Dan Naumovich: The war on bugs

Dan Naumovich

Perhaps I underestimated the Ants after all.

Not initially, mind you. I’d heard tale of their strength. Of their proficiency working in tandem toward a common goal. Of a communications network that surpasses our own cellular industry.

These attributes are difficult not to respect, however begrudgingly.

As pests go, the Ants have much to recommend themselves.

Yet they are pests nonetheless, and to keep them from invading our home I devised a plan that would play upon their strengths.

Whenever I would discover a scouting party of Ants on the kitchen counter, I’d wipe them out in a most ruthless manner. Nothing particularly clever about that; stout defenses have been cutting down marauders for thousands of years.

Except that I would always spare one. I’d let a single Ant live. That lone survivor would then be free to return to the colony and tell of the horror it had witnessed.

I imagined all work ceasing as everyone gathered around the hill to hear this shell-shocked insect relay in bloody detail the carnage that had laid its brothers and sisters to waste. They’d hear of this human, brutal and efficient as he exterminated with extreme prejudice, aided by nothing but a wet paper towel and a desire to decimate.

Then the queen, in her ultimate wisdom, would issue a fiat of some sort banning further exploration into our kitchen. It’s just not worth it, damn it. We’re losing too many good workers to that menace, she would confide in an unguarded moment.

You would think that is a how a highly organized and intelligent society would respond. But they keep coming back for more, these Ants. To the same places they know I’ll be.

What dolts.

Or are they?

I recently learned that there are in the neighborhood of 1.6 million Ants for every one of us. So, while individually these tiny-brained creatures may be dense, their intelligence arises from the collective, which is rather formidable.

The Ants know that I’m no match for their numbers. When I kill off a dozen or so from their ranks, it’s not so different from me losing a few brain cells after enjoying a couple of ales on a Saturday evening: unfortunate, but hardly game-changing.

So I’ve gotten over my Attila-the-Hun complex when it comes to conquering the Ants. We can live peacefully.

Not so, however, the Vile Flies.

If in our lifetimes, we each are called upon to battle a mortal enemy — mine would be the Vile Fly.

When it comes to their presence in my abode, I simply refuse to grant them purchase. Their demise is all that I offer.

Everything about the Vile Fly disgusts me. Its slovenly eating habits. That annoying buzz and spastic restlessness. Wretched is the Fly in the eyes of all that is good.

Yet it was the Vile Fly that taught me all-consuming hatred can be self-defeating.

Recently, one evening, the boys and I were in the bathroom brushing our teeth when the presence of a V.F. fouled the air. I quickly retrieved the swatter and shut us all in the room so there could be no escape. When I saw my chance, I struck.

What I struck was a decorative light bulb above the vanity that responded as a struck light bulb often will. Glass exploded through the air, with some landing in the boys’ hair. Fortunately, they escaped abrasion, but the shame of exposing them to injury cut me deeply.

After the boys had been de-glassed, they were dismissed from the bathroom and I commenced with cleaning up the wreckage. It was then that I spotted the Vile Fly — the creature that had humbled me and taught me to respect the boundaries of restraint.

This time my aim was true.

Dan Naumovich is a freelance writer and business copywriter. He can be reached at dan@naumo.com.