Skepticism

AI: Creepy crawlies

Hello all!

A.Real.Girl is on tour with the band… or something like that and needs someone to cover for her AI today. Plus, I was a slacker last week and had Karen cover for me. So I’m covering for A for today’s Afternoon Inquisition. A will cover for Karen next week and sometime next month, Sam’s head will explode and he’ll send out 3 AI’s in one day.

Everyone got that? Right.

This morning,  I was listening to the latest Amateur Scientist Podcast where he mentions how people have told him to get bat boxes. He said he refused because the last thing he needs is more bats in his life.  As someone who has had the exact same conversation with her bat-loving husband, I found myself yelling and cheering along to this sentiment and started a bit of a bat argument on Twitter.

Sorry, people, I know they’re useful and eat mosquitoes etc. But really, they creep me out.

What’s the most useful creature that creeps you right the hell out?

Image courtesy CyberLizard on Twitter
Image courtesy CyberLizard on Twitter. (ETA: I know, not a bat. But creepy!)

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

Masala Skeptic

Maria Walters (a.k.a. Masala Skeptic) has spent a lot of time in ‘furrin parts,’ including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Pittsburgh. Although her passport is from India, she’s spent most of her adult life in the United States. She currently lives in Atlanta and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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115 Comments

  1. Snakes. Can’t stand them. I know the ones around my house keep other animals in check but I can’t handle being anywhere near them.

    I can deal with bats since they pretty much leave me alone. Spiders are OK too, except for the ones that insist on spinning webs across my front walk.

  2. @Masala Skeptic: Seriously. Someone once had me make a balloon aye-aye, and it creeped me out so much I didn’t even take a picture of it, like I normally do with new creations. I kinda wish I had, but I’m pretty sure that’s just because my memory of what it looked like has faded.

  3. @MarlowePI: Centipedes have always creeped me out, as I grew up in an old stone house and they were a constant nuisance. My parents would always try to tell me that they eat spiders to console me (see my above statement), but ewwwwww. They look like moustaches running up the wall.

  4. Why y’all gotta be hatin’ on the spiders? I dig spiders. We’ve got a bunch of wolf spiders running around my house. One comes out and runs across the living room floor every night around 11pm like clockwork. The really cool thing is that they carry their babies around on their backs; hundreds of the lil cuties!

  5. Back in the 80’s my dad owned a pharmacy a short distance from Houston. One day I went into work and dad says ‘watch your head, we have bats today’. Every once in a while a lil brown bat would fly around the pharmacy and fountain area freaking out the old blue haired ladies. After a couple of days of this, we had to do something or start loosing business. So started the search for where the lil buggers were getting in. I never found how they got in, but did find a ball of them in a corner of the stockroom. I mean a BIG BALL… there must have been thousands of em. The ball was a good 5 feet across. As soon as I touched it, POOF !! hundreds would take flight and immediately, I started hearing people screaming in the pharmacy.

    I took a while to come up with a plan. I made a very large hoop, kinda like the one you would use for monster bubbles only much larger, about 4 feet on a side. Then took industrial sized trashbag and duct taped it to the hoop. Ran it along the wall at noon (in order to get the most of em sleeping in the ball) and got about 95% of them in the bag. I punched holes in the bag and tied it up for disposal later that night. I went out after sunset and let them free in a pasture about 10 miles out of town.

    Two days later they were back. Dad would not let me be so considerate this time. We left the bag without holes and put a sponge soaked with ether in and waited for the fluttering to stop. I have never felt that guilty again. poor bats. and they were the cute ones we have here in Texas. :(

  6. I’ve refused to return to rooms where I’ve seen big spiders. I was hearing a story about a girl who was covered in spider bites, and inspected her room to find none, then opened her mattress. I told him to stop there, I didn’t want to hear the rest of the story.

    Have you ever heard of housekeepers? I don’t know if they’re real, but I’ve been told they can be the size of a dinner plate, but tame enough to pet. If I saw one of those, I wouldn’t call an exterminator, I’d call a real estate agent.

    Sharks scare the g-willikers out of me. Occasionally, I’ll go through a spell where I’ll get up off the floor, or not shower because of the scary fish.

