The dangerous world of bugs

 In The dangerous world of bugs

The dangerous world of bugs

Written by
Gail Hamwi

The bugs of South Mississippi are teeming. Warm winters and humid springs breed an abundance of Mother Nature’s small set. Their organization, unique snares, protective devices, and adaptability are definitely intriguing.

That being said – what annoying pains they are – delivering microscopic skin irritants, carrying scary fevers and rashes, and, like terrorists, taking aim at our plants, food supplies, and even our sleeping quarters. Malaria, Lyme disease, plague – ugh!

I wasn’t always so disenchanted with them. As a child I loved insects. For me they had their place in nature and I held no grudges despite bites and stings. Diseases weren’t on my radar. I had live insect collections and maintained their appropriate environments, provided exercise (really), and even fed my praying mantis despite the ghastly nature of its feast.

But then insects meant grasshoppers, friendly and fun. It meant the spider, scary, but a masterful web designer leaving its craft here and there for all to admire. The darling lightning bug was night’s enchantment.

We had huge ants, both black and red, that had wars in grass and on walkways. Massive ant armies, like gladiators, would battle unto death. Sometimes remnants of the struggle could be seen in the dewy morning grass. These encounters were great theater to children passing by.

There were no insect multitudes exerting power. We could roll in the grass, leave cookies uncovered, and stay outdoors for hours without intrusions from swarms and colonies.

My relationship with bugs began to sour during my first evenings in the Mississippi twilight where an array of insects from fuchsia-colored beetles, jumping kinds of winged things and miniature dinosaurs, seemingly, pranced and flitted through the night air. Roaches the size of cats, invisible chiggers and biting flies added to my rising hysteria.

Here we pay for being sub-tropical with a buggy existence the likes of which I had never seen before entering this balmy clime.

Slowly though, I have grown immune, toughened and stopped shrieking and sniveling. I take measures to hinder the populations of intruders. I can even assist little ones who get trapped in my house or windows, lifting them gently onto a paper and placing them tenderly on a leaf. After all, there are some good fellows among the fiends.

Despite this truce, I remain alert, no longer naively chasing lightning bugs, having learned that a world of hurt can come with lacy wings and colorful camouflage.

Gail Hamwi lives in Hattiesburg and can be reached at

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