It dawned on me: What is bugging Dawn?

Dawn De Busk

Dawn De Busk

By Dawn De Busk

BN Columnist

Almost every Mainer has that moment in the middle of winter when they wishfully recall the warm days of summer.

I admit I do this despite the fact I absolutely adore wintertime. Funny thing, though those memories — similar to those fond recollections of the 1969 Ford half-ton truck that I sold before I left Alaska, the instant recalls are so much more cheery than hard core reality.

Always, I remember that truck with a little less rust on the body, and fewer nicks in the paint. The tires that roll into my memory banks have a bit more tread; and the desert sand hue is gleamingly appealing to the eye; and the engine starts with the first turn of the ignition.

Well, the same thing happens when I conjure up some memories of summer while I am standing kneecap deep in snow.

My mind has become keen at recalling the heat of sunshine on my skin, or the sounds of Sebago Lake’s waves greeting the shoreline and the chaotic chorus of seagulls, or the sweet scent of ferns and pines along the bank of Crooked River.

But, I totally forget about the bugs.

I spaced out the hornets, black flies, ticks, mosquitoes and those moths that dive bomb the yard light at night. I forgot about the persistent horse fly with a pinching bite that makes it difficult to keep my head above water when I swim near its hunting grounds.

Oh, if only some of those six or eight-legged crawly creatures didn’t come included with the package that is summer.

My major complaint: the tiny deer tick. This hitchhiking, disease-carrying arachnid deserves every critical word uttered about it. Did you know that when the tick in the woods is magnified in size, its arms and legs can be seen reaching out — stretching, waving, waiting to catch a ride? Ticks like to hitch a host on any passing deer, domestic dogs or humans.

A flush down the toilet is too good for those ticks. Instead, I take satisfaction in putting a flame to every single one that I find. I send them straight from the cuffs of my clothes to hell. I am not even sure that this minuscule arachnid has a soul. Therefore, my conscious is at peace whenever I eradicate another tick.

Thankfully, because mosquitoes lack a hard outer shell, they are much easier to squash. However, they receive the same focused, revenge-ridden death as the ticks do.

Long ago, growing up on lakefront property, which could best be described as wetlands, the leach was my mortal, mind-freaking enemy. Always, on the surface of our dock sat a big shaker of salt, which when poured on the leach would force it to remove its head.

Anyone standing within earshot would think my siblings and I were starring in our own “scream bloody murder” horror flick every time a leach was attached to us.

Oh my goodness, leaches are so tame in comparison to the deer tick. At least, a leach is easily seen. Plus, they don’t carry diseases. Additionally, despite the scene from African Queen, compilations of research on bloodletting fully support my theory — that leaches are preferable to ticks.

I do not despise the giant dock spiders either. In fact, I watch them with fascination and some sort of odd, distant love. Many aspects of the spider draw me closer, rather than repel me: The elaborate designs on their bodies, the patience with which they wait for prey, and the surreal quickness with which they can travel when so moved.

However, I would not be so keen if that spider crawling on me. (Studying things from a safe distance is sometimes a better strategy.)

Any ontologist will tell you about “beneficial bugs.” These are the insects that help make human life more bearable. Some great examples are the dragonfly, the damselfly, the ladybug, the honeybee, and the garden spider.

Not only do dragonflies eliminate pounds and pounds of irritating insects, but also the four-winged creature creates a spectacular air show. Have you ever poured your worries into a lawn chair as dusk neared, and simply watched the aerobatics of the dragonflies? Have you noticed how the dragonfly almost nips your nose yet eloquently misses contact as it devours biting bugs?

Watching dragonflies is an activity that totally topples shoveling snow while having memories of a summer without insects.

Another cinematic creature is the lightening bug. They seem to be around in late May through late June; and, their antics make for a heck of a light show. It’s particularly fun to predict the pattern the beetle will fly next. Its light gives away its location. A whole bunch of lightening bugs put plenty pizzazz in the air. And, it’s for a limited time only.

Likewise, Luna moths have a brief lifespan. Viewing that insect is like flipping to the sci-fi channel. Maybe, these winged insects were sent from another planet. Maybe, the Luna moth evolved from the nighttime fairy.

So, as the fair temperatures of summer envelope the landscape, don’t forget to take in the reality — both pleasant and not so pleasant — of this region’s insect life.

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