Things that creep, crawl, scurry and buzz their way into our psyche are a part of daily life we cannot escape. If I were to attempt to discuss the entire insect world, it would take the better part of a lifetime to read this post. Instead, I will stick with a few species that are familiar in my neck of the woods and what I have learned about them through my years on this planet.
Without too much scientific mumbo jumbo, of course.
I will say, however, that it is estimated that there are at least ten quintillion insects currently inhabiting the Earth. And yet we’re the ones screaming about overpopulation with our measly six billion.
We’ll choose from this monolith a few species native to Virginia. Among the stinging insects we have honeybees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, paper wasps, yellow-jackets, hornets, and the Pièce de résistance, the Japanese Hornet.
Have you ever seen someone who was scared of a stinging insect? Get the two within close proximity and you’ll have a form of modern dance on your hands, never before witnessed by human eyes. Other than that, these various bees, wasps and hornets fly around, gathering nectar, killing other insects and making babies.
We will now slip into the depths reserved only for the dreaded Japanese Hornet. This beast has been known to kill at least forty people a year…In Japan. What we have in this country is the European Hornet, which is often mistaken for its violent Asian counterpart. And despite popular myths, the hornets that reside in the mid-Atlantic region are less aggressive and no more poisonous than smaller stinging insects. In fact, they will defend their nest vigorously only when provoked and have been known to retreat from human aggressors.
Onto the wonderful world of creepy-crawlies. Namely, the American Cockroach. Why the American Cockroach, you ask? Because among the four most common species (the German, the Asian, the Oriental and American) the American is the largest and lives the longest. Like the Oriental, it can also fly. And on top of all these reasons, this cockroach is an American cockroach. And as you may know, Virginia is in America.
Another tid-bit you may not know about our friend the cockroach: When decapitated, cockroaches can still survive for several weeks. If given nutrients and put in the refrigerator, the head can live even longer. This tells me one very important piece of information about this hearty insect: It’s stupid.
Have you ever seen someone who is scared of creepy-crawlies? They too, when in close proximity to one of these six-legged creatures, can create an interpretive dance that rivals even the best Russian ballerinas.
And last but not least, the piss-ant.
Well, there ain’t so such thing. The term can apply to any wood ant. The formic acid they excrete produces a urine-like odor, hence the name “piss-ant.”
Well there you have it. Our excursion through the Virginian insect world. …Hey! That gives me an idea for my next novel: A radioactive praying mantis mates with a twelve-legged bumble bee and produces an Americanized Japanese Hornet. I can see it now. Bestseller here I come!
Postscript: I bet you’re thinking “spiders would have been a good thing to include in this post.” But since they are actually arachnids, they just wouldn’t fit. And man oh man, talk about interpretive dance…