Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Confessions: I'm afraid of roaches (and wasps, but this one is kind of cool)

Have you head about the new species of wasp that was discovered? If you know me in real life, you know one of my greatest fears in life is being stung by a wasp or bee. Second only (or maybe equal) to that fear is my insane fear of roaches.

First, let me explain my irrational fear of roaches. This tale is one of clear observational learning. When I was a very young child and my mother saw a large tree roach in our home, she would scream, make dramatic exclamations, and beat the roach senseless with a broom. From this model, I learned to be utterly terrified at the sight of a large tree roach. I've later learned that the tree roaches aren't even the ones that infest your home; it's the little German ones that do that. But it was too late, the damage was already done.

Somehow, the large tree roaches that occasionally braved the Stuff house came to be known as "Rudy". As in, Rudy the Roach. Upon reflection, I think it's probably something my dad came up with to tease my mom, but as a very young child, I thought large tree roaches were also known as Rudy. It didn't help that often when my mom would see a roach, she would scream, "Rudy!". Yes, I grew up in a crazy house.

One day, when I was still a very young child, my mom and I were at the grocery store. I was riding underneath the cart, as I tended to do. We were strolling down the paper towel aisle and there was a man who was bent down on the floor, stocking the paper towels. Suddenly, a woman's voice came in over the store intercom and announced "Rudy, please report to produce. Rudy, please report to produce."

Immediately, the man who was bent down in the aisle got up and went in the direction of the produce department. All this happened right before my very young eyes. Right away I asked my mother why on earth that man's mother would be cruel enough to name him after a roach?! At that point I suppose she explained to me that Rudy was a name and not just a synonym for a large, scary, tree roach.

To this day I am still phobic when it comes to roaches. I can kill one with nothing shorter than a long floor broom. And even then I usually have to call my mother so she can talk me through the process of scooping the dead roach into a dust pan and flushing it down the toilet. It's intense.

So, back to this new wasp. Listen to what it does:

“This brightly metallic colored group of insect is famous for its rather unorthodox ways of reproduction. The wasp stings a cockroach’s head, transferring neurotoxins. The cockroach then slowly turns into a submissive being, lacking all free-will, and follows the wasp to its burrow. Inside the burrow, the wasp lays an egg on it. In a few days the wasp larva hatches, feeds on the cockroach, pupates, and soon emerges as an adult.”

Disgusting. But also, wonderful news! The less roaches, the better! The only problem is the death of the roach leads to the life of a new roaches or wasps....which is worse?

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