halloween related blog post, but as you will see I kind of went a little off track!
You see, I thought: ‘what scares me?’ And the first thing that came to mind was spiders, cockroaches, and other creepy crawlies. Maybe it would be fun to just scare you with some horrible stories about the most traumatic experiences I’ve had with bugs, and make out that they are all evil and that I hate every species, but it’s not that simple! I also happen to have an admiration for insects, sure, some are gross, but some are completely fascinating and they amaze me!
So, in the most vaguely Halloween-related post ever, here is a post about my love-hate relationship with these pests, featuring some ‘horror story’ experiences, but also including a nod to my favourite bugs, and a few photos of some as-of-yet unidentified mysterious creatures that I have discovered on my travels…
(Beware! If you are sensitive to creepy crawlies then these true horror stories may just haunt you like they haunt my memories…)
The Daddy(dragging it’s)Longlegs
My earliest insect-related memory is from when I was about 7 years old, we were at Primary school playing on the field, and it must have been Harvestmen season because there were daddy long legs everywhere and good lord, it was disgusting.
The horrible boys started whacking as many as they could with baseball bats and the poor insects were obviously feeling vengeful because they started flying about like mad. That’s when one flew past my face at such an extremely close proximity that IT DRAGGED ITS LEGS ACROSS MY EYE. I literally felt its legs scratch across my eyeball, and it has traumatised me to this day.
The Boiled Spider
Although I disliked daddy long legs with a passion, it was spiders that scared me the most for the majority of my years. I’ve had a few distressing spider experiences but there is one in particular that is burnt into my memory…
Once upon a time I had a favourite mug, it was a quirky, retro Cadbury’s mug that I bought from a vintage fair with my mum, I absolutely loved it and it’s chocolatey brown colour. However, the problem with a dark brown mug, you see, is that you can’t quite see what’s at the bottom of it when you are making your cup of tea-and I learnt that the hard way!
Imagine this, after taking a few large gulps of your delicious brew, you give it another stir and lift out your spoon to see: A BOILED SPIDER. That’s right, a huge, fat, boiled spider body was sitting there in a puddle of tea, and its long, soggy, boiled legs were dangling right down over the edges of my teaspoon.
(After dropping the spoon straight back down in complete and utter shock and horror, then fishing it back out to take another look) I realised that the spider had only seven legs, yes I counted, and even upon washing the cup out I couldn’t find that other nasty boiled leg. Which led me to believe that I had swallowed it during my first ignorant sips of the poisoned beverage, and though it could’ve been psychological, I swear I had a sore through and a cough all day.
The Cockiest Cockroach
After getting my heart set on a year abroad in South America, I decided it was time to man up when it came to my fear of spiders. I was sure that there would be plenty of awful arachnids lurking in wait for me in the Southern hemisphere, so I actually trained myself not to be afraid of spiders.
How did I do this? I spent time at my family’s Garden Centre, inspecting all of the biggest offenders. When I finally managed to look at spiders without squirming, I actually started making myself catch them in my hands to take them out of the house (I still squealed a bit but I managed to do it!) And with determination, it worked! By the time I jetted off for Uruguay, I was barely scared of them at all…
But guess what? It was all for nothing! In my entire year in South America, I barely saw any spiders at all, and as it turns out, I had forgotten about something far, far scarier that was waiting for me when I got there: cockroaches.
In my first Brazilian house I could barely sleep because I knew that they were scuttling around at night. I couldn’t go into the kitchen for fear that I would turn the light on and see them flee, I couldn’t go to the bathroom without seeing one on the skirting board or the wall watching me while I was trying to do my business.
When I moved into my second house there was a big juicy one just waiting for me inside a wardrobe, I screamed when I opened it and it bolted out under the bed. Ana and I spent a good half an hour trying to catch that one and smash it into cockroach hell; not the nicest welcome to a new house!
But by far the most horrific cockroach story is the tale of the cockiest cockroach I have ever had the displeasure of coming into contact with… While I was completely relaxed, in my summery jammies, watching tv on the sofa, I suddenly became aware of something slowly crawling up the back of my shoulder. For some reason I thought it was a big moth, a big moth that had the AUDACITY to be tickling MY shoulder, so I jumped up and tried to frantically brush it off- big mistake. The creature fell down my back and into the waist band of my trousers, I could feel it tickling my tailbone and if I wasn’t careful it was going to fall down onto my bum!
(Even as I write this now, every hair on my body is bristling with panic) I just about managed to flick the intruder out of my waistband and onto the floor, where it revealed itself to be the BIGGEST COCKROACH I HAD EVER SEEN, at which point I imploded into hysteria and let out such a scream that Ana came running out with our ‘cockroach bashing stick’ (a plank of wood we kept for emergencies) and proceeded to chase it around the living room while I stood on top of a chair and felt like there was nothing I could do but cry. Eventually she did what she did best and smashed it to smithereens, thank god for Ana, but I still had nightmares for a long, long time.
Bugs I’m not only not scared of, but I actually like:
As I said though, not all bugs are bad. Despite being terrified of some creepy crawlies, I love to watch the odd documentary about them, especially really cool ones like good old David Attenborough’s Life in the Undergrowth. In an attempt to calm myself down after reliving those terrible tales, I will now proceed to share with you some of the critters that I find awesome and most interesting…
The Praying Mantis
When travelling through the night from Iguassu to Dourados, Will and I stopped at a strange bus station at around 2am, a time when I expect to feel cool, fresh air- but this air was steamy and tropical, and the glass of the bus station trapped in the humid heat like a greenhouse. This meant that the whole place was buzzing with moths, grasshoppers, and other insects. And that’s where we encountered our first Praying Mantis! At first we thought it was a humongous grasshopper, so it shocked us when we realised what it was. Slow moving and almost regal, the Praying Mantis is even cooler up close in real life than on TV, I had never seen one before and I just think they are one of the most fascinating creatures out there.
The Atlas Moth
Believed to be one of the largest moth species in the world, I’m captivated by the design- the tips of its wings perfectly resemble snake heads poised to strike– and the weird life cycle of this species… Once hatched from their eggs, atlas caterpillars spend their days munching and munching until they grow to a big and chunky 11cm long (!) they then pupate for about a month (!) and one emerged from the cocoon, their only purpose is to lay their eggs- they have no mouths, and as such only live for a few days! All of that work to create such a huge and well-designed moth only for it to live for such a short time just seems so beautifully bizarre to me.
The Morpho Luna Butterfly
Another insect Will & I discovered on our journeys, these huge but delicate creatures were majestically floating around during our time at the Indígena nature reserve, and we were lucky enough for some to actually land on us. We gave them the name ‘moonlight butterflies’ because we didn’t know their name, but they had a lovely white/blue iridescent shimmer that reminded us of moonlight. (The photos don’t do it justice!) And surprisingly enough I later found out that their scientific name is the Morpho Luna, so they are in fact named after the moon! (I also love all butterflies in general)
No specifics here, I just think dragonflies and their colours are awesome and lovely to look at.
On my year abroad I saw many a mysterious bugs that I couldn’t identify, but unfortunately I didn’t get many photos! I just marvelled at them for about 10 seconds maximum, then scarpered! But here are 3 creepy critters I managed to get a photo of:
What bugs are you scared of? Are there any you like? Can you identify those mysterious insects? All comments are welcome as usual! Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween!