A Tired Older Woman Goes Bug Eyed

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

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Okay, now I’m worried.  As those of you who follow this blog know, we barely experienced winter here in the D.C. area, and now spring has chosen to say goodbye to us early.  I lived in the South for most of my life, and I’m here to raise the alarm.  The months ahead are going to find most folks up here in the North involved in an unaccustomed, all-out war!

“What can you possibly be talking about?” you ask, surprised by my strident tone.

I’m talking about the bugs that are preparing even now to invade our homes and our getaway cottages.  Believe me, I know.

What?  Did I hear someone way in the back cry out that they doubted my credentials?  Well, then, let me go back in time a little for you.

As a young child in Columbus, Ohio, I don’t recall ever being troubled by bugs, either inside of The Double as we referred to the duplex our young family shared with my paternal grandmother and great-aunt or without it.  Then we moved when I was six to East Tennessee.

Here I was introduced to all kinds of hitherto unbeknownst to me flora and fauna.  Spending much of my time out of doors, I experienced my fair share of mosquito bites and, when hiking in the Cumberlands or the Smokeys, an occasional round of delightful little critters called chiggers.

Twice ticks latched onto my scalp while I was primitive camping with Brownie Troop #13 at Camp Friendship, probably because I had passed beneath the low hanging limbs of one of the dogwoods that were prevalent in the area – trees that commonly harbor these blood-sucking insects.  The smoke from an extinguished match expertly drifted in their direction by Father quickly dispatched these intruders from my person, they apparently preferring to walk away from their meal to dying of smoke inhalation.

Then I grew up and married a dear man, promising to follow him anywhere.  Unfortunately, his career in retail management required our family to move from one location to another all over the Deep South, mostly in areas resting below what is commonly referred to as the dreaded Gnat Line.

Now, I can’t give you the exact latitude of the G Line as southerners frequently refer to it, but it roughly divides the states of the Deep South, running from Baton Rouge, Louisiana through Montgomery, Alabama and from there all the way to Savannah.  Basically, the line forms where the frosts stop and warmer winters begin.  Do you get where I’m going with this?

Yes, the cooler breezes of southern winters do slow the gnats down a bit or at least keep them at bay, but for a full nine months of each year these tiny flying insects seem to do nothing but proliferate, until finally there are enough to provide a tiny cloud around the head of anyone who ventures outside of a building.

While some of them do bite, most of them are quite friendly, greeting the uninitiated as soon as they leave their front doorway.  Haven’t you ever wondered why southerners always appear to be waving at each other as they pass on a sidewalk in snippets on nightly news shows?  The fact is they can’t even see each other for the dense clouds of tiny insects that surround their heads and necks like some kind of motion-filled aura.  Oh, for some sort of mechanized horse tail!

And the women…  If you’re the praying sort, please remember them.  The hair spray required to maintain a proper bouffant hairdo acts like a pheromone to the tiny already overbreeding gnats.  Why there are some who claim to have seen blondes turn into brunettes within a couple of seconds of having ventured outside for a breath of fresh air.  Would I tease you now?

I can’t tell you how happy I was to be told that I now needed to wear glasses when I turned forty, for the new lens would at least form a small barrier between my eyes and the pests.  But then, I discovered that if one penetrated the area between my glasses and my eyeballs, their brains were too small to allow them to find their way out again.

This, I will now share with you, is why southerners always seem to have shiny eyebrows.  No, dear, this is not now, nor has it ever been, a sign of robust good health.  It’s the sheen left from the liberal application of a gel insect repellent.

Rethinking your summer vacations plans?  There’s no need to if you’re going to land on one of the many southern beaches.  Ocean breezes will take care of you, blowing the unwanted flying insects away.

If you’re heading more inland, then here is your new plan.  As soon as you arrive at your destination – even before you locate your hotel – you must head for the local funeral home and ask for a fan.  Trust me, they will have them.

Made of a circle of thin cardboard about the size of a luncheon plate, printed all over with advertisements from various small town businesses, and stuck on a stick, they’re just what you’ll need.  If supplies are limited, you’ll just have to exhibit your own set of shiny eyebrows until Sunday.  Then you’ll be able to tap into the hidden supply that’s tucked in with the hymnals along the backs of most church pews – your prayers having well and truly been answered.

“What?” you ask, now deeply concerned.  “Are there no viable alternatives?”

Well, there are two.  Either you can wear a black hat with a veil, appearing to be in deep mourning, or you can pretend that wearing deep sea goggles on dry land has become the most desirable of fashion statements.

DISCLAIMER: Neither of the above options reflects the opinion of this author.

Personally, I will be spending much of this coming summer indoors.  How about you?

Annie Acorn

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Also available in print and for NOOK!

