Monday, June 18, 2007

Bloody, buggering... bugs.

Oh, no, cockroaches aren't enough. Now we appear to be overrun by inch-long millipedes, all over the house. This freaks me out most because they look like a slightly darker-in-color version of baby millipedes I knew in Hawaii, that grew up to be foot-long armored monstrosities that stung like scorpions. (Preferred method of destruction among the local folks I knew: The flame thrower method, using WD-40 and a lighter. There was a LOT of complaining when the WD-40 company changed to a non-flammable formula, most of it revolving around the "Damn it, now I have to get close enough to get stung to kill those fucking millipedes." Plan B usually involved a shovel, boots, and a lot of swearing.)

But I digress.

After finding the baby prodding one of these damn things, I hit the internet trying to find out exactly what toxic bugs there are in South Carolina. You would think, if the bloody military moved me the hell all over the place, they could see fit to provide me with this information when I hit town, wouldn't you? It would be helpful, sensible, and aid public safety. Of course they don't do it.

But I digress again.

Among other lovevly things I've found are two cases of anaphylactic shock triggered by fire ants. The allergic reaction people have to bee stings, when they die? Same thing. Only with fire ants. Aren't I happy to learn that? With my yard full of them? Deeeelighted.

Of course there are nasty spiders all over North America, including where I grew up. There are only two kinds in most urban areas: Black Widows, which have a neurotoxin that can cause pain or other nervous disorders, and Brown Fiddlebacks, which have a sort of tissue-eating venom that has to be cut out of affected skin. The photos I'm running across on the 'net bring back the lovely days of my EMT training.


I've also found that there are insect conservation organizations. What, like we need to save the little fuckers? Okay, I realize we need a few of them to pollinate food crops, and I suppose butterflies are nice, but CONSERVATION? Oy.

Oh, and by the way? You Aussies have some fucking scary bugs. Worse than Hawaii. You win the prize. Congratulations.

Killer bees have killed two people in Argentina this week. There are grasshoppers swarming in Madagascar. Allergic reactions abound. Fish eating fire ants are winding up dead.

Still can't find any information on the bloody damned millipedes.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go wrap my entire body in Saran Wrap and get a beekeeping mask to wear.

EDITED TO ADD: Thanks to the University of Florida (I think; having trouble deciphering the .edu addy), I have found the proper information. "These caterpillars feed on vegetation and have spines which can break off in the skin. When the spines break, a toxin flows from the spines onto the skin, causing a burning sensation."
Gag, barf, ick, ack. Bleah.
"When working in an infested area, wear protective clothing."
No shit, Sherlock. Thanks for the help.

Back to the Saran Wrap. Geeeeez. And I'll be having nightmares about the Wheel Bug.


Alexandra said...

Oh my god, I hate millipedes with the burning fire of a thousand suns. Most disgusting bug ever. And they're ALL OVER my basement. Bastards.

Donna Lee said...

My daughter informs me that carborator (sp?) cleaner and hairspray are both still flamable when used as a torch. Your can buy carb cleaner at auto stores and hair spray anywhere. How she knows this I am not willing to speculate on but I am reliably reassured that the info is true. I, too question the wisdom of not killing every insect in sight.(I also have a bee allergy and live in fear of being stung and having to actually use the epi pen I carry!)

Bells said...

so when was the move you mentioned a while ago happening? May it be to somewhere less bug infested.

Sheepish Annie said...

Ack!!! Oh dear lord!!! Holy Crap!!! And any other exclamation that I can think of...I am now going to thank the giant ants that have invaded my kitchen for not being something worse.

amy said...

