Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Bugs of Summer: My Five Least Favorite

The horse flies, or B-52's, arrived this week.

They are big, lumbering and loud, and strike fear in horses, sheep and humans. I was bitten by one once, and I had a welt the size of a silver dollar on my thigh.

But while it stung, grew hot, swelled and itched, the B-52 sting didn't send me to the hospital.

That honor goes to the wasps... my least favorite bug of summer.

The wasps like to nest around pipe gates, horse trailers, manure spreaders, the portable sheep shed -- places where I frequently have my hands.

Unlike the B52's, the wasps are stealth stingers. When stung on the forearm, my hand swelled to Popeyean proportions even though I iced the sting and held my arm above my heart. The emergency room doc was impressed -- never a good sign.

Rounding out the Top Five Worst Bugs of Summer are the mosquitoes, house or stable flies, and fruit flies.

Because we usually have a breeze and because I'm an early bird, mosquitoes usually aren't much of a problem. But when the air is hot, still and humid, the mosquitoes whisper their arrival in my ears. They seem to find me when I'm picking berries, working in the garden, sitting on the back porch on a hot summer evening. "I'm going to get you. I'm going to get you," they say. I duck inside to avoid them.

The house or stable flies make my list because of their abundance and their bite. We live in an area heavily populated by factory farms housing chickens, hogs and turkeys ... and consequently, flies. When those hot, humid days arrive, the flies bite hard.

The fruit flies don't bite or buzz in my ears. They are just plentiful at this time of year, and always wanting to park themselves on tomatoes, apples, berries. When I see them, I am reminded of high school biology class, genetics and the fruit fly experiment. We used them because they reproduced so rapidly. And their rapid reproduction comes to mind when I see them parked on a tomato, a banana, an apple.

Other annoying bugs of summer? Ticks and green-headed flies.

Not making the list: spiders. Really, they don't annoy me. They weave their nests and often catch the bugs of summer. And sometimes, they also catch me.

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