Exotic Bugs...the things you don't think about...
Cicadas, praying mantises, and ticks...all things I didn't think about before moving to Virginia.
In deciding to stay in the United States this year as opposed to going to Peru, I thought I would avoid one of the biggest things I was dreading about living in a foreign country, and that is scary encounters with creepy bugs. It turns out that Virginia has its fair share of creepy insects. In fact, there are so many bugs in Virginia in the summer that there is such a thing called the "Virginia Wave," which essentially entails waving your hand above your head during conversations to attract the bugs away from the rest of your body.
Since arriving in Virginia I have had several rounds of bug bites, almost every one was preceded by sitting in the grass with shorts and sandals, which I discovered was not wise if I didn't want to be scratching my body for the next 3 days. The worst round of bug bites I had was after working in the office after half a dozen mosquitos had been trapped inside for a long weekend, needless to say they were quite hungry for blood.
The first foreign insect I encountered here was more annoying than creepy. During my first church service here (which was held outdoors due to covid) I was surrounded by tiny little bugs that looked like miniature bees, which I later learned the locals call "sweat bees". Much to my relief they were more annoying than harmful.
The strangest insect encounter I've had was the cicada. I had never heard of them until one night I was sitting in my office when all of a sudden, this ear piercing buzzing started. At first I thought it was an alarm of some kind but it wouldn't stop. I asked one of the students at the school what it was and they replied "Oh, it's just a cicada." to which I replied "A ci what?" They then had to explain to me that a cicada was a large insect. Thankfully some of the girls were able to help me catch and release the green pest that decided to reside in my office for the evening.
I was unaware that praying mantises existed outside of rainforests, but sure enough, one day I walked out of the dorm to see one casually perched on a rocking chair in its traditional praying position. At this point my theory about avoiding strange bugs this year was shot.
Not all of my experiences with the insect species over here have been unpleasant though. I finally got to witness the magnificent fireflies in person (fun fact - they don't exist on the west coast). It was so exciting to see them welcoming the night with their glowing light.
Okay, enough about the bugs for now. I am truly enjoying my work here and am so thankful I decided to move here this year. I can't wait to see what adventures are over the horizon.