4/2/08

Bugs and Snakes Okie Style...


I will freely admit I have always been of a nervous disposition where bugs are concerned, but now I actually have reason to be! It’s like the bugs here are all on steroids, they are so much bigger than the ones in the UK it’s not funny.

The yellow-jackets as they are known here, or wasps in the UK, are at least 3 times the size of their Brit’ counterparts. But we also have bugs I am not used to dealing with on a daily basis like huge Crickets, Grasshoppers 2 inches long, June bugs, Roly-Poly’s, Locusts that turn their distinctive sound on and off as if someone had flicked a switch.
Then there are the incredibly cool Lightening Bugs; these appear on summer evenings and have a phosphorous tail that glows on/off in the dark. You can catch them in a jar and watch them light up. We have loads of mosquito’s in the summer, so much so, we have invested in a special machine that attracts them, sucks them in and then dehydrates them.

The first summer here I was bitten alive by Chiggers, you can’t even see them but they live in grass and bite, leaving you with incredibly itchy legs for days. The most effective way to kill them is to paint the bites with clear nail polish and it will suffocate and kill them, stopping the itch. Yes, you understood that right; they lay an egg under your skin and it hatches there!!

I have always suffered with Arachnophobia and so living in a state with poisonous Black Widows, the Brown Recluse whose bite causes necrosis of the skin (and you see them alot) and finally HUGE Tarantulas' you can see crossing roads 200ft away, is my worst nightmare! Luckily so far I have avoided any of Tarantulas', but have already warned the Hubster I will probably wreck the Pickup when I do.

The first summer I was here, the Hubster got used to regular screeches as huge bugs discovered me on a daily basis! I am pleased to say I am now acclimatising better.

I am not however getting used to seeing snakes out and about, as in the UK the only snakes you see outside a zoo and very rarely, are small Garter, Grass or Adders (the only native poisonous snake in the UK). The native snakes in Oklahoma are Rattlesnakes, Bull Snakes (that do a great Rattler impersonation but are harmless), Copperheads, Racers (who will play a version of chicken with you!), Water Mocassins, Garters and Grass-snakes.

So far I have only had a very close encounter at home with a long but skinny Garter snake in our garage, but it was enough to have me screaming “SNAKE” down the phone to the Hubster. He raced home, unsure what to expect and dealt with it for me whilst demeaning it's size, by chopping its head off – EWWW!

Then one day last summer I was crossing a friend’s drive when an approx’ 3ft Bull Snake shot across the path in front of me, my friend heard my screaming in the house and raced out to rescue me…LOL!

I have another friend who lives out in the country who once had a big (4ft+) Bull Snake drop around her shoulders as she left her garden shed. Needless to say she took off at high speed screaming and almost having heart failure. Another time there was an 8ft Bull Snake wrapped around the front axel of her Mom’s Pickup, it was apparently quite a job getting it off.

Another friend who works in the oilfields had a very close encounter with a Rattler when his toolbox was blown off his vehicle into the grass. When he went to retrieve it a Rattler reared up ready to strike right behind it, he fell over in his haste to escape but did so and eventually shot it!

There are so many Rattlesnakes out in the country and canyons here, that they have Rattlesnake roundups in certain towns. Hunters will come in for a couple of days and catch literally thousands, display them and then kill and skin them. I have actually been to one of these and amazed myself (and my visiting Brit' friend) by making it into the appropriately named ‘Den of Death’, to view them in a big pen. I couldn’t believe the smell, how many were in there (ankle deep) and the size of some of them. I tried really hard to touch one being held by a handler, but just could not do it. Our visiting Brit' friend Andrew though went alot further as you can see above, totally freaking out his wife!

The local philosophy on snakes around here is, the only good snake is a dead snake, poisonous or not! How you do it is up to you, but the most popular methods are chopping off the head with a garden implement or shooting it.

