Sunday, January 20, 2008

Good Bug, Bad Bugs

The tropics have a reputation for bugs. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “You’re moving to the tropics with all those icky bugs?” Well you’ll be pleased to know that there don’t seem to be any more bugs here than other places I’ve lived. Of course when I say that, you must realize that my pantry in Salt Lake was infested with pantry pests (moths), Montana is over run with tics and mosquitoes during the warmer months and I got Lyme disease twice in northern Europe. So far the worst I’ve experienced here are some tiny ants that like to come through the back porch and into my kitchen and the odd mosquito that comes through the unscreened windows to bite me while I sleep. Most of the bugs around are what I’d call “good bugs”.

Trinidad is reputed to have hundreds of species of butterflies. While I haven’t seen that many different kinds, I do regularly see several different butterfly species on my morning walk to work. The species I see most commonly is a red and black butterfly called a coolie that frequents the flowers that grow in the drainage ditches.

I also see quite a few common yellow butterflies and small yellow butterflies with black tipped wings. Occasionally I see others as well. Earlier this week I saw one of the Monarchs that migrate here from North America during the winter months. I have no idea how a butterfly can make it this far south. Even following the chain of islands, there is a lot of open water to cross and with the occasional tropical storm or hurricane to boot. It’s hard to imagine how something as delicate as a butterfly could make it through all that.

In addition to the butterflies, I see a lot of different kinds of dragon flies. The large blue and purple ones that like our little neighborhood seem almost as big as the hummingbirds that visit the wild sage bush in our yard. Last night when I was coming home just about sunset, Hongloo and Sherika (a visiting professor from India and his wife who live 2 doors down), were sitting out on their porch. They invited me to visit for a while. While I sat with them watching the sunset, I discovered that we have fireflies here. There aren’t as many of them as I remember seeing in Pennsylvania summers as a kid, at least not at this time of year, but I did see a few of them lighting up hovering around the Mango trees.

Thursday, Annabelle, the lawyer who lives with her three children between our place and Hongloo’s, gave me some poisonous white powder to sprinkle along the edge of the back porch as a barrier to the ants. I sprinkled a thin line of it all along the edge of the back porch and thus far it’s been keeping the ants at bay. The troop of ants that had found its way under the back door, along the baseboards and up the wall into my cupboard is all gone. So right now I’m thinking that tropical bugs just aren’t that formidable and in fact, many of them are downright lovely.

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