Bad Ass Adulting in Entomo Season

Posted: 27th March 2017 by admin in Blog
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A Facebook post from last spring:

Somewhere in a parallel universe, there’s a bug version of Criminal Minds playing out and investigators are standing over dismembered centipedes saying, “Given this level of overkill, this is clearly the work of a centipeda-cidal maniac.” Yes. Arrest me now.

I make no exoskeletons about my centipede phobia. I’ve written about it before. Unless you share this phobia, you may have no idea how difficult it is to maintain an image of being a bad ass while shrieking and coming all from-gether (the opposite of TOgether). It’s been a while since I worried about the Lesbian Association of the Midwest—fondly known as LAM in these parts– dispatching Spike the tow truck driver to show up at my house, run a big hook through my LAM membership card, and repossess it due to my bug related meltdowns.

It’s that time of year again. Centipede season. As a person who detests any critter with more than four legs and fewer than two, you can imagine how well this sits with me. I’m still dealing with last season.

Try to get a visual. I arrived home from a late meeting and Chip, my 100-pound Black Lab mix, was snoozing on the end of my bed. Channeling my inner bad ass, I melted as I always do when Chip is in sleepy-gentle mode instead of his typical bull-in-a-china-shop mode. I leaned on the bed, ruffling his ears and smoothing his fur speckles. He made a contented sound and stretched. I petted him for a minute or so, then I straightened up with the intention of prodding him off the bed so I could get into it, as he tends to take up most of it. Grabbing a handful of blanket and top sheet, I flipped the covers back.

An enormous centipede, maybe four inches long, ran out of the sheets and down the bed. It was not a regular centipede. Those are maybe an inch long and kind of grey. This was huge and sort of red and gold. It was bug royalty.

Grabbing for the first thing I could use a weapon, I realized quickly there wasn’t a lot I could do with Chip’s tail. On a good day, Chip’s tail is a marvel, sweeping table tops clear and leaving cylindrical bruises on my shinbones. At that moment, it did nothing for me. So I grabbed a sneaker. I knocked the dodgy little bastard off my bed and proceeded to beat him to a pile of extra legs and an occasional jerky kick. Here, I am referring to the centipede, not Chip. I’d be more likely to refer to Chip as a dodgy big bastard.

Okay. I handled it. Not well, but I did handle it. THAT was disgusting.

I paced the house, unsettled, entomophobia in full gear. I had no interest in going to get into THAT bed anymore, even as tired as I was and even though it gnawed at my bad ass-ness. Chip relocated to the living room, apparently unrattled by my prowling from window to window, peeking out to see if the LAM tow truck was slinking down my driveway. It took an hour or so, but I managed to clear the buggy energy from my room and was able to go to bed.

When I woke the next morning, I knew that the house was simply not big enough for me and any random entomo. They had to go. I suited up for buggy battle, armed with some fabulous Bug X. I swept the entire first floor, chuckling to myself. Take THAT, entomos!

But I wasn’t quite done. This situation required MORE. It required the ultimate in bad ass home ownership skills. The next morning, I suited up again, attaching a sprayer of outdoor Bug X to the hose and spraying the outside of the whole house, paying close attention to windows and doors.  I was careful to shoo the bees away so they were not in the direct path of Bug X. I like bees. They do not fall in the phobia category.

I felt quite proud of myself as I finished up the last side of the house. Bring on the adulting skills. I was ready. I turned the water off and started to unscrew the sprayer attachment.

It didn’t occur to me in all of my bad ass adulting that I should relieve some of the pressure in the hose before I unscrewed it. On the second twist, the remaining pressure forced water to erupt between the threads, spraying backwards according to some unknown (at least to me) rule of physics. Or maybe it was just Murphy’s law. He was a good Irishman. He would understand these things.

I was instantly drenched from head to legs. In pesticide.

The sprayer flew out of my hand and I bobbled the hose in surprise, soaking my jeans and sneakers with cold water. It was one of the moments where you stand there dripping (and don’t try to tell me that you NEVER stand around dripping) and you think, “That did NOT just happen.”

I blinked through the mist. As I watched droplets of pesticide drip off my shirt and I spit vehemently into the evergreen shrub, the next thing that crossed my mind was, “Somebody needs to clean this mess up.” Since I was doing this alleged adulting, that could only be me.

I figured I should go get out of my pesticide soggy clothes. But first I would clean up. Should I go to the ER? No, I should get this off my skin. Skin? I spit into the evergreen shrub again. Skin?!  I got it in my mouth! Oh!

The folks at Poison Control are very nice, just in case you’ve ever wondered.

“Have you noticed any twitching?”


“It’s a neurotoxin. If you start twitching, you should get to the ER right away.”

Oooookay. That’s helpful. Spraying oneself with a neurotoxin can take so much fun out of adulting!

It turned out that I didn’t twitch. A couple of weeks later, I received a letter of commendation from LAM citing me for courage and going above and beyond the call of duty for my efforts to create an entomo-free zone while actively engaging in bee-shoo-ing.

Out of curiosity, I looked up some info on an exterminator website. Do you know if you have a significant problem with centipedes, you can lay down glue traps to track their traffic and see where they are most active? It’s not considered a solution really, because the dodgy little bastards will simply leave a few legs behind on the glueboard and go about their business of scaring people senseless and grow new legs! When I read that, I stared at the laptop screen thinking, “And how does THIS help me? Now I KNOW there’s a centipede in here somewhere—probably running in circles because it has more legs on one side than on the other—but I don’t know where it is.”

Still I congratulated myself on successful adulting and bad ass-ness and a lack of twitching. Until I saw the next one. THAT made me twitch. By then, I was calling the LAM headquarters and requesting that Spike swing by and pick up my membership ‘cause I couldn’t take another drenching in entomo spray. Right after I called the exterminator company and requested a special home visit.

I knew my reputation was slipping when the exterminator company rep showed up and said, “I hear you got some nasties.”

And all I could think to say back was, “Hold me?”

Spike would be mortified.

It’s Dodgy Little Bastard season again. All you bad asses out there, be careful!


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