Canada and its deeply frozen earth tends to keep the bugs to a more acceptable size and number than in the lands of eternal warmth. Bermuda has some critters...BIG critters. Wolf spiders for example, which can jump. My boss/friend Helen is afraid of spiders at the best of times, but when she saw one of these run across the floor while watching a horror movie one night, she became the new star of the evenings terror. Little guy scurried through the living room, into the bedroom and was hanging out in her rafters.
I could have probably braved the wolf spider. But the one thing no one likes (except my Helen who would must have been a Buddha i another life) is cockroaches. Even a lot of the locals have never been able to get used to them. Many people have heard that cockroaches are a product of a dirty area or something of that nature, but the truth is they simply thrive and reproduce in the tropics, and quite naturally they find their way indoors. And outdoors. I have seen one sunning itself on the street against unaware tourists. I have seen them scurry along to beach to join our barbecues after the sun goes down. And I have horror stories to entertain you with that would take longer than I care to type.
So how do they get inside? Leave a window open and they will scurry in. Take a vacation and babies will pop out of the shower and sink drains and go find a place to settle in. My first apartment had a slight gap under the french door. When my friend Monique came to visit, she had been told horror stories about the roaches by all of my friends at dinner. Once at home I assured her that the chances were she would never see one. And then I screamed because one ran over my foot. Monique leapt into action with a paper towel to give chase....but retreated when it ran back at her. I reached for the bug spray and with a squirt it ran under the front door. I knew I had to finish it off...so I gathered all of my courage, opened the door to the night and peered around it with my spray, ready to aim and fire....and let out another huge scream as a large black figure stared back at me. A giant toad had come to eat the giant roach. I cried, partially from terror, relief, and laughter. The toad got away. Hope the roach only gave him indigestion.
When I moved to my brand new, never lived in before apartment that was shiny and sealed I made a pact to never open any windows or doors unnecessarily, and believed that my fortress would forever be safe. Nope. One morning laying in bed upstairs I heard one...yes, you read that right, I HEARD its footsteps on my brand new, impeccably shiny hard tile. I hoped I was wrong, but ran downstairs just in case...yup, right in the middle of my kitchen floor. How did it get in? I eventually learned that there were crawling in through the air conditioning.
A girl's best friend here in Bermuda is a bug spray called Baygone...so lethal that you can't buy it in North America. A half a can of that will kill a Bermuda cockroach in 5 or 6 minutes. And likely will cause you COPD. There is no good strategy. I have been told that squishing them releases all of their viable eggs and can cause more of a problem. The sprays are toxic to pets and people. For a while I tried a broom -- locate, isolate, open door, and sweep, flick, cast away. Although they are ridiculously fast, and as you chase them are making a mental list of everything to sterilize and or throw away as they scurry over it (like the couch), you can sometimes win with the broom while staying far enough away. This of course becomes a problem when they decide to fly at you. Folklore says the females can fly, but only in July and August. So imagine my response when I went after one with a broom this May and saw it stop running and open wings. I still keep the Baygone. Here's another thing to think about. So know we know we have giant, icky, flying bugs that like the light. Imagine what can happen on a scooter at night. I am sure they are responsible for a few fatalities.
I have seen cockroaches in Central America -- Belize and Nicaragua. Some are just as big, but generally they just sit there and let you pass. A lot of us agree that Bermudian cockroaches are unusually aggressive. They quite often run at you...they scurry further, faster, and show no fear of humans. I won't be surprised if one slaps the broom out of my had before I leave.
When I adopted the panthers from the SPCA, little Aiden and Harry, I learned that Bermudian cats were much more used to roaches. My Canadian cats Lexi and JJ would freeze in terror right along side me. The panthers light up like it's Christmas. I learned that if they stare at a spot on the wall it is some type of insect or arachnid...when they go still I very quickly assess whether their gaze is fixated above my head (need for immediate panic) or if I am a safe distance away from their focus. When they stare at the A/C unit, I give it a dose of Baygone. If they do manage to get in, I know Harry has the situation covered. I know this because one night I heard him playing downstairs, and then heard both panthers bounding up the stairs, and looked to see Harry coming straight for the beg with a still squirming roach in his mouth. Because they are rescue cats and easily frightened, I willed myself to remain calm and not scream...and then totally lost it and woke up half the neighbourhood with my bloodcurdling scream. Harry hid under the nightstand for the next 3 days....leaving me to figure out what to do with the headless but still squirming body dropped on the floor. I couldn't pass it to get to the broom. So I found a hat I didn't really need, and a hand weight, and so it met its end...as did those objects.
Since that, we have either been in the clear, or else Harry is getting better at hiding the evidence. Or so I thought. The other day a friend from Canada was texting as I was trying to get ready for dinner out. Since it's fall I reached for my cozy brown ankle boots. The only response he got was "Can't talk, just found a roach in my shoe." Told you they push back. Happy Halloween all!