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Bug of the Day

Vieques, Puerto Rico

John grew up in New Orleans. He’s been through a lot hurricanes and tropical storms. He understands hurricane preparation, as well as hurricane recovery. One of the things he tried to get me ready for, after Maria, is a major infestation of BUGS!

Man O’ Man, was he right. We are covered in flying and crawling varmints and his racket “zapper” is doing over time.

This morning, as I was making coffee, John stepped to the screened door with his zapper in one hand and bug spray in the other. He stood there for a second and then exclaimed to the insect population of Vieques:

“Bring it on. I’m ready for you. Who’s it gonna be? Who’s gonna be the BUG OF THE DAY???”

Now if I were a bug, I’d make a hasty exit and steer clear of this man. He’s dangerous when it comes to insect annihilation. But the vermin population evidently weren’t phased in the least by his challenge. There’s a reason they are called “pests.” They’ve pestered us incessantly, since right after Hurricane Maria.

So, we’ve conducted a little contest to see which group of flying or crawling pests really “bugs” us the most. Here’s the top five that compete daily for the odious, honorific title of Bug of the Day:

5th Place: Termites

About two weeks after the hurricanes, we started noticing flying bugs with large opaque wings. Having grown up in Texas and Louisiana, we know what termites look like, and sure enough, we’re seeing them here. We found it strange because the house we’re sitting is made of cement and steel, hardly a feast for wood munchers.

The most irksome thing about this flying pest is that they seem to shed their wings, scattering them all over the floor.

4th Place: Gnats

These tiny black flying menaces give a new meaning to the word bug. These don’t bite. They don’t even bother food much. But they really like to just “bug” people, especially at night around lights. They seem to be attracted to light-colored surfaces that have a flashlight shown on them, like pages of a book.

We’ve been doing a lot of reading during our storm recovery time and these zooming critters really enjoy messing with the type on a printed page. One night I just gave up trying to read as a swarm of them, much like Disney’s Fantasia hippos, proceeded to perform Swan Lake on the page of my book. I’ve been to the ballet. Not interested in bug dancers.

3rd Place: Ants

It doesn’t matter if you have fogged with atomic, nuclear ant bombs, if there is even a drop of any sugary substance left on the counter, it will attract ants after a hurricane. The tough thing about ants is that there are millions of them. No, there’s a gazillion million of them. And, they are organized. Their lines are straighter than a ranked drum corps.

They only thing to slow them down, other than keeping our kitchen aseptically clean are the Terro Liquid Ant Traps. The Terro folks have declared war on ants and have created a remarkable product that does the trick.

We have noticed that the hurricanes have made the Vieques ants a bit crazy (just like the rest of us). Their lines are not nearly as straight and they often scurry around like they are lost. This is a very, very good thing!

2nd Place: Flies

Neither one of us has ever lived in a place that didn’t have flies. In fact, I’m not so sure that there is such a place on the planet. I think that the hordes of flies that we are seeing now must have been riding Maria like a roller coaster, because we never had a fly infestation to this extent before. They are everywhere.

John has looked all over the island for fly traps. No joy! He did find some twirly strips that hang from the ceiling, and of course, we do have the good old-fashioned fly swatter.

We’ve started a new game. The one who kills the most flies in a day is relieved from water hauling duties for the next day. My biceps are getting a good workout because I’m not nearly as fast at swatting or zapping as John.

1st Place: Mosquitoes

No surprise here, huh? The worst thing about mosquitoes is that they leave their calling cards in the form of itchy red welts. And, they are smart. They seem to hone in on the exact inch of skin that has not be slathered in repellent or covered by clothing.

The other night John came to bed and found me completely covered with the sheet, so that only my nose was showing. He thought I must be sick or something, because it was a pretty hot night.

I told him that I was under my magic invisibility sheet. You become invisible to mosquitoes when under it.

He gave me his infamous “Seriously?” glare, used his zapper to kill a few more pests flying around the bedroom, then turned out his flashlight and hurriedly jumped under the cover with me.

Harry Potter and his cloak doesn’t even come close.


The insects of Vieques are camera shy so Anel had to “toon” them for this post.

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2017,Puerto Rico

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