Living in Sydney

Bug out [try not to]

After having had a standoff with a cockroach for three days I decided to talk about it, and what you can do to make your stay in Australia just a little less...pesty. Pesty? Buggy? Creepy?

After having had a standoff with a cockroach for three days I decided to talk about it, and what you can do to make your stay in Australia just a little less…pesty. Pesty? Buggy? Creepy?

It’s all of those things if  you don’t expect a roach the size of your hand in your tub.

What?! They’re how big?!

Look at your hand; I’ve got smaller hands than you but an insect the size of any hand is still pretty alarming when, if you’re like me, you’re accustomed to seeing insects no bigger than a quarter (50p coin). So when I first arrived and one decided to give me a heartfelt welcome it was met with a combination of fear, confusion, and mild aggression.

For the past three days after my workouts I’ve gone to the bathroom with the intent to bathe only to be greeted by a six-legged adversary who insisted on making my bathroom its new home. Those same three encounters had been met with an empty can of Raid.

After having been fed up with its foolery I took my bottle of Dettol (for Americans it’s the International 409) and, being an American with an expert trigger finger from FPS video games, emptied a third of the bottle on it before it finally flipped over dying. It started looking less like a bug incident and more like the climax of a Die Hard film. It tried crawling up the walls to escape only to be met by more shots from me; tried crawling out the tub only to be met with faster shots; and finally after having had enough it flipped over. Now being a roach it was still alive, so I put some toilet paper over it before giving it the foot stomp.

Excessive? Yes. Have anymore come back? No.

They got the messagethat and I left the body of one of their flying comrades on my window as a warning.

Is that even normal?

I would like to say that it’s because it’s Australia and that everything here is extreme, but then there is Texas and all its extremes, however it’s simply the climate and isolation factors that have allowed these guys to grow so large. The largest insect is in New Zealand! It looks like a giant cricket…kind of adorable…still not cute enough to sit on my bed for a 2am surprise, but it’s these factors that have contributed to the large insect population and size in this region.

Not my hand, not my personal photo. Just the Weta: the largest insect in the world. (P.S. Never touching one!)

Wha-what am I supposed to do?

So a few things about the wildlife here in Australia, bugs included:

  • They are just as chill as the humans
  • They will leave you alone 90% of the time so long as you don’t touch them
  • The only thing you need to worry about are the mosquitoes (mozzies), bush flies (any type of fly  they have really), and two spiders (not the whole lot of them, just two)

The animals here aren’t like your typical wildlife in every sense of the idea including how they view people. I walked up to a lizard, and later a little red spider, and they didn’t even flinch. Okay the lizard ran but he’s a lizard they run; but generally nature here will leave you alone as long as you mind your own. Same goes for snakes: be careful where you step, and if you see one stomp the ground and make noise (DISCLAIMER: this is advice from other travelers so don’t sue me if nature happens and you get bit). I went hiking a couple times and forgot snakes were a thing because I figured they’d leave me alone, and sure enough it was the bushes that injured me rather than the animals.

Now about that remaining 10% of insects and nature:

  • Mozzies have always been the bane of human existence and can be repelled with an effective bug spray. I use Off! because it’s what I grew up with and it’s saved me on the farmland of North Carolina
  • Bush flies are like your annoying coworker, named Dave, at work who insists on following you around  the office ignoring the rules of personal space. I’ve used a bug spray for them as an experiment, but I’ve learned that they can be swatted away with a hand and can’t land on you if you’re actively moving. Aside from that…Dave will keep following you until you’re out of range. I’m still trying to figure them out. They don’t bite, but it still makes you feel gross.
  • And the spiders…based on my trip to the spider exhibit I’ve deduced that there are two spiders to avoidthe Redback and the Sydney Funnel Web. The redback can be found anywhere, the Sydney funnel web is in Sydney. Now both should leave you alone as long as you don’t disturb them, but the Redback must be killed ASAP for safety reasons. They may wander. Funnel webs stay in their hidey hole in the ground so don’t stick your hand in any suspicious holes with webs around them. I’ve got a redback here for reference. They look like the Black Widow spider’s biker gang cousin. As always if you suspect you have been bitten by one of these spiders head to a hospital immediately for treatment.

It sounds scarier than it actually is. I’ve been living in Australia for 6 months and have yet to encounter deathly animals. Even shark attacks are rare (it’s the jellyfish you have to worry about).

Can I…protect myself?

Bug spray and insect repellent will be your best friend.

Try not to fret about it too much! I went hiking last week and hardly saw any insects on my trip. You’ll most likely find one in your house sooner than outside. I’ve found that city bugs tend to gravitate more to humans than the ones in the woods.

You’ll be fine!

I’m still scared…

Again you’ll be fine…look how chill  these guys are!



Series: Near-death

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