Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fear Factor: Cicadas vs. Roaches

I don't know if you were able to get a decent look at the cicada in that video I shot of Smokey flinging himself around the porch, but if you were, you saw that it is a pretty darn big bug. Chunky. Solid. Not the sort of bug that makes a *tic* if it flies into your window, but a *THUNK*. And it makes a nasty sort of clattering against the floor when it winds up on its back and tries to turn over. In fact, while I was out on the porch in my bare feet filming our little version of Wild Kingdom, I had the thought tiptoe through my head that these cicadas weren't so different from *gasp* roaches.

But it makes a nifty loud noise and I forgive it. So why do I have a tremendous fear of roaches?

Well, it's simple. Roaches are the physical embodiment of evil. They're two-dimensional so when they sense fear they can chase you through non-existent cracks. They stand for everything nasty and gross in the world.

I keep thinking I must have had some horrible experience as a small child to have developed such a nightmarish fear. I grew up in Florida so it's actually pretty likely. If you have a fear of roaches, you shouldn't live in the South. Or in an old house. Especially not in an old house in the South.

Guess where I live?!

I guess things are better than they used to be. As a child I was so sensitive to them that I could smell when one was in the same room with me. People would scoff when I froze and turned slowly, scanning the floor saying, "There is a ROACH in here" in the same tones that someone uses to announce the presence of a poltergeist. And then they would see the creature from hell scuttling along the baseboard. Take that, scoffers! [Note: the palmetto bug (or Florida woods cockroach) is known for the smell it gives off when it's disturbed. Considering palmetto bugs can be 2 inches long I think *I* was more likely to be disturbed than the bug!]

I always felt like climbing was the way to go. My college roommate came home one day to find me perched precariously on the back of the couch (which was not against a wall) having been treed there by a persistent roach who was sitting on the rug looking at me. I had only been there for about 20 minutes. I remember "Guiding Light" wasn't over yet. She calmly slaughtered the beast and disposed of the corpse so I could climb back down. I might have reacted better at the time but it had actually touched my foot as I sat on the couch. Physical contact was enough to give me a combined stroke and heart attack.

The day I saw a roach fly for the first time (heck, I always assumed those wings were decorative) I realized I would never be truly safe again. So much for climbing to escape.

[No photos were able to be included for this post because it might have upset the sensitivities of the author.]


  1. Absolute, total agreement here!
    I'm a PA girl, born and raised, and you only get roaches up here if you are D-I-R-T-Y. So when we had to move to NC when my husband was in the military (and I was pregnant with our oldest), the fact that those palmetto bugs just... show up? Oh my gosh. Every time I'd see one I'd cry (pregnancy hormones, maybe?). And porch lights? We use those up here, you know, when we go out after dark. What's the point down South? All of those *swarming* things! With huge wings! Noisy, huge wings!

    I told my husband he might get me to Siberia, but I cannot possibly ever live South of the Mason-Dixon line again!

    So I'll climb on the back of the couch with you and leave the roach removal to some braver souls!


  2. Yep, this far south it doesn't matter how clean you are, how much money you make, anything. If you live down here, you fight roaches. Now, granted, if you DO have a dirty house (leave food out, etc.) you will be overrun, but even the most scrupulous housekeepers are going to screech now and then. (You can go out on the porch in the winter after dark, but the summer...)

  3. I slept with cotton balls in my ears as a kid for fear of roaches crawling in. Gory stories of roaches were better than ghost stories for instilling fear?

    Now, Matushka, how old were you when you first saw one fly? I can't remember a time of not knowing they could fly (part of the terror)!

    And finally, the thing I most loved about moving north was the lack of roaches. My daughters' great fear here is the centipede!

  4. I had probably seen them fly before and not known what I was looking at (and my parents kindly didn't burst my bubble). The first time I saw one fly and knew what it was I was in HIGH SCHOOL. Yes, I was innocent that long. I went out for a night swim in the pool and rounded the corner by the house where there was a security light and saw something flying with the moths that wasn't a moth. I watched it and when it landed...I think I screamed and ran. biggie. (c;

    As a child when we stayed at the beach house for months at at time I remember the unspoken rule of "shake out your shoes before you put them on".

  5. THEY FLY?? *shudder* I am totally scared of flying insects. Cicadas are my worst nightmare. I was in college during the last Brood X here and my mom and I came home from shopping once and we ran from the car into the house. (A routine we did the entire summer) and we got in the house and heard that horrible, eerie groaning sound. And O M G there was a cicada under the bottom of the back of my mom's shirt. I was totally thinking "better her than me" but we started both screaming and I pushed her back outside and she flipped her shirt out and I actually used my hand to swipe and fling out it and we slammed the door shut. It was one of the "bravest" moments of my life! LOL ;)
    I told my husband right after we got married that when the next Brood X comes we had better saved up enough money to go on a vacation for the whole summer. Maybe visit the relatives in eastern europe? He agreed to it! Ain't no way I'm staying here for that again! ;)

  6. I haven't seen a roach in about 20 years, but to this day I am still inclined to sleep with the covers over my head for fear that a roach will fall from the ceiling onto my face!...I grew up with tons of roaches and always covered my entire body with the covers at night...Kelly is right about roach stories instilling more fear than ghost stories!

  7. You girls are making me want to stay up north with all of these stories of roaches in the south :-)


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