Bug shrug: or, confessions of an almost-homeowner

ant face

The last thing an ant sees before he . . .


If asked for a single thing that scares me about moving out of my parents’ house, I’d tap the ol’ chin and squint my eyes before shouting: bugs.

A famous family story features my dad, freshly home from a business trip, coming in the front door to greet us. Tired from a long flight, he’s probably looking for dinner and stories of what he missed while he was gone — and instead, 3- or 4-year-old me charges at him with a worried expression. After not seeing him for days and without even a word of hello, I yell, “Papa, there’s a big bug!”

Eh, that could have happened yesterday.

I’m afraid of bugs. Like, really afraid of bugs. Not eww, gross, bugs! kind of afraid but OMG, they’re coming toward me, GET THEM AWAY FROM ME NOW kind of afraid.

It makes life interesting.

Spencer calls my “duck and cover” approach to all winged insects the “bug shrug.” If a dragonfly, bee, wasp or stinkbug approaches, I’m running clear across the yard like a crazy person with my shoulders hunched around my ears (for protection). Like most people, I can’t say I ever liked bugs, but my overall insect aversion has definitely ramped up in the last few years.

Over the weekend, I was innocently preparing to bake some cupcakes at my parents’ house when I noticed a trail of ants leading in from a windowsill. It’s summer, we’re surrounded by trees — bugs happen. Logically, I know this. But the second I spotted them crawling along the wall, my skin erupted in gooseflesh and I ran for my secret weapon: the vacuum cleaner.

Given how scared I am of bugs (yes, even the ones that “can’t hurt me”), I definitely can’t touch them. Or get close enough to touch them. When one spring found me locked in mortal combat with a single stinkbug in the bathroom every morning as I tried to shower, I kept the vacuum cleaner handy to suck up that disgusting monster without dirtying my hands.

Last night found me hovering in the kitchen near the ant trail, skin crawling, as I shouted “Braveheart”-esque nonsense at the insects.

“Not on my watch!”
“This ain’t no bed-and-breakfast!”
“Get outta here, you little @$&^@*!” (Sorry, Grandma.)

I wish I was kidding.

As I edge closer to moving in with my fiance, I’ve been thinking about what being a homeowner really means. Fixing your own problems, for one — or paying for someone else to do so. Covering all the expenses. And dealing with your own bug issues. As a 28-year-old woman who still routinely calls her dad to smash spiders, I’m really worried about being alone with a bug. And Spencer leaves for work early.

I realize this might sound ridiculous — especially if you don’t share my fear — but trust me: bugs are not my thing. What will happen if I pull back the shower curtain to reveal a spider I just can’t kill? If Spence is halfway to the office, I’m going to be alone in an apartment with only a soul-destroying bug for company. And I can’t go to work with dirty hair.

Not even the bug shrug will save me.


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12 thoughts on “Bug shrug: or, confessions of an almost-homeowner

  1. I’m so with you. I live alone with my kiddo, so I have to take care of the bugs, but it is a huge pain in the arse. My tip: be proactive. Get one of those plug-into-the-wall bug and mouse scarers (no idea what the actual word is — they send out ultrasonic pulses of some sort), and have a good rapport with an exterminator. Just in case.

  2. Perhaps a flyswatter with a really long handle will help. Unless it’s poisonous or really creepy, I’m ok with bug removal. I’m not sure why they don’t bother me, my mom was terrified of bugs so I didn’t learn it from her. Maybe my years of gardening made me immune to the critters. Can’t avoid them when I’m digging in the soil.

    • Quite true, Leslie — and I’m liking the idea of the flyswatter! Good to have handy so I’m not in “touchable” range. That’s my biggest problem: getting close enough to remove them means getting close enough for them to land on me. (Cue panic attack.)

  3. I’m thankful my husband does most of the bug smashing around here! Also, those little “ant traps” work great to capture all kinds of bugs. It may be my imagination, but we seem to have less visitors since using said traps.

  4. Ah Megan, the vacuum cleaner is totally a bug-killing/capturing tool. I live in a 2-story house so I have 2 vacuums (wouldn’t want to be trapped upstairs). I’ve even been known to duct tape the openings.

  5. I too despite insects, thankfully my cat takes care of most of them for me. Not bees and wasps though, I just run away from those.

  6. haha–dying at your “dialogue” with the bugs. I do the same thing. I hurl expletives at bugs (and especially MICE–AGGHHGHHGH!) that would make the next door neighbors blush. I do this instead of squishing them, which makes me feel more humane.

  7. I used to be so afraid of bugs and I still do check and am always cautiously looking for them, but since discovering raid bug spray or spider spray i can seriously say i spray him then get someone to pick it up once dead, it used to take me 30 minutes to kill one spider. ugh so gross and never again!

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