Palmetto Bugs and Screams in the Night

I have lived in the South my whole life…well, I grew up in Florida, and though that is technically in the South, the South doesn’t claim it.  No matter, even Florida shares something with the rest of the South….big, giant, palmetto bugs…aka flying roaches- possibly the most terrifying creatures on the planet.  Just typing those words makes me shudder, for I was emotionally scarred by palmetto bugs in my youth- and I lived to tell the tale.

What made me think of those disgusting bugs? Just the other day I was in my bathroom, which is partially underground since our house is built into the side of a mountain. While there, and while in a delicate position, a GIANT palmetto bug scurried under my feet.  I screamed like a little girl and jumped up, going to battle with the creepy vermin, my heart racing. We have a wonderful pest control service, but sometimes crossing paths with these dreaded things is inevitable- especially after a big rainstorm…of which we’ve had many.  I went upstairs afterwards and asked Dan if he’d heard me scream. “Sorry, Honey, not a thing.” Not comforting at all. 

This brought back memories of my childhood, growing up in the old house on Westwood Lane. The house was under several large oak trees, and with its jalousie windows it was as airtight as a colander. We did not have the money for a good exterminator, and so we waged war with the bugs with whatever we had around. Mom and I would be sitting in the living room peacefully watching television, when all of the sudden, a palmetto bug would fly onto the ceiling or run across the floor. Heavy D would screech this high-pitched scream and run for her weapon of choice- hairspray. Those bugs would be frozen in their tracks. She tried windex once, but it wasn’t as effective in stopping the little buggers. She got giant spiders that way, too. Once they were compromised, she would screech again and beat them to a pulp with either a fly swatter or her shoe. It was quite dramatic. 

Mom had to be the brave one, because I was totally freaked out by the bugs…and they seemed to know it. So many times I would be just about to go to sleep in my big oak bed, and I would hear it…”zzzzzziPP…..zzzzzzziPP”….the dreaded sound of a palmetto bug flying through my bedroom from wall to wall in total darkness. At that point, I screamed bloody murder, “MOM! Mom HELP!!”  Mom told me that her hair stood on end when she heard me scream in the middle of the night. Bless her, she would come rushing into my room, turn on my light, and prepare to go to war with her fly swatter and hairspray. It was so hard to go back to sleep after that…I just knew the dead bug had friends who wouldn’t be far behind…and they’d be coming for revenge. I have had a phobia about those horrible bugs ever since. 

Thankfully, Dan is usually around to deal with the occasional bug in the house, or the dogs will think it’s a game to catch the moving target. Sometimes, though…sometimes it’s up to me. And when it happens, I screech a high-pitched squeal, pull off my shoe, and go to battle, grabbing hairspray if it is nearby. After all, I was trained by the best. 


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