Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wings, Legs, and More

Every season in Zambia seems to open a new episode of the long-running drama "Living with Bugs." We have just endured the Attack of the Swarming Termites. This followed the Invasion of the Tiny Ants. I am told that I will yearn for the return of the tiny ants when we reach the March of the Fire Ants. They pinch! The Annoyance of the Seasonal Pesky House Flies includes their performance preference for buzzing and dive-bombing around my hair.

Some episodes, like those just mentioned, have a limited time period or life cycle. Others are long-running plays. The Parade of the Medium Black Ants takes place only in the bathroom, around the tub and sink, but it has been continuous since my arrival. Other long-running acts include the High-Jumping Antics of the Grasshoppers/Mantises/and other Long-legged Skinny Green Insects, the Flight of the Giant Beetles, and the Occasional Surprise Appearance of the Spider As Big As My Hand, a horror act if I ever saw one.

It is not only the house where the drama occurs. The eggplant patch in the garden was the scene of the Battle of the Red Spiders v. Moses. The spiders won the first round, but Moses and some secret special spray look to be holding the spiders down for the count at the moment. We welcome the Dance of the Singing Bees and Wasps around the outdoor plants.

When the flying termites swarmed, they covered everything in their path, including us. One neighbor told me she just went to bed under the mosquito net when they appeared in the early evening, and the next morning she swept away the layer of carcasses all over her living room floor. If you leave a light on to attract them and a bowl of water to catch them as they fall, you can take off the wings and fry them for a snack. I chose to bypass this treat.

Zambia does have some beautiful insects, particularly butterflies. There were multitudes of tiny yellow ones for the first few months after I arrived, as well as every other color and size imaginable.

I do my best to appreciate and respect insects as valuable part of God's creation, although it is sometimes hard not to find them annoying. But then I remember the comment of Corrie Ten Boom (in her book The Hiding Place) about the fleas that infested one of the concentration camp dormitories in which she and her sister were held. She initially complained about the hated fleas. Then she noticed that the officers seldom came into that particular dorm, apparently to avoid bites. The prisoners became free to hold meetings and activities there without interference. Eventually she was thankful for fleas. So I guess I can be thankful for the interesting array of critters and creepy-crawlies encountered here in Zambia.

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