Your Bug Advisor

Spring is here and the bugs are back!  There are between six and ten million species of insects, but only one for humans.  Hardly seems like a fair fight, which is why you need Your Bug Advisor on your side!

Dear Bug Advisor:

I have carpenter ants–I don’t mean me personally, I mean my house.  They are going into the wood of my soffits as part of my eaves.  Again, I do not have either soffits or eaves, although I have shingles.  What can I do about this?

Tula Marie Grealy, Prairie Village, Kansas

House with random number stickers

Dear Tula Marie–

My what a pretty name!  Shingles are (is?) a viral infection of the nerve roots that causes a rash on one side of the body, either the left or the right.  You don’t get to choose, the shingles do.  Shingles are also a roof covering consisting of individual overlapping elements.  With roof shingles, you do get to choose where they go.  Ask your doctor which is right for you!

Dear Your Bug Advisor:

We have spiders coming out of our electrical switches.  I don’t mind so much but they get my wife upset when she goes to unplug the toaster to make room for the donut maker.  I personally think we have too many countertop appliances, but she says it is her kitchen and for me to stay out of it, except to eat, which I do.

What can I do to get rid of the spiders?  I just want some peace in my house.  I will be in the den if you call, I have a separate line in there.

Claude Boulrice, Florissant MO 63034

Dear Claude–

Leave those spiders alone!  They eat other bugs, and if you kill the spiders, you will just have more bugs, only different kinds.  I know this sounds like a “zero sum” game since either way you have about the same number, but wouldn’t you rather have spiders who generally do not bite humans except when they (the humans) are sleeping?  The choice is up to you; death by spider bite, or a clean countertop.

Dear “Bug Advisor”:

I was looking through the garage sale ads in yesterday’s paper when I came across this little tidbit I thought your readers would be interested in.  “The lily beetle has cut a deadly swath through New England over the past 17 years.  The adults are about a quarter of an inch long and if you squeeze them they squeak, a defense mechanism to deter predators.”

Hel-lo?  Anybody home at The Bug Advisor?  Where in the hell have you been for the past 17 years while a squeaking, quarter-inch long beetle cut a “deadly swath” through New England?  I might as well get my bug advice from Dear Abby.

Sign me–

A former reader, Shrewsbury, Mass.

Lily beetle:  Squeak!

Dear Former Reader:

As noted above, there are millions of insect species–how am I supposed to find the time to write about every one?  Especially since I get paid freelance rates, with no health or dental benefits.  And yesterday they sent around a memo saying you could no longer carry over unused personal days.  You’re lucky I’m taking the time to answer your snippy, impertinent question.  I don’t mean to seem defensive, but if you squeeze me, I do a hell of a lot more than squeak at you!


Dear Bug Advisor person:

I am deathly afraid of getting Lyme Disease, so much so that I stay out from under branches at all times, as I understand this is how ticks get on people, by dropping down on you when you pass under them.  I mean when you pass under the ticks, not the people.

Now I come to find out they have another secret tactic called “questing,” where they sit on a leaf, a twig, or even a blade of grass, then crawl onto you if you get close and linger long enough next to them.  What I want to know is, my daughter has been invited to go on a “Spirit Quest” with her Girl Scout Troop, and I am being asked to sign a medical waiver.  Do you think a reputable paramilitary organization such as the Girl Scouts would deliberately give my Shonna a deadly disease?

Mrs. Lionel Gehrke, Cairo, Illinois

More ticks

Dear Mrs. Gehrke:

I believe you have been misinformed.  The Girl Scouts are not a paramilitary operation, they are a clandestine domestic security force.  A “Spirit Quest” is simply a walk around the neighborhood with flashlights and rolls of toilet paper, to be thrown in the trees outside houses occupied by cute boys.  Sign the waiver, and tell your daughter to stay away from blades of grass.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

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