In a recent Talk of the South newsletter, we asked readers, “What bug or critter gives you the willies and why?” Centipedes and palmetto bugs/cockroaches were cited most often, followed by spiders, snakes, and frogs. Among the many responses:
So many legs, such speed and stealth. Make my toes curl. —Roseann C.
They seemingly come from nowhere and are hideous to look at—particularly when in an immaculately clean home the mere lifting of a bed pillow to fluff for maximum comfort (far away from a water source) reveals one very much alive! —Gail Z.
When I was a kid, I was told not to smile if you looked at a centipede. If it counted your teeth you would die. Needless to say, as a kid it scared the heck out of me. —Robert S.
Texas redheaded centipede. That thing would not die. —Kathy O.
Yikes, just saw one tonight, one of those thousand-leg things, exiting my claw-foot tub just about the moment that I hit the bubbles. —Celia S.
Those flying palmetto bugs, or tree roaches or whatever they’re called in polite society, here in Louisiana. I don’t even want to stomp on one, because they’ve got the hardest, crunchy shell. —Carajo B.
They are just plain nasty. —Pat L.
I hate South Florida cockroaches. They are just disgusting. They are dirty, big, fly, and know how to hide. And if you step on one they make a squish noise and white guts go all over the place. —Lourdes F.
Palmetto bugs because they are huge, their antennas move, and they can read my mind. —Denise P.
I had never seen a palmetto bug until moving to Florida in my younger days. Saw a swarm after a road crew raised a manhole cover; they streamed out like a flood—really scary! —Sue B.
They are sneaky and insidious and if they disappeared off the planet I would not miss them for a minute. —Cara B.
The brown recluse spider. I got bitten by one on the ankle twenty-five years ago. The healing process was six months, two skin grafts, and learning to walk without assistance. Lesson learned: Do not wait a week to seek medical treatment. —John W.
The creepy hairy jumping wolf spider is to me, the creepiest critter that God made. I’m not really sure why. They’re hairy and creepy and LARGE and will jump right on you! They really give me the heebie-jeebies. —Deborah F.
I don’t mind possums, snakes, armadillos, or skunks, but spiders I simply can not handle. —Julie S.
Snakes. ANY snake. Good, bad, ugly, you name it. They all give me the willies and the jibber-jabbers. They slither, their beady eyes, that tongue striking out. It doesn’t matter if it is the good rat snake or that crazy poisonous copperhead. I want NOTHING to do with any of them, much less see any of them. —Pam T.
Snakes! Poisonous or non-poisonous. —Ron C.
Big ole snakes. —David W.
I know that I am deeply upset about something when there is a snake in my dreams. It doesn’t have to threaten or strike—can be really benign—but just that a snake somehow appeared in a dream makes me evaluate what is really going on in my head. —Mary L.
Tree frogs. Suction footed, peeing on you, jumping six feet frogs. They gross me out. —Wendy P.
I’m Georgia born and raised, but I swear I will walk a mile out of my way to go around a frog. Not ashamed to admit that I sat in my car for over an hour one night because a frog was on my porch blocking my front door! I know, I know … bless my heart. —Christy B.
Sticky frogs. The surprise attack you receive from the cool, yet sticky, tree frog as you sit on your porch enjoying the rain. —Angela C.
Skeeters. Skeeters, the size of blue jays. —Michael M.
Anything that leaps, hops, slithers, crawls, flies or jumps. —Vonnie B.
Earwigs. Those pincers! —Kim B.
Living in upstate South Carolina is truly a blessing. That said, we sure have our share of creepy crawlers. Ewww. But whenever I see one of these wide gecko-type lizards I want to run and scream. They are harmless but … I could live without them. —Sharon P.
Mice. —Alexandra A.
Redbugs. They are tiny, vicious and give no quarter. They seem to be attracted to me. I can be in a field and the person next to me gets nothing. I go home and literally have a hundred bites. They are nightmares in the flesh. —Kim S.
When I am out walking the dog at night and see an opossum under my mulberry tree or in the front yard it always scares me a little bit because they look like ghosts. But I love them because they are great for pest control, eating mice, rats, insects, and lots of ticks. —Maria R.
Unquestionably, it’s silverfish. They are creepy, they are catfish look-alikes, they play possum, and they can be found anywhere in the house. Nobody really knows how to get rid of them. —Amelie S.
As a deep-fried Southerner, I fear hornets the most. Why, you ask? They hurt! A lot!— Jim B.
The no-see ums torment me, and snakes give me the heebie-jeebies. —Kim H.
I can get through the snake thing, but I get willies from scorpions. They come right at you with their tail curved up and ready to strike. The brown recluse is so sneaky that it also gives me the willies. —Sandy W.
Cicadas. I love to hear them, but to see them in person, up close … freaks me completely out. It’s those bug eyes. —Cheryl R.
Fire ants sting smartly, and ticks, even after removal, continue to irritate. —Lillian S.
Rats. I grew up in a wooden house right at the beach on St. Simons Island. Big rats would get into our house, mostly in the attic. When I went off to college, my mom stored in the attic all my dolls and the beautiful doll clothes my great-aunt Honey had made for me. The rats made nests in them and chewed the dolls up. So, I really hate rats. —Sissy L.
Anything with more than four legs. —Robin H.
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