Not for entomophobes

The Star Tribune has an article on 5 nasty Minnesota bugs to watch out for this summer. It’s not particularly useful. Top of the list: ticks and mosquitos, as if you can live here without knowing that. People who visit Minnesota unprepared for ticks and mosquitos are exsanguinated and stripped of their flesh in mere minutes, and don’t have time to open the local newspaper. You should see the charnel pit at the airport, it’s a great tourist attraction.*

Other problems with the article: each of the Bad 5 are accompanied by a full-color closeup photo. Yeah, like the people who are worried about bugs will be able to read the text with mandibles and way too many eyes staring at them.

Also, one of their ‘villains’ is…the house centipede. Why? They even admit that they’re harmless.

Nasty factor: They’re not harmful, but they rank high on the “ick!” scale. “People get weirded out by them because they have the long legs and they move really fast,” Hahn said.

How to protect: You can easily squash them. Or just ignore them.

‘high on the “ick!” scale’ is not a legitimate reason to squash an innocent living creature. Why are they even listed here? I think maybe sensationalist ickiness was the primary criterion.

I could write a shorter version of the article. For pests like mosquitos, ticks, and flies, use DEET and protective clothing and don’t go strolling through tall grass. For wasps, leave them alone. For other insects and spiders, learn to appreciate their contributions to the ecosystem and stop squashing them with that stupid “ick” excuse.

*I’m lying about the charnel pit. Of course it’s not a tourist attraction, it smells terrible.


  1. says

    The pictures in the articles are wrong. That’s not a black-legged tick. And that’s not a horse fly or deer fly.

  2. HappyHead says

    Not a good report at all on the house centipedes – not only should you not squish things based on ick factor, those guys are insect predators – they eat the other bugs, and you wouldn’t have them if there weren’t other bugs around that they were getting rid of.

    Kill them off, and nothing’s keeping the other bugs in check!

  3. says

    Well, maybe that’s fair as far as direct threats to humans. But we have invasive species that are doing major harm to forests and other ecological regime. In New England we have among other gypsy mothers, woolly adelgids, Asian long-horned beetle, emerald elm borers. . . . Of course the war between insects and plants is as old as the insects, but the movement of species around the world is wreaking all sorts of havoc. Not a lot we can do about it, alas.

  4. blf says

    Kill [house centipedes] off, and nothing’s keeping the other bugs in check!

    The peas might. But the centipedes have probably tricked the peas into thinking they are allies — it’s either trick such foul & nasty vegetables or die an even worse death then getting squished. Centipedes are very pragmatic, being able to tap dance around just about any problem.

    So the centipedes not only help keep the bugs in check, they also try to keep the peas in check. However, they are not doing anything about the Evil Equine Empire.

  5. says

    house centipedes are my friends

    In the case of spiders I just don’t know if it might be a bitey one or not. Although I can’t excuse a spider who will put a figgin web ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE DANG PATH.

    For the most part I’m cool with any bug that doesn’t get all up in my face though, gnats.

  6. says

    The whole damn article could have been covered with TICKS! and left at that. Fuck, I hate those things, as I said on Affinity yesterday:

    Aaaauuuuuuuggggghhh. I had to take a whitescreen outside to get some photographs, stepped on something kinda sharp, went to check, and there’s a fucking tick on my flips, another on my foot, one on my leg, and another above it, already half dug in. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, I HATE ticks. Then I dumped my jeans in a hot bleach wash, which I had to stop after 3 minutes, to fish my fucking lens cap out of the back pocket. I hate ticks. Hate them.

  7. iiandyiiii says

    I have come to a sort of truce with the critters that live in my building — as long as they stay out of my sight, they are welcome to do as critters do. But if they venture out into my eyespace, they will be destroyed with urgency and extreme prejudice.

    I recognize that I’m somewhat of a tyrant with these creatures, but so far I haven’t heard any complaints from them. I suspect they keep ahold of the troublemakers within their midst, and force them out into the open when I pass by.

  8. rietpluim says

    Frankly, I quite like ticks. I think they’re fascinating. And I wouldn’t mind them that much if they didn’t spread Lyme disease. But then again, I do not live in Minnesota, and maybe our ticks are just wussies compared to yours.

  9. latveriandiplomat says

    Just leaving wasps/hornets/yellowjackets etc. alone is a good general policy, but it isn’t always an option. Sometimes they set up house right on your doorstep…and if you’re allergic, they can be a serious menace.

  10. antigone10 says

    I woke up with a house centipede crawling on my leg. Now I have declared death upon them. We put out ant traps and spray around the house with some pretty vicious bug spray. And we put dehumidifier packs in the basement and all the crawl spaces.

    I lay waste to their environment, and they have no choice but to move or try to survive my wrath.

  11. blf says

    rietpluim@9, She is known to have forty-foot high killer rats stomping about. I assume the ticks are proportionally-sized.

  12. birgerjohansson says

    My cat has declared our apartment to be his lebensraum. I am tolerated as his groom, anything else that moves becomes an appetizer.

  13. kantalope says

    While playing Marine Corps we set up camp in the Hawaii jungle. The centipedes just shrugged off combat boots. And one guy set up a ring of death around his cot, the carnage in the morning was something to behold, that was when you could pour sevin everywhere.

  14. se habla espol says

    For the last few years, the wasps have set up housekeeping in the structure supporting the mailbox. The letter carrier took exception, of course. Duct tape has taken care of that. This year, they’ve moved to the mailbox itself. Postal regulations do not allow the letter carrier to just leave them alone, without in turn requiring us to journey to the post office before closing time. We’re performing such tests as are needed on insecticides that are not also lettercarriercides.

    We’re not in Minnesota, either.

  15. springa73 says

    I often get centipedes in my basement, where I generally leave them alone. Technically they aren’t totally harmless – they can inflict a painful bite, but usually only if one does something unwise like sticking one’s foot in a shoe containing a centipede without shaking it out first.

    I will usually squash them if I find them in the kitchen or bathroom or bedroom, though.

  16. microraptor says

    When I was growing up, one of my next-door neighbors was a former Marine who told me about the time he was stationed somewhere in the South Pacific. He was out training with his squad one day when they stopped for a break, at which point he took off his helmet. After the break was over, he put his helmet back on only to discover that a giant tropical centipede had climbed in in the meantime when it bit him on the top of his head. It made quite the impression on him: after that he was always very careful to check his equipment for centipedes.

  17. whheydt says

    Back in my youth, I lived in Merced, CA for a couple of years. It was noted that California had 35 different species of mosquitoes living in the state…and 28 of those species lived in Merced County.

  18. whheydt says

    Re: microraptor @ #17…
    When I lived in New Mexico, the received wisdom was tap your shoes on the floor before putting them on in morning…in case a scorpion had decided to hide in there. The smaller scorpions are more dangerous than the larger ones.