In my life, I’ve been bitten or stung exactly seven times: a black fly, three bees, two wasps, and a spider. Four of those times, I’ve ended up hospitalized. But my phobia of bugs predates these events. For years, seeing a bug or spider was an occasion of terror. This fact makes gardening an interesting choice for me.
I spent about 15 years in Nebraska where we moved into a house built in 1905. Old. The washer and dryer were in the basement. I saw a bug crawling across the floor on my first trip downstairs to do the wash. I didn’t make it all the way down and I didn’t go back down for seven years. You get the picture.
Even today, I get a creepy feeling down my spine when I see a bug I don’t expect to see. Since the country is just chock full of bugs and nothing to be done about it, I’ve learned to take the nearest hard object whether a book, a shoe, or a rolled up magazine, and bang away until the thing stops moving. Then I call my husband to dispose of it while I wait in another room.
I started flowers-only gardening on weekends about ten years. I learned that if I get outside at dawn, I can beat the bees to the garden. I know I’m done when the big black bees start to dive bomb me. And they do! I have one family of bees that hover in front of my bedroom window and watch me, waiting…
My Master Gardener friend and mentor, Lenora, has now educated me about good bugs. Intellectually, I get it. You need bees and butterflies for pollination, so don’t kill the bees. Spiders kill some bad bugs, so don’t kill the good spiders. I know that to garden successfully, I’m going to have to learn about bugs. I’m starting with the good ones. As long as they let me live, I will let them buzz.