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Bugs and hazmat suits






Since my backyard is still covered in treacherous snow, I was meditating on my garden to be and all its future residents. Specifically the uninvited kinds, even if they’re beneficial. More specifically, bugs, spiders and… worms. Confession time, I have a borderline phobia regarding all of the above and have spent quite a bit of time fretting over the balance of my desire for fresh picked vegetables against my deep conviction that things that slither, creep and crawl are all out to get me.


I wasn’t always like this, I distinctly remember fishing with worms as a pre-schooler with my older cousin, and getting a kick out of daddy long-legs ginormous legs when one chanced to come by the playground. I don’t even have a great traumatic story that forever instilled the fear of these creatures, unless they’re SO traumatic that I’ve suppressed them. Hah. I do though have a ton of stories of my unconscious being much quicker than my conscious mind when it comes to reacting to imminent threats to my life. Like the time I discovered that ‘my feet grew into the ground’ is not just an idle expression but an utter truth.  It was after a summer downpour and a friend and I were ready to go out. Upon exiting the house my feet did exactly what I thought was a literary term, and planted so hard into the ground I waved my arms around trying not to face plant into the sidewalk. While I was flailing and pondering if I was struck with some muscle ailment I realized that right in front of me was a big fat wriggling worm desperately trying to crawl across the patio stone.  I had no clue my brain was that quick at assessing the situation, and clearly going ‘aw, hell nah – that’s as close as you get’.  I still have NO idea why worms? What did they ever do to me? At least some people share the spider predilection, although I doubt many would be willing to crash a vehicle to avoid one dangling from their rearview mirror and descending evilly down. If it wasn’t for my hysterically laughing friend who dispatched the small but aggressive invader the accident may not have been preventable. Now I scan the cars thoroughly in case one should lurk in some corner.  You know, just waiting to pounce. And eat me.


Now, thankfully I’m not afraid of some insects, otherwise this garden proposition would remain exactly one big fantasy. I am not afraid of wasps, bees, or anything with wings. I’m not afraid of slugs or caterpillars and I only experience mild disgust at beetles, aphids, crickets, etc.  I actively like lizards, snakes and other scaly things and rodents, bunnies and mammals in general are pretty cute. So in order to make this garden a reality, I’m implementing a variety of measures to protect myself from accidental contact with what I’m sure are nature’s little mistakes.


First there will be minimal skin exposure, we’re talking long pants, socks, shoes, long-sleeved shirts, gloves. It would not be extreme to say that I’ve considered a full on Tyvek haz-mat suit, but rejected it for aesthetic reasons. Secondly there will be the judicious spray of OFF of some bug repellent equivalent, although my experience has been that spiders are too dumb to be repelled by it.  I may not get any sun this summer, but I’ll certainly prevent a spider bite. Shudder. I’m sure there will be an inevitable amount of trowel flinging while involuntary screams scare the neighborhood children at the sight of something slithering, crawling or heck, sleeping, but I am also a big believer in the power of desensitization so hopefully by August either the neighborhood or me will be somewhat desensitized.




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