Tuesday, 11 April 2017

I = Insects ( with a tenuous link to Cary Grant)

 'Oh, you're Australian. I'd love to go there, but I'm too afraid of all the creepy crawlies and snakes and things.' 

We've only been here in the UK for a few months, and already I have heard that response, or some version of it, more times than I would care to count. Something has given people here the impression that we have bugs the size of German Shepherds. 

Most of these un-intrepid travellers cite their fear of spiders as the reason for not visiting Oz. (Yes, I know spiders are not insects, but work with me here. A bit of latitude won't hurt anyone.) 
One Australian has died of a spider bite in the past 38 years. 
One. 
Single. 
Individual.

In the same amount of time, some twenty Brits out walking their dogs have been crushed, trampled or butted to death by cows. I seriously doubt that a single person has ever cited bovinaphobia as a reason for not travelling to any country anywhere. Nor can I imagine that cow-killings have ever stopped anyone from walking their dog.


Mather's Fly Paper plate, England 1863-1900
On display Medicine Man gallery, Wellcome Collection
Besides, the Antipodes hardly has exclusive rights to insects. The dinner-sized china plate pictured, its border jauntily decorated with flies, ants, wasps and mosquitoes, was once a practical advertisement for Mather's Fly Paper. It's also proof that Brits have been dealing with annoying insects for a bloody long time. 

I imagined such crockery was strategically placed in the kitchen and dining rooms, indeed any place where hygiene is critical, so that the tacky-surfaced flypaper could snare unsuspecting and unwanted arthropod. Cooks, diners and serving-staff could then watch gleefully on as bugs failed in their many attempts to extricate themselves from their sticky predicaments, perhaps parting ways with a leg or a wing or two in their struggle.

It seems I was only half-right. Mather's Fly Paper wasn't actually sticky. It was yet another product that depended on arsenic to do its job. You had to soak the arsenic-impregnated paper in water before you popped it onto the special-purpose plate.
Mmmmmm... Arsenic at the dinner table
Wouldn't old Aunts Abby and Martha have loved that?









During the month of April, I am participating in the Blogging from A–Z Challenge.

My posts will all feature images of and by the Wellcome Collection, Euston, London: the free destination for the incurably curious.


19 comments:

  1. I'm cancelling our trip to the UK. The thought of being killed by some bovine with mad cow disease fills me with dread. Safer I stay in Australia where only the sharks will kill me.

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    1. I think that's a very safe choice. I know you already risk life and limb in the swim across the Strait, you wouldn't want to push your luck.

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  2. The thought of arsenic on the dinner table is far more worrying than a few spiders lol! Loved the fact about cows
    Debbie

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  3. I have just discovered that I have a rampant case of bovinophobia. Those cows had better mooooove over when I see them or I might scream in their ears, causing them to mooooove over! On the other hand, I like insects and arachnids. I'm ready to go to Australia and would if I didn't suffer from airplane ticket price o phobia.

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    1. Well, there is that. Australia is a very long way away from most other places. I think that's part of its charm.
      And also maybe why there are so many unique critters.

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  4. Over here in the states, we have some pretty impressive bugs if I do say so myself. My first visit to your blog so not sure which other topics you've been covering. I'll have to peruse the isles :)
    Stephanie Finnell
    KatyTrailCreations
    Quilts and Quotes theme
    @randallbychance on Twitter from
    KatyTrailCreationsLetterI
    ps Hoping my link works today. didn't yesterday

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    1. Thanks for visiting. You'll find a lot more than bugs on the shelves here. Hope you enjoy yourself.

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  5. well the stories of aussie's snakes and spiders are enough to put one off visiting, but now you have cited the cow statistics I feel sooooooo much better.

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    1. Aren't moose even more dangerous than cows?

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  6. Well I have encountered some friendly bovines in the past. when we moved to our house the cows used to wander off the grazing land and help themselves to flowers etc in front gardens. I'm hoping to brave Australia later this year. I'll try not to about the insects, spiders and snakes!

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    1. I like cows, too. The neighbours on the Rock have dairy cows that occasionally wander in to visit too.

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  7. I do hope you have informed those who worry about visiting Australia about the well known 'drop bears' they are likely to encounter! :)) In our house, sub-tropical Queensland, a small gecko, about 8cm long, wanders the white walls at night capturing any stray insects. A sleey lizard lives in our garden and in the mornings we marvel at the intricate spider webs woven overnight. Nature is rich and varied.

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    1. Oops, sleepy lizard definitely not sleazy or sleey.

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    2. Oh yes... the drop bears are almost as dangerous as the killer echidnas. I love having resident lizzies to deal with the mozzies, and I too marvel at spider webs. Never killed a spider in my life.

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  8. I am really scared of insects..I mean i literally would be running out of the room..

    Launching SIM Organics This April

    *Menaka Bharathi *

    *SimpleIndianMom*

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    1. Oh dear, I hope I didn't spoil your day with this post. Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. HaHA! I know we have cows but you have SNAKES and LIZARDS as well as God knows how many other ugly looking creatures!!!!
    Anyway, aren't you Aussies supposed to be rufty tufty!? You shouldn't be scared of a few harmless little cows!!! 🤣🤣🤣🐮🐮🐮🐮🐮

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    1. We have really amazingly cute creatures that don't live anywhere alse in the world too.
      Maybe that's the pay-off for the deadly ones.

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