October 3rd, 2012:

A TALE OF MANY INSECTS…yuck By Victoria Giraud

When I think of insects, I consider them pests, even though I know they have a rightful place in the balance of Nature. Last year,  a cricket  made a home under my kitchen sink and behind my dishwasher for weeks. Chirp, chirp, chirp… The “natural” insecticide didn’t work and I refused to spray the poison, so I lived with it until a leak was fixed and the creepy creature expired for lack of water. This year I have seen a couple in the kitchen or bathroom but they are literally on their “last legs” and easy to squash or choose to hide and die in the darkness. This week I saw one in the doctor’s exam room on the third floor! I kicked at a chair and it scampered under the examining bed. Enterprising little crawlers they are!

Locusts, on the other hand, are considered both a plague and a food! According to Jewish Kosher law, certain locusts are an acceptable food; they are considered delicacies and eaten in various countries. Author Jules Verne described them as “shrimps of the air.” Imagine eating roasted locusts or salted and smoked locusts! Crunch, crunch….yum, yum….

I’ve written about the locust invasion in Tripoli while I was there, but I don’t remember the event as vividly as some. I wasn’t outside surrounded by these large “bugs,” for one thing, although I remember Libyan men along the harbor picking them off walls to save for a feast afterward. I think guys in general are much more interested in creepy-crawlers.

Male & Female Locusts Having Fun!

Art Arrowsmith, a member of the Wheelus High School basketball team, was out on the court with the team one day before the locust onslaught. They were practicing for an upcoming league game.

“I went in for a lay-up and as my eyes followed the ball into the basket, my gaze naturally went to the sky, drawn by movement above. Whoa! There were millions of large flies, or so I thought initially, streaming across my vision. A second look and I realized the flies were really locusts! Shortly after, our coach ended the practice. The locusts arrived in clouds that were immeasurable, but one would guess they covered miles. Soon, they were settling and crawling, hopping and clinging to all things available. Crunching through them was unavoidable.”

Art said he didn’t hear them while they were flying, only when they were feeding.

Ron Curtis, an English fellow whose family was stationed in Tripoli in the 50s, related his experience:  “The first time I got caught in a locust storm I was about 100 yards from home. I saw this black cloud in the distance, which was an odd sight for summer.  Within seconds I was being battered by thousands of locusts (trust me, they hit hard and hurt).  They seemed to stick to my hair, my clothes and my skin.  There were so many it was difficult to see, and I got completely disoriented.  Within seconds it was over and the ground was littered with thousands of the insects.  The Libyans came out with baskets and scooped them up.  I learned later that they roasted and ate them.”

Ron Himebaugh, who attended 3rd grade at Wheelus, remembers flies. “The entire outside wall of our house was covered from time to time with FLIES!”  For someone who was so young in Tripoli, Ron has a variety of memories: finding a Roman coin in his yard (he lived off base), “dust so bad I could hardly breathe, and the smell of Suk el Giuma.”

My mother was a diligent, tireless housekeeper who was up to all the challenges of living overseas.  I vaguely remember her fighting roaches in our villa. We had a small yard with a swing set and my little brother Darby, about four at the time, enjoyed playing in the dirt. He ended up with worms!

And that’s the end of my Buggy Tale!

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