Even in a tropical paradise there are bugs — big bugs, biting bugs, stinging bugs, pesky bugs. But it’s still paradise.
I never squished bugs when I was a kid. Not just because I disliked the sensation of their plump little bodies popping under my shoes but because the idea of their green guts exploding in every direction was repulsive to me. Another reason was — and still is — I kinda like bugs.
Good thing I spend the majority of my time on the Caribbean Island of Roatan, Honduras. Yes, we have bugs here! I get asked so many questions about bugs on Roatan that I posted a story about them at my website and I even gave bugs their own category Roatan Vortex Bugs.
Now, I will admit they can be quite annoying at times. I can never leave anything that vaguely resembles food on the counter for more than a minute or two, thanks to the tiny sugar ants that will come marching in to cart it away. I swear their itty-bitty bodies must be mostly made up of noses — they can sniff out a snack from a mile away. And for some reason unknown to me, they prefer WinterFresh toothpaste over FreshMint.
Then of course there are the mosquitoes buzzing around my head when I’m trying to sleep. Or making a quick landing on my toes while I’m reading a book or watching TV. Okay, I admit it — mosquitoes I will squish! I even keep score of how many I manage to annihilate on any given evening.
As for the bigger bugs, they qualifyy for a whole different level of respect. Recently I had an up-close and personal encounter with a tarantula. I had no idea that one (a rather large one) was hanging out on the ceiling beams in my loft bedroom, where I was watching TV from my bed. My first clue came when I felt something land on my head, then scurry away. Oh yeah, I did the heebie-jeebie dance when I caught sight of it on my headboard.
Once the hairs on the back of my neck and arms settled down, I took some pictures of the tarantula, and sent it on its way—outside!
I try to keep things in perspective when it comes to bugs for a few reasons:
One is that if I fear encountering them, I’d drive myself crazy! I’d have to leave Roatan. And even then, short of living in a glass box, with only filtered air coming in, and eating the food stuff fed to astronauts in outerspace, I still wouldn’t be able to avoid bugs.
Another reason is that bugs have a purpose!
I’m no scientist (by any means) so I don’t know the technicalities of it all. But I have watched in fascination as cutter-ants, strip a lime tree of it leaves, piece by piece. For a while that tree looks horrific, set against a backdrop of other foliage that is tropical and lush. But then the most amazing thing happens — within a few short weeks, new leaves begin to grow. I swear that once pathetic little lime tree is now putting on a better show … of full, healthy, glossy leaves compared to the neighbouring greenery.
Where I’m from in Canada, the seasonal changes take care of discarding the older spent leaves when they fall from the trees. Perhaps on Roatan, in the absence of seasons, the cutter ants are helping out.
I don’t think bugs are here to torment or scare me, and I’m sure they’d much prefer I left them alone so they could go about their business. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of having a house full of bugs, and do what I can to get them to leave.
The biggest challenge is when my Island dog Mona brings home some fleas. I’ve tried various chemical assaults on them, but found that the chemicals irritate Mona more than the fleas do. Regularly bathing her and a nightly combing with a flea comb seems to work the best.
The one bug that I haven’t mentioned yet is—the scorpion! I haven’t had one in my house for over a year now, and for that I am grateful. But I still check under my pillow every night, just in-case a scorpion decides to take a nap there. I even check under my pillow when I am in Canada. The odds of a scorpion showing up there is nil — but they have earned an extreme level of respect from me. And yes, I resort to chemical warfare with scorpions. I’m not proud of that, but I do apologize to them as they take their last breathes.
And as for my dog Mona—she knows to be respectful of big bugs too!
All photos © Genny Ross-Barons