There’s so much to like about South Carolina — and Charleston in particular — that I hesitate to point out some of the state’s issues. Or, to be more exact, some of my issues with the state. Nevertheless, I’m writing now to testify about one of them: Bugs.
I was out in the backyard yesterday, doing a bit of work on the shed and tinkering around with some custom bumper ideas for the new Jeep, and I was mercilessly bitten by mosquitoes despite a good coating of DEET-powered spray.
A vengeful man, I promptly strung out an extension cord and hooked up a bug zapper in the middle of the yard. Then I went inside and proceeded to chase the Hobbit and tend to other matters for a few hours as night fell.
Sometime around 9:30 I heard a faint popping noise signifying the electrically explosive death of insects. I got up from my computer to look out the back window, expecting to see a few flitting things around the bug zapper, and the occasional spark from inside it.
But that’s not what I saw. Instead, what met me was a sight unlike anything I’ve ever seen before: a swarm of bugs.
No. Not a lot of bugs. Don’t misunderstand me. A swarm.
Our house here backs up to a wide, bustling tidal marsh, and I think every single mayfly born of those acres of wetland had been drawn first to the zapper and then to the lit windows of the back of our house. There were clouds of flying bugs roiling in the light, thousands of them crawling on the windows and fogging the view outside.
It was disturbing.
It was also sad. Few mayfly species live longer than a day once they emerge from the water in their adult, flying forms — some have adult lives counted in minutes — and they were spending that precious time in my backyard (and on my windows), when they were supposed to be, um, reproducing above water.
I watched them in stunned, awed silence for perhaps a minute before I knew what I had to do. Quickly turning off the interior lights to prevent ingress of the swarm, I took a deep breath and jumped out into them. I ran as fast as my barefeet could carry me, inhaling only in a midpoint between house and bug zapper, where the swarm was relatively thin.
Brushing the happy little creatures away from my eyes, I got hold of the plug on the bug zapper and pulled it before rushing back through the buzzing cloud and into the house.
It couldn’t have taken but a few seconds, but in those two quick openings of the door, dozens of the little fellas got into the house. I’m pretty sure the majority of them came in on me, as they were landing on me as fast as I could brush them off while I ran.
Anyway, after having done my best to save the swarming horde outside, I swatted and smashed those that hitched a ride inside.
There is, after all, only so far a person will go for a bug.