Bugs in Arizona

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I was born in the NE, lived a great deal of my life in the Pacific Northwest, and now live comfortably just outside of Phoenix, Arizona. I am the only member of my immediate family not to live in the same town back East and while I miss them terribly, Arizona suits me. I do not enjoy driving in snow, shoveling in snow, or living with constant drizzle and gray skies. I inherited from my grandparents a passion for sunny days and bright blue skies.

I remember watching my grandfather, well into his 80s, take a lawn chair outside on warm spring days and lay in the sun just to soak it up and tan his skin. He was a gorgeous man with a beautiful heart and I would never have considered him to be vain in the slightest. He simply loved the sun and the warmth and how it made his Hungarian skin a dark, golden brown.

I think there’s some of that in me and I have spent countless hours in the summer laying outside with a book or simply doing nothing at all, casually relaxed on a lawn chair. The best part of doing that in Arizona is that I get to do it by a pool because, frankly, it truly is difficult to live here without one.

Because we have more than 300 days of sunshine here, I literally live outdoors when I am not at work. I have an office set up on my patio. In fact, as I type this, the laptop and I are outside at the patio table, the crickets are chirping, it’s dark outside but a pleasant 70 some degrees, and the dog is at my feet. It’s quiet. No TV, no music, no talking, no ringing phone – the noises that plague me all day.

As is often the case, however, we trade one “plague” for another. Perhaps that’s a bad choice of words, considering the latest scare of the swine flu, but it’s still appropriate. While I might enjoy the most wonderful peace and quiet outdoors, I am now in the direct flight path of every bug in Arizona who believes my patio lights are the sun and are completely deluded as to their being welcome here by me.

There are some that are annoying, but manageable. Little gnats and mosquitoes. I can bat those away. There are the damn crickets that will only get thicker with summer’s heat but at least don’t jump on you and run when you feign a step their way. I don’t particularly like the little, hard-shelled black bugs that like to crawl on the patio ceiling and then suddenly drop down on your arm as if they lost their footing. You can flick them away.

The ones I don’t like? Those freaking, flying cricket things. Yes, I should probably have figured out their real name by now, but I’m hoping some day they’ll just disappear and never show up again. I swear they’re the size of a hummingbird and they have absolutely no sense of direction. They end up trapped on the patio after heading for the lights and then slap themselves endlessly against the ceiling looking for a way back out to open skies. They’re so thick you can hear them immediately, whacking themselves along the wall or down the screen door. And they don’t care what they hit on the way. “Whap!” as they accidentally smack into the side of your head. No respect of space. Even a dull moth would at least avoid your personal area and float around you. Not these bat-bird-moths (as I’ve begun to call them).

When one enters the patio, I have to stop working. I can’t focus with the goober flying around me and I’m all tense about whether or not it will come near me or run into me. I keep a broom right next to me and the dog knows that if I head for that broom, we’re going bug hunting. I may look like a whirling dervish chasing that thing around with the broom, but I’ve become pretty adept at batting them out of the area.

Maybe you’re sitting there, confused, thinking to yourself, “Umm…didn’t she say she was in Arizona? Aren’t there worse bugs in Arizona? A flying cricket thing has her all wound up?” Yes, there are certainly worse bugs in Arizona. Tarantulas. I’ve never seen one here. There was a GIANT wood spider once on a tree outside. That was a bit freaky but that happened only the once. Scorpions. Hate ’em, but I’ve only come across about 10 and none of us have ever been stung (knock on wood). Black widows. I’ve seen four and they were never in the house.

So, all you bugs, respect my space and we’ll manage. Fly into my head, darn it, and you’re fair game!