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A Stranger Comes to Town (Annie Acorn’s Kindle Short Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

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24 Responses to A Tired Older Woman Goes Bug Eyed

  1. Oh yes! And in Maine, where TT is from, there is the dreaded black fly season. Nasty little bits!
    Andrea Twombly recently posted..Mother’s Day 2012My Profile

    • Annie says:

      Andrea – I’ve only heard of the black fly season in Maine, but that was enough. You have my sympathy! Annie

  2. I laughed so hard at this. Of course, I live in Houston, so…
    (Just pretend I’m actually waving at you, okay?) LOL 😀
    Melissa Maygrove recently posted..Grammar Police Monday – Do Commas Give You Pause? Part IMy Profile

    • Annie says:

      Melissa – I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yep, living in Houston you would certainly understand firsthand! 🙂

  3. Deb says:

    Annie, preaching to the choir (Texas). I can relate to the gnats flying into your eye. What is up with that???? Don’t get me started on the disgusting flying water bugs.
    I did discover a vinegar/liquid soap combo (with funnel in a jar) that attracts the gnats and get quite the satisfaction of seeing their little lifeless bodies floating around in the mixture. They go in, but they don’t come out!
    Thanks for the laugh. The Northerners cannot say you didn’t warn them.

    • Annie says:

      Deb – Yes, living in Texas you definite comprehend! I’m glad you enjoyed my little piece. I will certainly look for the vinegar thing. I don’t usually feel in tune with my killer instinct, but then there are those times… Annie

  4. Louise says:

    I’m all for the googles!

  5. Great post, I actually feel itchy on my head now! Was out in our garden earlier, so not sure if its your words or there really are some critters in the head of hair of mine!

    Have a good day!
    Marian Bonelli recently posted..out of sinc post, due to out of sinc writer!My Profile

    • Annie says:

      Marian – I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. I’ll gladly take credit for the itching! Come again! Annie

  6. laura thomas says:

    Just got done with love bugs and green pollen. Now we have the flies, gnats and wasps. My geckos have disappeared, nothing to eat the bugs now. Coastal Alabama is aswarm!!
    laura thomas recently posted..All “Hope” Is Not LostMy Profile

    • Annie says:

      Laura – Believe me, I understand completely. I used to live in Gulfport, Mississippi. What happened to the poor geckos? They were always so cute to watch, and they were so useful! Annie

  7. Shawn Bird says:

    Ha! Thanks for visiting my blog, and thanks for sharing the link to this fun piece! I have been reading Diana Gabaldon books and learning about Southern weather with the Frasers in South Carolina. I may be heading that way next spring. Will I be safe in March, or will I need to attend a funeral?

    • Annie says:

      Shawn – You may need to attend a funeral. Unless it’s below freezing the gnats will be present! I have lots of wonderful memories of South Carolina. Enjoy your trip! Annie

  8. Anne Mackle says:

    I hate flying,crawling or anything to do with insects. We have battled with ants this year trying to stop them coming into the house but because it’s not very warm here we don’t have much problem. Funny post.

    • Annie says:

      Anne – I’m with you on the insect thing. You wouldn’t believe the size of the wood roaches that they have in our Deep South areas. They’re the size of pine bark chips, and they fly at you. Thankfully, they prefer to remain outdoors. Come again! Annie

  9. I live in south western Ontario and deal with gnats (stupid bugs) but not clouds of them, thank heavens. You’ll get clouds of black flies just north of us – which is why you won’t find me north of us. As for mosquitoes… I won’t venture beyond our back deck until fall. I don’t care if the Creeping Charlie is overrunning the Hostas.

    • Annie says:

      Alison – I would not have thought that you would have gnats that far north. I’m feeling a little sorry for the Hostas, though… Just saying. Annie

  10. I giggled at this blog, Annie. But, I admit, living north of the Mason/Dixon line, I learned from it, too. Chiggers sound like a nightmare creature. We had such a warm winter in western PA. The bugs are horrible here, too. And this heat??? Holy cow! I am hiding out in the AC this summer 😉
    Teresa Cypher recently posted..Movie Review: The Best Exotic Marigold HotelMy Profile

    • Annie says:

      Teresa – I’m glad you enjoyed ATOW Goes Bug-Eyed. Believe me, I understand your craving for air conditioning! Come again! Annie

  11. Swallowed my share of gnats growing up in south Georgia. Now I’m in the northern half of the state, gnat free, but never lost the skill of firing a little gust of air from one side of the mouth then the other to fend the varmits off. Comes in handy on visits home.

    Loved your post.
    Andrea Parnell recently posted..Writing Tips: Naming Your CharactersMy Profile

    • Annie says:

      Andrea – I, too, have lived in various parts of Georgia, and you are so right. It does require a different kind of skill set to survive! Come again! Annie

  12. Urban Mommy says:

    The Gnat Line! Another reason I will not be vacationing in Montgomery, Alabama. (though I do love Zelda Fitzgerald)
    Urban Mommy recently posted..Changes to the Mother Brain. Yo!My Profile

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