Woody: Guess what's bugging us

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Scientists at a university in England have discovered that approximately 3.5 trillion insects are swarming around in the air at any given time, which vindicates what my dad used to yell at us approximately 100 times a day:
"Close the darn screen door!"

Or, more wittily:
"Close the door before you let the flies out!"

Little did he know the flies were already out...along with trillions of their buzzing buddies.

Further research into the swarming insects found the greatest migration occurs during the winter as they travel to warmer climes. In other words, a lot of the bugs are on their way from Cleveland to Florida, where they spend the winter wearing Berumda shorts and black socks and complaining about how much better things are in Cleveland.

Another interesting factoid: over half of the frequent fliers reported their luggage had been lost en route. (Would bug luggage be called buggage?)

The scientists seemed astonished at the sheer number of flying insects -- 3.5 trillion -- but I'm not at all surprised. We had at least that many buzzing around inside our tent in an average night when we used to go camping.

The 'skeeters' that thrived around the Soggy Bog Campground were particularly vicious. When you slapped one it would slap you back. We started every day with breakfast and a transfusion.

As bad as the 'skeeters' were at night, during the day the horse flies were worse. Horse flies got their name because they have been known to carry off a full-grown horse. Their bite packs a vicious punch -- they are the Mike Tysons of the insect kingdom.

In addition to 'skeeters' and horse flies, our campsite was infested with ants. Every time you sat on the ground they would crawl up your legs and get in your hair, ears, nose and, various, other places you normally don't find ants.

At lunchtime the ants got cranky if we were late serving chow; they would start banging on their tiny tin plates with tiny tin cups.

Then there were the chiggers. Even if you've never actually seen a chigger, you're probably familiar with its work. When one of the microscopic red bugs bites you, it leaves a big, itchy bump. In terms of size of bump-per-bug, a chigger ranks at the top of the chart.

Like ants, chiggers have a knack for going places where no chigger has gone before.

It has been predicted the planet will eventually be taken over by insects; that mankind is just briefly flitting through the Screen Door of Life. That's why I like bats -- a bat can eat its weight in insects every night. (My cousin Ralph can do the same with cheeseburgers.)

Back in the good old days we knew how to handle a problem insect: we squashed it. But we can't do that anymore without incurring the wrath of PETA. The PETA folks don't believe in harming a bug, because even a bug has a mother. (I wonder what a PETA person would do if a chigger suddenly clamped down on a particularly personal part of their person, since they couldn't scratch without roughing up the little guy?)

I don't care what PETA says -- if a bug bites me, I'm sending in the SWAT team. What's one irritating pest more or less? There's 3.5 trillion more where it came from, and that's not even counting politicians.

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Larry Woody
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