So you can probably understand why I tread warily around my garden, keep my cell phone on me and NEVER use the grass verge if I get caught short when we are in the country!

12 comments:

pamokc said...

in my family growing up, we learned there are only two kinds of snakes. if it is on land, it is a deadly king cobra, and if it is in water, it is a deadly water moccasin. and every single one of them was heading toward our house to do us harm. so sure enough, when we saw a dead snake on the road, they really WERE heading the same way we were going!!! great story. keep up the good work!

Lynne said...

I just clicked on your blog and you scared the living SHIT out of me! I love reading your blog, but you need to put a big warning in the title if you're going to show pictures of those dreaded "S" things.

I've seen a few of those things in our yard, and a copperhead bit my dog a few years ago. I swear, if I ever see another one here, I'm moving. I'll have a sale sign on my house before you can count to 3.

Oh God, I'm going to have nightmares tonight. I think I'll just sit up and read all night.

Katrina Chambers said...

I am with you on the snake thing! Don't even get me started on the snakes in Australia!! I had shivers when your friend said a snake dropped on her shoulders!!!

BritGal' Sarah said...

Lynne! LOL at you cussing, that shocked me!

Sorry and I understand totally, I am the same if I see a pic of a snake and each time I log in here I cringe....but it really needed a piccie and that's a great one of a very brave friend!

Betcha I may have a few more comments like yours tomorrow...ah well that'll wake up those half asleep early morning blog readers
;-)

BritGal' Sarah said...

Katrina - I have heard many times that Australia is the worst place in the world for snakes and spiders. So sorry but I won't be visiting anytime soon, you're welcome here though!

Mary said...

Sarah, all I kept thinking while reading this post was: "Wow, she really must love this guy!!!"

When I was small, my Mom would send us out at dusk with a mayo jar to catch fireflies (aka lightning bugs). Such a wonderful memory!

Vickie said...

Roly-polies are nice, we have wasps and yellow jackets, and I love the sound of locusts. Grew up in Kansas, so I know the sound. They are in Korea, too, so I was right at home while stationed there. I miss locusts, lightening bugs, I don't miss chiggers.
Not fond of snakes.

Teresa said...

I was actually getting excited about my upcoming move in two weeks to Oklahoma City. OH MY GOSH!!!!!! Is it too late to cancel everything and stay put??? I am not joking, either!

T.R. said...

That's quite an urban legend about chiggers laying eggs under the skin. They are actually secreting an enzyme that turns the flesh to mush so they can suck it up. Finger nail polish might relieve the itch - but there's nothing under it to suffocate.

If you knew how many rats and mice bull snakes ate -- you would celebrate them at every sighting. All they want is a big fat rodent.

The celebrating of the slaughtering of thousands of rattlesnakes at festivals is a great travesty in Oklahoma. Rattlesnakes are highly specialized predators that keep the rodent population balanced on those great sweeping plains of Oklahoma. More people die of lightening strikes a year than snake bites. Regardless of your feelings for snakes, the festivals not only slaughter snakes but torture them first and all for entertainment.

BritGal' Sarah said...

t.r - that's good to know about the chiggers, the pesky locals obviously like to scare us imports!

As for the rattlesnakes, I don't agree with the whole 'den of death' sideshow thing either, it is cruel and I won't go to another. At the time I didn't even know how to identify one and so my visit was more of a necessary lesson.

But in our area ranchers regularly lose cattle to rattle snakes and I am assured the population needs some controls or we'd be over-run.

jim said...

They are very big in okie.
This is so crazy how big a difference they are.

oilfield equipment sales

Justine/Justiney/Tiney said...

Here's my second comment of the day, and I have to say it gave me a few giggles. It sounds like you have more snake encounters there in OK, but here in FL you would DIE if you had to experience the bugs! Holy crap, they're everywhere, they're huge, and they bite!!!!!!
You didn't mention fire ants but I'm guessing you've got them there too. OW.

Justine :o )