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.
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
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.