Shoe Spiders, Wall Wasps, and Giant Centipedes: Tell Me Your Worst Bug Stories

This is just as gross as you think it's going to be.

Jul 11, 2013 at 10:30am | Leave a comment

A couple weeks ago, I felt a pebble in my shoe. Not thinking it odd, I unlaced my shoe and dumped the pebble out -- only to watch it sprout eight legs upon hitting the floor. As it skittered away, I realized the “pebble” had been a quarter-sized spider. 
 
After I coaxed myself down off the ceiling (I’d also pried my other shoe off my foot, just in case) I took pictures.
 
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It really was that big.

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The spider and the shoe it got ejected from. No idea what the little white light is. Do spider eyes reflect camera flashes like cats’ do?

 
I have a long, bad history of bugs invading my living space and making themselves known in the absolute worst ways. Some of this can be put down to being dumb and poor. (Pro tip: if you see multiple bug corpses in a shower while touring a rental property, don’t sign up for it). But I’ve also had bugs invade in spiffy condos where everyone did the dishes, so now in my weariness I simply repeat to myself: “It's impossible to bug proof your home completely,” then try not to think too hard about it when I’m lying in bed feeling itchy. Maybe I give off some kind of hormone, like that kid in that "X-Files" episode.
 
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The same week I emailed the pitch for this article, I realized a wasp had gotten in the house through the crack above the screen door. Then I looked in the right-hand corner...

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...and realized it was BUILDING A NEST. I immediately set it on fire-- I mean, smashed it with a screwdriver.

 
In fact, one of my worst bug memories happened in grade school, when I lived in a spick-and-span two-bedroom with my mom. As a lazy pre-teen I often thought the house was TOO clean, as mom was capable of finding a speck of lint on a just-vacuumed floor. Then one summer it rained so hard the streets flooded... and the centipedes came.
 
My room had a heat register, and one night I looked up to see what looked like a fringe of eyelashes sticking up from behind it.
 
“What the heck is that?” I thought, only to see them MOVE. This was when I realized with mounting horror that the fringe was actually the wispy legs of a “thousand legger” clinging to the wall behind the register.
 
I have many more memorable bug stories, such as the time when my basement bathroom was overrun by a still-unidentified palm-sized bug that hopped. Or the time a huge moth flew into the house and actually caught fire against a light bulb (cue me and mom trying to chase a smoking bug out of the house with newspapers). The only story that I have that actually has me getting revenge on the bugs, however, happened when I was in college.
 
At the end of freshman year, I opted not to go home and instead found a job on the college ground crew. By day I helped replace broken furniture in dorm rooms, collected trash and pulled weeds. By night, I retired to a rickety student apartment that has since become so infamous that it has its own Facebook page. At the time, however, I didn’t care where I slept: the physical work every day exhausted me, I was depressed from a broken relationship, and I never bothered to unpack, taking my clothes from a cardboard box every morning. When I saw a couple wasps buzzing around my window, I didn’t think anything of it, because I couldn’t see a nest.
 
One night, I jerked out of a sound sleep after what felt like a hot pin was stabbed into my naked ass (single room + no air conditioning = a lot of nude sleeping). Half awake, I staggered around peering around boxes and testing my locked door in case one of my housemates had inexplicably decided to torture me, then passed out again.
 
The next night, I sat down on my bed and felt what I thought was a discarded ibuprofen under my butt, only to scream and fling it across the room when I realized it had eyes. The “ibuprofen” started buzzing in midair, and I watched it loop through a graceful turn and disappear into a tiny hole in the wall. After much panicked scrambling around I used the only thing I had, and covered the hole with clear packing tape.
 
The next morning I examined the hole more closely and realized that wasps had somehow come in from a crack in the outside and chewed their way through my wall. Even now, they were gnawing at the packing tape with huge pincers, so I slapped three more layers on and went to my job, where I told the ground crew boss that there were WASPS coming through my BEDROOM WALL and could I take the morning off to buy bug spray or something? My boss, who had listened to my panicked recitation calmly, told me to do my work as usual. He’d take care of it during lunch.
 
I remember feeling alternately freaked out and resigned that morning. Half of me wanted to revolt and run to the hardware store to buy a bug bomb, while the other half was deeply concerned about doing what my boss told me so I could continue paying rent. In hindsight, I had no idea how to deal with this situation, and I couldn’t imagine what my boss had in mind.
 
When lunchtime rolled around, my boss followed me back to my apartment with a gun that squirted expanding foam insulation, stuck the nozzle in the hole, and let fly. The wasp buzzing behind the wall rose to a roar as their home was invaded... then went silent as the expanding foam entombed them. A dollop of foam oozed out of the hole, hardening as it was exposed to the air, and my boss neatly lopped it off flush with the wall with his pocketknife. 
 
Then we went to go get lunch.