There are so many things that I love about nature. I have always had an affinity for water. I love to look at it, sit by it, and if it’s warm and relatively clean, I love to swim in it. I am awed by the power of wind and fascinated by the constantly changing sky. I am an amateur photographer, and look upon my surroundings through my camera’s perspective, finding beauty in most every landscape. That being said, most people who know me wouldn’t peg me for a “Nature Girl.”
The Origins Of My Insectophobia
While I love to look at nature, I have a pretty strong aversion to bugs (spiders, ticks, and mosquitoes, in particular). I am reluctant to do things that might cause me to come in contact with those nasty critters. I have good reasons for my aversion, which began with my brother and sister rubbing a dead spider on the bottom of a shoe in my hair when we were young (eeew!), and has continued through ghastly moments of bug encounters throughout my life.
Case in point: My spider garden. Yes, that’s what we really call it. About 10 years ago, we bought mulch and soil for our landscaping. The soil was a blend of manure and compost, which produced gigantic flowers and veggies. I believe that the soil or the mulch that I laid on top it was laced with Wolf Spider eggs. The result was like a science fiction movie. Huge flat webs spread across my shrubbery that bellowed in the breeze, like the fake webs you buy for Halloween. And the spiders (shiver). Did you know that Wolf Spiders are in the Tarantula family? They create little hidey-holes in their webs and POP out to grab their unsuspecting prey (and scare the life out of me). In the spring, Wolf Spiders are small. But by late August, they grow to the size of dinner plates. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but they are big. I have tried everything to get rid of them, but the spiders keep coming back.
As long as I’m rambling about my spider garden, let me also add that I suspect the arachnid-friendly environment of my soil has created a bigger, smarter, faster hybrid of the Wolf Spider. When I spot a spider running in my soil, I step on it. I grind my foot in the soil. I jump on it. When I remove my foot, the spider springs back up and keeps on trucking. It’s bionic. While gardening last year, a huge Wolf Spider lumbered out of the rocks onto my driveway, stopped and faced me. I moved a step to the left. The spider moved an inch to the left. I moved to the right, and so did the spider. Freaked out, I wondered if the spider was going to start talking like Clint Eastwood, challenging me to “Go ahead punk, make my day.” When Clint the Spider started to walk slowly toward me, I pulled out my trusty can of Raid and pulled the trigger. A real Mexican Standoff. In my spider garden. I was faster. Ka-POW!
But wait, there’s more… My daughter brought home a potted plant from school as a part of science experiment. At the time, we did not know that the plant had a spider egg in the soil. When it hatched, thousands of tiny baby spiders poured into my daughter’s bedroom, all over her bed and her stuffed animals. After about 3 panic attacks and a visit from the exterminator, I spent the next two weeks sucking up spiders (and the next year looking for them).
Last camping season, I found a tick embedded in my daughter’s scalp. My son neglected to put on mosquito repellent and went fishing in the weeds wearing jeans and flip-flops. He later returned with at least 30 bug bites. Delighted by the novelty of being about to put her head out outside while in the overhead cabin, my daughter kept opening the RV windows, signaling all mosquitos in a 5 mile radius that she is available for a late night snack. She awoke to 40 or so huge, swollen bites all over her face and body. And since she is allergic to mosquito bites, they blister and bruise her skin. I could go on, but I have a case of the heebie-jeebies and I fear I’m giving them to you, as well.
Loving Nature (On My Terms)
Realizing that bugs are a part of nature, I relucantly accept them so we can all enjoy the camping experience. I don’t let my insectophobia slow me down (too much). I enjoy taking walks (on the pavement) and like to hike (on well-established trails). And my favorite moments in life involve sitting by the lake and reading a book as the sun rises or sets. A close second is sitting with my family around the campfire (in both instanes, I am armed to the teeth with mosquito repellent).
RVing offers the perfect blend of a way to escape into nature while also enjoying the creature comforts on my own terms (without the creatures).
Are you an insectophobe? Or do you have an insectophobe in your life? How do you handle bug phobias while camping?