GUEST BLOG - Spring has sprung - with bugs

1 October, 2015

Emma Marshall joins us once again. This time, with news of creepy crawlies...

Spring has sprung and so have some of the more interesting bugs with whom we share this beautiful city of Sydney.

There is of course a popular (and reasonably accurate) view that Australia is overly blessed with creepy-crawlies.  During the Sydney winter most of them disappear to wherever bugs disappear during colder weather – Bali perhaps.  Come the first sign of spring however, they start to awaken and consider their seasonal strategy for tormenting British expats.  Here are three that you’re pretty much guaranteed to encounter:

Flies:  Australia is known for its flies.  To be fair, in Sydney we don’t have that many of them (you may disagree with this, but until you’ve been to the outback and experienced the fly population there, you don’t know what “too many flies” means).  Each season however – and after 15 years, I’m convinced of this – every Sydneysider is allocated their own personal fly.  This fly will follow them everywhere, getting in their face (sometimes even behind sunglasses), settling on their food and generally making a right bloody nuisance of itself.  But it’s your fly and you’re stuck with it until winter, so you better get used to it.

Christmas Beetles:  I love Christmas Beetles.  They are small light brown beetles that fly and which appear around November, just in time for Christmas.  They are the stupidest beetles on the planet and regularly land on their backs, little legs kicking in the air, desperately trying to right themselves.  As soon as you turn them the right way up, they fly off, hit something and end up back where they started.  They also have very sticky feet – if they land on you, it takes more than a light flick to move them; running around screaming hysterically doesn’t really work either (although this is the preferred approach of many of my UK houseguests over the years).  They are completely harmless and really quite cute – learn to love them.  And always help them to their feet when you can.

Cockroaches:  Until you have encountered a Sydney cockroach, you have no idea what the true meaning of cockroach is.  They are about 10 times the size of the average domestic cockroach in the UK.  And they fly.  They are also nearly impossible to kill without heavy chemicals.  Squashing them is messy, and often ineffective.  They shake off normal fly spray as if it were water.  The only solution is a product called “Surface Spray”.  This is designed to spray at entry points to your property to put bugs off coming in.  If you spray enough of it onto a cockroach, you can just about drown the damn thing – although it’s perfectly feasible that it’ll still be twitching the next morning.  The good news?  They’re not a sign of poor hygiene like they are in the UK.  They’re just another sign of summer.

Of course, I could continue as there are a multiplicity of other creatures that join us come summer.  Mosquitos the size of Harrier jump jets for example.  Millipedes that even my cat won’t take on.  And of course, the spiders – but they’re year round so don’t really count.  

If you’d told me all this before I moved here I probably would have thought twice, but after 15 years they are just a part of my life as they will become part of yours.  Hell, I can even relocate a spider the size of my hand with Tupperware and a strong piece of cardboard!

Comment by Sharon - front of mind for me are ants. They are everywhere. This time of year has the little armies seeking out their home for the coming summer months. I write this whilst wondering whether to ditch my Nespresso machine, which has fallen foul to this trend. Didn't realise that ants love caffeine as much as we!

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