Entomophobia II

T

he Cicada Days are fast approaching. According to sources, the cicada are due to emerge sometime between May 14 and 18 and will be above ground shedding, screeching, mating, laying eggs, and dying until the end of June. That’s approximately 8 weeks. Virtually the entire first session of summer school. Thanks to ldyalanna9‘s BF for hooking me up with another gross photo of the dreaded cicada. The thought of cicadas–a relatively unfamiliar insect–is starting to give me the heebie jeebies. Check out the red eyes. Is that not weird or what? I went walking outside today and found a bunch of small deep holes around the trees next to our house. M told me that some of the cicadas have probably already emerged and are preparing to break from their shells. I looked up into the trees wondering if these very bugs were looking down at me from above, gleefully waiting to gross me out…

Bugs didn’t always freak me out. As a kid, I could pick up snails and grasshoppers, but mostly on dares. I think there was a desensitizing effect from always playing outside. Back then we did not have the Internet, PS2 or Gameboys. Every summer, we played from sun up to sun down outside ih the backyard or in the park and as a result grew accustomed to the environment which included bees, ladybugs, beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies, ants. They were still kind of scary, but you learned how to play around them. The scary ones were the unfamiliar ones. I remeber encountering a big black bee–at least that’s what my friends and I referred to it as. It buzzed our heads and I all ran home screeching to my mother: Is it poisonous? Do they have them in Japan? Will we survive?

Today, I dislike bugs for different reasons. No, they still give me the creeps, but I have an adult excuse to avoid them: They’re filthy. Who knows where a grasshopper or beetle has been crawling? And I’m sure I don’t even have to discuss the feeding habits of roaches and flies. Yuck. But I must admit that unfamiliar bugs still give me the willies. When I went to Japan to study–my first time living for an extended period in Japan by myself–I was confronted by a new world of insects. During the summer, they had these mosquitos that had clearly distiguishable black and white stripes around their bodies. One landed on my arm and I was frozen with fear and curiousity as it started to suck up my blood–*gokun, gokun*–before I swatteed it on my arm and saw the splat of my own blood. Gross.

The insect that really freaked me out was one I had never seen before: the cricket. Believe me, if you have never seen one, it bears no resemblance to Disney’s Jiminy… Anyway, in the late fall of 1984, I was living in a six-mat tea house in Zenpukuji (Suginami-ku, Tokyo), when I heard an eerie sound. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it reminded me of the chirping of insects I had heard at the beginning of the ride at Disneyland, Pirates of the Carribean. I looked around the small room, then into the bathroom where I found a small black critter. Is this what was making the sound? It looked like a small black grasshopper. No sweat, I thought, as I reached down to pluck it up by its hind legs. Then I saw it. On the back of its body, there protruded two horns. Woah! What’s this! The grasshopper from hell! I was totally unprepared for this. I jumped back to the other room, grabbed a broom and smack the living daylights out of it. I don’t know if it was dead or not, but I got a handful of tissues, grabbed it, and threw it outside. My heart was still beating very hard when I sat down at the kotatsu (heated table), trying to catch my breath, satisfied that I had survived an insectoid attack…

My Japanese friends laughed when I told them what happened. I learned that what I smacked was a cricket, and that many in Japan find their chirping to be rather soothing, and don’t consider them to be too much of a pest. Like hell…

What was the wierdest insect you ever came across or was unprepared to confront?