This is the point at which I'd leave the computer, thinking a little Internet information is maybe too much. However, on my first day of my college entomology class, when the professor asked what we wanted to learn, I raised my hand and said I'd like to know what the heck was in my tub. (centipedes. uck.) We try to have a live-and-let-live relationship with the insects, but we have lots of very nice ones: dragonflies (which eat mosquitoes), butterflies, and the spiders are too small to do much damage if they happen to bite one of us by accident en route to catching something nasty and disposing of it for us. HOWEVER. I Do Not Tolerate ants in the house. I hate spraying, I hate toxins of any kind near my kids, but I had to give in on the ants because carpenter ants in your walls are bad news. AND I'M SO GLAD WE DID. I can't tell you how happy it makes me that I no longer am obsessively checking for ants every time I come home.

NeedleTart said...

OK. So add Hawaii and South Carolina to the places I never want to visit (which used only to be Florida and Australia. I read someone's blog,sorry can't remember whose, where she described Australia as a "whole continent whose only job is to kill you. Possibly in interesting ways.")

Katie K said...

Don't we get a photo of a demon millipede to illustrate your story? We don't have bugs like those here in NYC (at least I don't think we do). Anyway, very well written and funny. Good luck!

Becka - The Knitting Wounded said...


Terby said...

They're invading my house too. Why do the palmetto bugs have to die belly up? Hub squished a spider and a mosquito hawk for me in the last two days. I took out an earwig. We had ants recently, and had the bug guys respray the place even after the quarterly bug zap. Gross gross gross.

Camille said...

Yep, us Aussies have PILES of interestingly dangerous fauna and flora (Yes, Kangaroos are dangerous, they'll kick the daylights out of you, and no, Koalas are safe, but smelly)

That'd be why, when in Japan my sister didn't understand why they were warned that there was a dangerous (yes, just one) snake on the island.

Laural said...

Millipedes and centipedes disgust me so much that I had a hard time reading your post. All I want to say is that I feel your pain. I can't wait until our trip this year to Arkansas so we can get much on by the fire ants again.

Cindy said...

You mentioned the black widow and brown recluse (had a foster dog get a brown recluse bite back when I did BC rescue and it is awful), but the invasive brown widow spider has also become a big problem in the Charleston area. They come in a range of brown from light to dark, but still have the red hourglass on the abdomen. They build an irregular web and have spiky egg cases. They are highly toxic and spreading all over the Charleston area - we started finding then 3 years ago and every year there has been more of them including on L's outdoor toys. Watch out for them.

Roxie said...

If you just lacquer the critters with hairspray it clogs their breathing spicules and they die. I wiped out a whole hatching of baby spiders that way. Give it a shot.

Oh, and it's flamable as all get-out!

Bells said...

geez I don't know why the Americans are going on so much about Australia when there are a few nasties listed here that could rival ours! I'm happy to say I've encountered very few real nasties. We did find red backed spider in our shed a while ago and they're not fun, but they're so distinctive you pick them out straight away.

And I was going to post a photo a while back of the GIANT Huntsman living in our bathroom but he vanished and Sean said it would freak people out too much. :-)

Amy Lane said...

Thanks, sweetheart. I mean, really. Thanks...because I don't have panic attacks enough about bizarre things, now it's bugs. and I, awake, 2000miles apart, freaking out at dark-thirty a.m. Good times.

susaninoz said...

But Julie, they are our bugs and we love them :-). Bells, my Scottish hubby spotted a (very) small huntsman in the house the other night and had a pink fit. I removed the huntsman to the garden and waited for a few hours before I told him that a. said huntsman had actually been in the house a couple of weeks and b. I'd named him Harry. He was not impressed at all (hubby that is, although I should imagine Harry was also less than charmed by his relocation).

Fancy Pants said...

Oh dear, I can commiserate for sure. My garage (which houses my washer and dryer) is one giant brown recluse nest. Needless to say, when I found that out, laundry started going a lot more slowly. The idea of necrotic tissue scares me. Beware of the spiny caterpillars. They infest whole trees and will drop on you when you walk under them and they sting like all get out. Fortunately, they only last a month or two before they disappear. I have quite literally felt your bug pain before...Oh, did I mention our fire ant infested front yard? Gotta love the South. :)