Summer is officially here. Kids are off from school, beaches are open, the smell of BBQ is in the air, oh, and kids are off from school. After a few hours of fun in the sun with my brood, I had several ideas for this week’s topic. Topping the list were nervous breakdowns, the many reasons for self-medicating with alcohol and the long-term benefits of sleep-away camp. In an effort to avoid revealing too many of my maternal failings, I opted instead for bugs. While I don’t have entomophobia (love throwing in a big word now and then), I have a strong dislike for bugs. I saw the Bee Movie. I know we need insects to keep the ecological balance in check. Still, I wish I could keep them out of my drinks, away from my yard and off my kids. It is a lot like knowing we need to tap alternate sources of energy, but not wanting to look at an ugly solar panel in my neighborhood. It may be hypocritical but I will swat at anything that moves.
Here is why some bugs deserve to be on your hit list.
- Bees – The most annoying thing about bees is the tendency they have to elevate a little girl’s scream from irritating to intolerable. If stung by a bee, most people will have a mild, local inflammatory reaction. It is estimated that about 2 million people are actually allergic to stinging insects. The reaction can range from mild to life-threatening. Between 50-100 people die each year from insect stings in America.
- Mosquitos – More than annoying, mosquitos can carry diseases such as West Nile virus, dengue fever and malaria.
- Spiders – When in doubt, I say spider-bite – they occur more frequently than you may think. In our area, spider bites can result in redness, swelling, and local necrosis or death of skin tissue. The spider encountered on the Brady Bunch’s family vacation to Hawaii was much more dangerous. As long as you stay local and don’t pick up any misfortune bearing tiki demi-gods, you should be fine.
- Ticks – Like spiders, ticks are arthropods and there are hundreds of different species worldwide. There are many tick-borne diseases including Lyme disease, babesiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Your risk of contracting a tick-borne illness is based largely on geography and length of time it takes you to notice the tick enjoying an all you can eat special on your skin.
- Flies – The most aptly named of all the insects, there are many different types of flies. Houseflies don’t bite humans but the buzzing in your ear is just as irritating. They are dirty little beasts, which is fairly obvious from the disreputable places where they hang out. Stock up on swatters because they carry all kinds of diseases, parasitic, viral and bacterial. Some flies, like horse flies, sand flies and deer flies bite. You can tell they are biting flies because it hurts.
I have to stop writing now because I am too busy scratching to type. More important than knowing what little buggers are feeding on you, is how to keep them away. Prevention tomorrow – do bug sprays work? Are they safe? Will Listerine keep mosquitos away? Stay tuned.