Defeated: My Mental Battle With Farm Insects

The bugs on our farm are continuously buzzing, crawling and biting—and I can’t seem to catch a break.

by Rachael Dupree
PHOTO: Katja Schulz/Flickr

The bugs. They’re beating me down.

I’m not completely naive. I know that when I signed up to live on a farm that there would be significantly more creatures around than in our little city backyard. I mean, I’ve spent enough time on farms, on camping trips and in tropical countries to not be completely grossed out by creepy crawlies. But now, it feels like they’ve infiltrated my life:

Carpenter bees digging holes in our deck.

Small roaches skittering across dark corners of the house.

Chiggers and ticks hitching rides on my legs when I go on a walk.

Wasps building nests in the eaves of our roof.

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Ants crawling over and biting my feet as I cut herbs beside the porch.

Spiders—at the most miraculous speed possible—sewing their webs across our walking paths and in the corners of our living room.

Horse flies dive bombing my car when I come home in the evenings.

The other morning, still half asleep as I was waiting for coffee to brew, I leaned over our kitchen counter to find myself face-to-face with an arrowhead spider (an orb-weaver type that are extremely prevalent on our farm) hanging off the chain pulls of the overhead light. I watched as it lowered itself by a strand of webbing, balled it up, climbed back up to the pull, zigzagged its way between the fan pull and the light pull, and repeated the process over and over again. It was incredible, though albeit somewhat invasive, especially pre-caffeine.

Everywhere I turn there is something creeping, crawling, biting or buzzing. Even in the shower I find myself fighting webbing and watching spiders carefully crawl out of reach of my feet. It’s enough to make any person go insane. Even though most of the hundred bug bites I received when trekking through the woods a few weeks ago are nearly healed, every day a new itchy spot appears somewhere on my body. It’s like we’re immigrants to this world of theirs and their message to us is very clear: This is our home, and we want you out.

I’m of the mentality that we need to peacefully coexist with bugs, and right now I’m constantly being challenged in this ideology. Insects are a part of this delicate ecosystem that we’ve learned can get completely out of whack when we try to decimate an entire species. And I get it—they were here first, and they want to exert their authority. But every day, I’m resisting the temptation to reach for that can of pest spray and start with a clean slate.

In all fairness, we’ve heard that the bugs around these parts are the worst that they’ve been in 20 years, so I’m banking on the idea that next year I can go out to my garden or take a walk around my farm and not need to always wear long pants and long sleeves to avoid getting eaten alive. Also, the mosquitoes don’t really seem to be an issue here—and as someone who tastes very sweet to mosquitoes, this is glorious. It’s in these things that I take solace, as I live in misery of the summer version of cabin fever. But I’m also looking forward to those chilly days of late fall and winter when I can get outside and enjoy my land in peace.

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