Bug Off!

Posted by Ben Stevens on

Yes, I am that guy.  The one who waves his arms around and screams at pitch that is only audible to dogs.  I am not the guy, like my dad, who can work outside covered in mosquitos, black flies, and any other bugs and act like this is normal.  I probably would be if it wasn't for a couple of experiences in my life that turned me off of the little tiny demons.  We also have to agree it has gotten worse lately with new insect related illnesses such as lyme disease from these ticks that keep moving further north each year.  I recently read about a disease a type of tick carries that makes you lifelong allergic to red meat...yes that is a legit thing.  And this is here in our home province not some tropical island.  So my disdain for bugs has grown over the years but stems back to my childhood.


When I was a little boy I was fascinated by bugs but not necessarily in a caring I love bugs sort of way.  I used to play with bugs till they were no longer alive, which is normal for kids or at least all of my kids.  Adrianna once came up to me and said "Look I found a salamander dad, it's my friend".  She placed it in my hand and I realized that it was actually a stick.  But upon closer inspection it was a salamander that clearly had been friended for so long that he had no moisture left and was the consistency of a stick.  We had the talk about being kind to living creatures.  I, on the other hand, was more interested in bumblebees as a child.  I would roam the yard in my barefeet stepping on them, apparently not a very bright kid.  It was a long time though before I actually got stung and when I did it didn't bother me.  My grandfather pulled out the stinger and I hardly said boo.  I was on the path to being just like my dad and not at all bothered or concerned with bugs.  

Things, however, changed when I was in my teen years.  The first negative experience was at my parents cottage, actually both of them occurred at that location.  There are a series of trails behind the cottage through the woods.  I quite often would ride my bike through these trails even though it was truly off roading with tree roots, stumps, and piles of leaves.  Anyone clueing in to where this might be going?  I drove my bike through one of the piles of leaves only to discover it was covering a hornets nest.  I dropped the bike and ran as fast as I could back to the cottage and inside.  I ripped off my sweater that was covered in hornets at which point I heard a yell beside my own.  My mom was yelling "Get out of the cottage, don't bring them inside!".  This is a pretty reasonable request for any person to not want hornets in their house, but for my mom it was a matter of life and death since she is allergic to hornet stings.  So essentially I was pretty close to committing manslaughter on my own mother using wasps as the weapon.  I ended up with some stings and my journey towards disliking tiny bugs began.  

Then the moment that truly changed it forever occurred one summer when I went looking for our pump air mattresses made for the water.  Made out of a canvas type material, blue on one side and red on the other.  They essentially were single beds that floated allowing you to stay in bed but still be out in the sun on the water.  Ahhhh...so many sunburns.  This story though is about finding them because they were put away from the previous summer and I didn't know where to find them.  I asked my mom and she told me exactly where they were.  Located in the rafters of the cottage where we stored lots of stuff.  I grabbed the box that had the air mattresses and placed it at my feet while I sat on the couch.  I grabbed the first of two air mattresses and pulled it out of the box to begin inflating it with my mouth.  Unbeknownst to me there apparently was a colony of ants who decided it was the perfect place for their nest.  Now a colony of ants in a box with air mattresses is not really that big a deal.  At most it's an eww and take it outside so they aren't inside anymore.  The problem is I only discovered the nest because it landed squarely on my lap and burst into hundreds of black ants all over me.  This time I did the opposite reaction to the hornets, I ran as fast as I could outside into the front yard.  I began fast as a I could stripping off my sweater, my shirt, my socks, and my pants.  My mother hollered "Ben, keep your clothes on, the neighbours".  I replied "I don't care what the neighbours think, I am covered in ants".  

I don't know about you but that is plenty of reason to make a person not like bugs very much.  Now when I say I don't like bugs it is primarily limited to being on or around my body.  I still take note of different bugs and take photos and appreciate the beautiful diversity of insects on our planet.  There are some phenomenal insects that do some pretty cool things.  Even the ones I don't like are pretty cool, I just wish they would be cool not around me.   

                                      (Not same species that stung us)

A few summers ago the deal was sealed when my son Deus and I walked through a hornets nest but they were weird bluish hornets.  Yellow jackets have nothing on whatever these were as Deus and I could both feel the venom traveling in our bloodstream, super strange feeling.  Tingling sensations in our hands and feet where we weren't even bitten.  The most disturbing thing though was two days later the stings still ached.  I officially without reservation of announcing it was no longer a fan of tiny insects around me.  So if you ever see a full grown man screaming and waving his hands around with nothing noticeable to cause it, you most likely are seeing me and some sort of bug trying to land on me.  I'm ok with being that guy, cause my experiences have brought me here.

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