    I guess I have a fear of thigs too many together. Centipedes and millipedes don’t bother me though, because its the different segments with an acceptable number of legs.

    And if anyone posts pics of these, I’m going to give Jennie McCarthy you phone number and have her call you ever day!

  7. If it’s not poisonous, it doesn’t tend to bother me, but I grew up in the middle of the desert. We used to poke scorpions to piss them off. Lol

    I was all excited yesterday because I saw a lizard at my new apartment complex!! And I live in the middle of the city! I squealed. It was such a cute little lizard!

    I am a dork.

  8. Crickets. Holy crap! I used to live in a basement apartment and around this time of year one (or more) would get into my place each day and chirp all night long. I don’t know how useful they are, but whenever I saw them scuttle across the carpet a chill would go up my spine. They were really hard to get rid of, too. I would try to catch them in a container and dump them in the bushes outside, but they almost aways ended up back in my apartment the next day. Creeped me the hell out.

    Spiders are a close second.

  9. @jrpowell: I really don’t find those giant social caterpillars creepy! They are kinda cute!

    I might sing a different tune of there was a TON in one spot, but caterpillars don’t seem that creepy or weird to me. There are so many uglier bugs out there — caterpillars seem so harmless. And fuzzzzy!

    But I’m used to scoprions and turantulas and lizards as big as a cat. Once my mom opened the front door only to find a rattle snake curled up at the doorstep. And once baby snakes fell on my head from the vent as I was laying on the living room floor watching tv.

    http://www.flowers.vg/flowers/spider-potato.htm <– THAT is the only thing that has ever caused me to scream, when it fell on my head in the shower. SHUDDER.

  10. Oh and I’m not a fan of those HUGE moths the size of my hand, because they would get into EVERYTHING — printers, lights, everything. Ugh.

    And stink bugs, those suck.

    What are those beatles with super colorful backs? I remember those but I can’t remember what they are called.

    Oh and cicadas are ANNOYING and the skint hey leave behind is kind of gross.

  11. I really can’t think of anything that creeps me out by it’s mere existence. A spider suddenly crawling out of my underwear would give me a start, but a spider on the ceiling of the bedroom is a welcome guest. (Fortunately I have a like-minded spouse.) Snakes and bats are way too cool to creep me.

    For irrational fear I still have the needle thing so I suppose a big fat spider coming at me with a hypodermic (that should be a nice mental image for all those arachnophobes in here) would put me into an instant coma.

  12. @davew: “but a spider on the ceiling of the bedroom is a welcome guest. ”

    What about the spider I just posted? I am not easily freaked out by spiders, but that … was not a fun experience.

    OH I HATE WASPS!! They fly and sting. And bees kind of freak me out if there is more than one of them around. I blame My Girl for that one. Thomas J :(

  13. Bedbugs are gag-reflex creepy-the way they infest. I’m dealing with them. I read that they die at 113, and the eggs die at 115, so, I’m getting some heaters together, and am gonna turn my room into a sauna.

    DIE! BEDBUGS! DIE!

    *Note: I’m not saying that because I hate bugs in general, I just hate bugs that bite you, and keep you up at night.

  14. @infinitemonkey: Bring your bed to Phoenix in July. We’ll put it in the parking lot at work which can reach well above 120 in the middle of the summer (no shade, and we’re surrounded by white concrete and blacktop, essentially a big outdoor heater).

    I’ve never encountered a bed bug. Maybe living in the desert is why?

  15. Wasps. Especially the skinny black or brown ones. Sure they pollinate all sorts of plants and eat other insects that I also dislike, and generally help to keep our delicate ecosystem in half-decent balance… but if I can ignore all that for a moment, I would be just fine if they all spontaneously dropped dead one day.

    Cicadas creep me out too, but I don’t know how useful they are and I don’t wish Familicide upon them.

  16. @infinitemonkey: From my research, we have ’em too, just not at such a large rate because of the heat (I suspect they tend to be worse in the winter here). The problem I’m seeing is that they also hide out in other areas — rugs, carpet, chairs — and could possibly be in OTHER parts of your home.

    For the record, german roaches LOVELOVELOVE Phoenix. I had to move out of an old apartment it was so bad.

