Creepy Crawlies by Janice Carter

I'm not a fan of insects or invisible things that creep around at night. I'm not sure where my bias came from, but I do remember many occasions as a child when my mother would holler for my father to come and remove some small flying or crawling invader in our house. I know many insects, rodents and reptiles get an unfair rap and I suspect a big reason for that is sometimes they're not pretty or cute. Why am I harping on about insects today, you may ask? Because I'm finally back at the cottage...where there are lots of them.
    But I'm not complaining. The trade-off is being in a lovely, restful place surrounded by Nature - all of it, including bugs. The dominant 'insect' on Garden Island where my cottage is located is the spider. Actually spiders are arachnids and not really insects and there are more varieties of them here  than anywhere I've ever been. Don't get me wrong. I'm not afraid of spiders, but I'm not keen on them sleeping in the same room with me. I know they eat a while lot of tinier, pesky bugs like midges, gnats and mosquitoes, which is a good thing. I just wish they could curtail their dining to outdoors. Their webs are breathtaking works of architecture and art, but can be booby-traps when spun across the open doorway of an outhouse. I have thick hair, a great cobweb snarer, which makes early morning visits to the outhouse a risky business.

Daybreak in the meadow

    In early December I went to hear an entomologist specializing in spiders give a lecture at a museum in Toronto. One fact resonated with me. He said that anywhere you are on earth, there is a high degree of probability that a spider will be within three feet of where you are standing. Two days later I was in the bathroom at home and saw a spider crawling along a baseboard. In winter! Canadian winter.

In the veggie garden!

    Another common crawler here is the garter snake, accompanied by his relative, the water snake. Neither is poisonous, so islanders aren't disturbed by them unless they manage to find an opening into one's cottage. I once spent a stressful hour trying to coax one out of my kitchen. Don't ask how...but throwing slippers didn't work.

Can you spot it?

    One summer years ago my brother and his daughter came to visit. I was driving them back to the mainland in our boat, accompanied by my two daughters. The girls were about 8,10 and 12. Halfway over I heard shrieks from the stern as all three girls leapt onto the boat's benches. An extremely large water snake had just burst out of the gasoline storage area and was shooting across the floor of the boat in panicked circles. By the time we reached the mainland ( a nail- biting ten minute drive) the snake had retreated back into its hiding place. The girls jumped onto the dock before we'd finished tying up. I looked at my brother (a big, strong firefighter) and said, "Don't even think about leaving until you get that snake out of this boat." Poor guy. Yep, he did. But his drawn, sweaty face was testament to the effort he made.
    These types of stories are best enjoyed months or years later, aren't they? I'm lucky to live in a place where the creepy crawlies are relatively harmless (with the exception here of deer ticks) and pose more of an inconvenience than a problem. Nowadays we are living with much more serious and deadly problems. I felt like I could use a break from them this hot summer day on Garden Island in the St. Lawrence River.
    Umm, I've just spotted a dark object in the corner of this room so....

Got any creepy crawlie phobias you'd like to share?

Thanks for joining today and take care, as always.

Janice Carter


Coming August 2020

Comments

  1. Janice, you lost me at "early morning visits to the outhouse"! :-) I live in the country. At the end of every day I have to check my children for ticks. It seems like the tick population gets worse every year - or perhaps my children just get older and more adventurous in the woods. My cousin moved from Ohio to Florida last year and now posts pictures of all the new creepy crawly bugs and critters she finds in her sparkling clean home. Every day seems to come with new discoveries for her. I don't like Ohio winter but I do like how it puts the bug ledger back to zero every year!

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    1. Ticks are both a hassle and a fear here. My toddler granddaughter is coming soon and we all will have to be vigilant. And so true the tropics have even scarier bugs! Winter is a nice reprieve...

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  2. For whatever reason, not encouraged by their mother, my children are fascinated by reptiles to the point that my daughter became known at her high school as The Reptile Girl. She is struggling to find an apartment that will accept her geckos, although cats and dogs are. Great batch of stories, Janice!

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    1. Good for your daughter! I like that and think a character called Reptile Girl would be a good addition to a Heartwarming, Moira!

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  3. I love this. I always love your island stories! I'm also a real weenie when it comes to anything creepy or crawly. Did your brother and your niece visit again soon?

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    1. Haha yes they did, Liz. Many times, though sadly not this summer as they're not in our 'bubble'. I sent him this post as a reminder of that time, but he hasn't replied yet! :)

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  4. I love the photo of the spider web--I love those early morning signs of life. For some reason, I can coexist with spiders I see, probably because of Charlotte's Web, where I can't tolerate knowing a snake or a rat is about. They're safe from me if I can't see them, but all bets are off if they appear. (Not that I know what to do about them!) I don't like being such wimp about snakes and such, but I'm not inclined to look for ways to get over it!

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  5. Their webs are amazing aren't they, Virginia. Though not so enjoyable when you accidentally walk through one. I'm not afraid of the snakes here, cause they aren't poisonous. But I'm a firm believer that some critters should stay outdoors where they belong!

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  6. I have a healthy respect for poisonous snakes, but no phobias. Yet, for reasons I don't understand, I had a bad dream last night (it cycled twice at least) about a viper biting a cat--we killed it & saved the cat, but the second time the dream cycled the snake got loose in the house. I definitely have some phobias about spiders. My explanation growing up was that I'd never found a snake in my bed, but I had found black widows - once right where I would have put my feet, but for some reason I checked. When I was heading for school and there was one hanging on the garage door, I'd take time to kill it, even if I was risking being late.

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  7. I'm horrified at the image of a black widow spider under the covers! Spiders sometimes get under the covers of our beds here at the cottage, which proved to be an effective way to get my then teenage daughters to make their beds!

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  8. I'm not particularly afraid of bugs and snakes, but I have a healthy respect for scorpions. My brother-in-law tells the story of how the cat brought a garter snake into their house. He and his two teenage boys jumped on the couch and screamed, and my sister (who was on the phone) ran in to see what was wrong, shook her head, and scooped up the snake and tossed it out the door without pausing her phone conversation.

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    1. Oh I love that story, Beth! Woman to the rescue!! Yay.

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  9. There was a snake in our garage a few months back. My husband was trying to get it out but was on his way to work and had to leave it. Fortunately, our solicitous neighbor across the street saw me struggling with something and came over to help. I told him about the snake and he took it out for me. I’m okay with them as long as they don’t bother me, but we have copper heads in this area, and they’re venomous, so those do frighten me. As for the spiders, I don’t really care for them. We have brown recluse spiders here which can do lots of damage if a person is bitten. The venom is more poisonous than a rattlesnake’s!
    Did I ever mention the time that I was on my way to check the mail and a lizard fell off of one of the rungs of my garage, straight onto the top of my head?!! That’s a story for another time.

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    1. Love your story, Laurie. I've heard if a gecko falls on your head it means good luck so maybe...? As for snakes and spiders, poisonous takes the game to a whole other level, right?

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  10. I've have a thing about spiders since before I can remember. As a kid I'd watch them crawl across the ceiling above me, praying them didn't drop. My brothers didn't help, they loved telling the kind of horror stories that big brothers excel at telling. My worst encounter wasn't with a spider, though, it was when we were trying to get a bat out of the church. I was around nine and it swooped down and briefly got caught in my hair.

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