Ciao: With all these bugs around, is there room for the rest of us?

BILL KLAUBER

What’s with all of the news stories these days about bugs and other creepy crawling creatures?

Recently there has a been a rash of stories about bugs on the loose, including bed bugs which, by themselves, can cause quite a rash, or so I’m told.

So let me take the bed bugs as a starter although I would prefer not to take them at all.

A recent article quoted an emergency room doctor as saying, “There’s nothing inherently dangerous about bed bugs.” I’d feel greatly relieved, but the doctor who said that works at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and we all know that Bellevue is where all the buggy people go including, perhaps, the doctors.

But bed bugs are not the only insects on the loose. There are the termites which rather than sucking blood like to feast on wood. And in numbers, their feasts can become banquets and if there is a full house banquet, they can bring down the whole house, literally. To terminate their feast you had better call an exterminator.

Let’s look at the kudzu bugs, although as ugly as they are, I would rather not. Apparently the kudzu plants in certain parts of the country are being overrun by a bug known as megacopta cribari which I am certain is no relation to the Famiglia Cribari vineyards, although they might be kudzu bug victims.

By now you must be bug eyed with bugs. I know I am. So let’s turn our attention to lice, those pesky parasites that suck more blood from humans in one night than Count Dracula could drink in a year. And things can get especially hairy when they invade your hair. And don’t forget that lice is plural for louse, which should not be confused with the guy (or gal) you know who is perpetually nasty or crabby.

And speaking of crabs, which is timely since the stone crab season has just begun. There are also hard shell crabs, soft shell crabs, Dungeness crabs and even fiddler crabs, the tiny crustaceans which can be found along many of our beaches and with which we shouldn’t fiddle.

Another inhabitant of our beaches is the snail which, like the crab, also comes in numerous varieties. There is the French crab and certainly there is nothing more tasty than a plate of escargots soaked in a garlic butter sauce.

But there are other forms of snails, not nearly as tempting or as appetizing as those one can find on the menus of venues of cuisine francaise. One such snail, the African snail, can extract revenge by turning the table on diners and other homo sapiens because they can eat more than 500 types of plants.

Florida seems to have attracted African snails in numbers greater even than the numbers of northerners migrating down from the rust belt. Like some local motel rooms, the African snail can grow to eight inches in length and more than four inches in diameter.

Also like some motel guests they can cause structural damage to plaster and stucco.

I guess if I devoured a sufficient quantity of escargots accompanied by a bottle or two of a good French burgundy, I, too, could crash into a wall with sufficient force to damage the plaster and stucco.

Bed bugs, termites, lice, crabs, snails, homo sapiens. Sounds like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom all sharing one globe.

Maybe Al Gore has it right about global warming, as inconvenient a truth as that may be.

Ciao!

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