    I just moved, I’m finishing up today in fact, and guess what I saw this morning in my previously roach-free new apartment? A roach. I somehow brought it with me, even though I did all I could not to. FUCK NUTS.

    Thankfully my apartment is in prime condition to pre-treat so they don’t make a home there, and catch it before an infestation starts, but daaaamn :(

  17. @infinitemonkey: “And if it weren’t for the big scary bugs you have, I’d move there.”

    Eeeh, I haven’t seen a true BUG (as in, something other than city bugs like roaches and moths) in FOREVER. I live in the middle of the city. The big scary bugs and scorpions are on the outskirts. :) I kind of miss them.

  18. @marilove: What about the spider I just posted?

    I could certainly be startled by a spider unexpectedly falling on my head, but then again I could get startled by a cute, fluffy kitten unexpectedly falling on my head. I think the original question was more directed at irrational responses.

  19. @infinemonkey: I have had bedbugs and they suck. I was creeped out to go in my bedroom for a while because they were in there. If you spray them with rubbing alcohol it kills them almost instantly.

    I’ve got to say I’m creeped out by anything with more than 4 legs.

  20. Slugs. Especially the giant banana slugs we have around here. They’re big and slimy and awful. (Snails are fine, though.) Also, snake, eels, and leeches… Things without legs, really. (I love spiders.)

    My sister is creeped out by squirrels. It’s hilarious to watch her in a park.

  21. I grew up browsing through a huge set of wildlife picture cards. I hated flukes and tapeworms most but I’m not as adverse to those anymore. No animal creeps me out totally under controlled conditions – like, behind class. I find most fascinating to observe. But, I do get the willies when spiders are in the house – I put them outside. I don’t like maggots or mealworms so, I guess you can say they creep me out.

    LOVE bats!

    Mostly, it’s certain people who creep me out the most.

  22. @infinitemonkey: What is up with that? It isn’t like the sharks can swim through your water pipes and get you and they certainly can’t crawl across the floor. Most require saltwater to survive, most are not even dangerous (think Whale shark or nurse shark).

    @the Procrastinatrix: What, you mean the sort that make movies about gay cowboys eating pudding? http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/150599

    I don’t think there is much that creeps me out, except maybe that aye-aye

  23. @killyosaur42: Oh, an aye-aye! I missed that part. It will undoubtedly make an appearance in some future nightmare, though, in some form or another…

    I really want a bat box. Bats are gorgeous. I’m just not sure how my neighbors would take it… I want to keep bees, too, but my husband is afeared of those. Those, and snakes. And worms. Sighhh… It’s exasperating being the butch one sometimes.

  24. Nothing creeps me out too much if it is out in nature. It’s when things are in my house that I have a problem with them. Things like centipedes. Ick. And if that spider-eating tidbit is true, I dislike centipedes even more. I love spiders-elegant and sinister at the same time, like the evil queen in a fairy tale.

    Birds totally creep me out. Those empty, beady eyes. Doesn’t help that most of the birds I encounter are filthy city pigeons.

  25. I can’t think of anything that really creeps me out. Giant hornets are creepy, but they are ok. The shows on discovery or TLC about parasites and stuff do creep me out, but I don’t know how useful they are.

    slugs only creep me out when I step on one barefoot. Igh.

  26. Geese. Seriously, those are mean creatures.

    I tend to capture and release spiders but I have no qualms squashing them. I used to have a live and let live policy, but one morning I woke up with my eye swollen completely shut with a very obvious spider bite marking. Yep, one jerk ruined it for the entire group.

  27. I like spiders and most creepy crawlies. 2 things that get to me though are Jellyfish and Bluebottles/Portuguese Man o’War

    I’m sure they serve their purpose in the food chain and general well-being of the oceans and whatnot, but when I’m swimming away from them in a half-mad panic and they just float after me in my slipstream, I cant help wanting them all to die.

  28. I’m not proud of this, but I have real issues dealing with coming into physical spiders. I’m generally pretty cool with them if they are in their web, or across the room, or something like that, but if I find one on me, or unexpectedly run into a web, or am surprised by one reasonably close to me, I’ve been known to spaz the fuck out over it (which usually resulted in me disgustingly holding some improvised weapon, spider parts strewn over several meters of wall, and occasionally dents/holes in the wall, depending on the size of the spider and my accuracy with whatever object I happened to have at hand.

    I know they are tiny, but I can’t help but hit them as hard as possible. srsly, those fuckers just _look_ malicious as all hell.

  29. It’s like you people have never seen a palmetto bug.

    Giant armored cockroaches with wings. They can mate in midair with single-engine planes.

    I will spend all night hunting down a spider in my bedroom with a flip-flop, but a palmetto bug makes me want a shotgun.

  30. Wasps! Evil, angry creatures bent on the destruction of mankind… well, maybe not the last part but they certainly are angry. They make me look like a fool for most of summer because the first hint of (evil) buzzing or a glimpse of yellow and black and I’m ducking, weaving and waving my hands. Makes me look like a total loon.

    Someone once told me many of them die off in the first cold snap of winter, it’s something that I’ve never fact checked in case it’s not true and I find myself without any positive points for winter ;p

  31. @phlebas: Palmetto bugs are annoying but not the worst thing ever. I saw one outside at my new place last night (LOTS of trees and water and stuff plus it’s Phoenix and therefore always warm, so it’s like a double whammy, but they spray regularly) — well, rather, my friend saw it, pointed it out with an “EW!” and I went, “OH, I haven’t seen one of those since I was a kid! COOL!” He looked at me funny. It’s kind of cool living in the middle of the city but also living in a place with LIZARDS and other wildlife. LIZARDS!!!!

    IDK, I don’t want one ON me, but it didn’t really bother me that it was there.

    Do you know what I kind of love? Those little jumping spiders. Whenever one comes around, I name it. They are my little buddies. So tiny and so cute!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mystaceus.jpg <– Just look at that face!!!

    Once a praying mantis somehow got into the office here at work. That made my day. :D We caught it and found a nice branch for it to live on.

  32. From wikepidea:

    Jumping spiders are known for their curiosity. If approached by a human hand, instead of scuttling away to safety as most spiders do, the jumping spider will usually leap and turn to face the hand. Further approach may result in the spider jumping backwards while still eyeing the hand. The tiny creature will even raise its forelimbs and hold its ground. It might even jump on the hand. Because of this contrast to other arachnids, the jumping spider is regarded as inquisitive as it is seemingly interested in whatever approaches it.

    OMG I love them.

  33. @NoAstronomer: We can share. A few maggots don’t creep me out, but I have one VIVID maggot memory. Around 7th grade, I vacationed with a friend at Perdido Bay. Lots of food waste from about a dozen people went into a 55-gallon drum. Stayed there too long. Way too long. Result: One BAZILLION maggots, with a knock-a-buzzard-off-a-shitwagon STENCH unlike I have experienced before or since.

    So, my friend’s dad finally lights a fire in the oil drum to burn the maggotty trash. I’m sitting in a car chatting with my friend KABOOM! Big thundering WHUMPH of an explosion. Turns out that my friend’s kid brother had tossed a large half-full aerosol can of pesticide into the fire. It really no-foolin’ blew the **** up. But that massive blast itself can be dismissed as trivial in comparison to something you will forever hate me for revealing.

    The explosion turned that 55-gallon drum into a Maggot Mortar.

    God………damn.

    Seriously. Burning maggotty trash shot so high it rained down onto the roof of a three-story house.

    Our world is an awesome world, that such spectacles can exist.

  34. @Alisha:
    Wasps! Evil, angry creatures bent on the destruction of mankind… well, maybe not the last part but they certainly are angry. They make me look like a fool for most of summer because the first hint of (evil) buzzing or a glimpse of yellow and black and I’m ducking, weaving and waving my hands. Makes me look like a total loon.

    I have a friend who’ll squeel like a little girl whenever a wasp is buzzing around.
    I though the funniest part was when she admitted to never actually having been stung by a wasp before.

    So how do you know it hurts so much you need to be that scared?
    In fact, if you knew how much a wasp sting hurts, you’d calm the fuck down so as not to upset the wasp and increase the chances of getting stung. Because on the odd chance you DO get stung, well, there’s definitely more painful biters/stingers out there.

  35. I think they are all kind of cute. Even spiders. I find them fascinating. What I don’t like, is wasps. The way their butt moves around all the time it looks like they cant wait to sting you to death.

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