Traveling Companions

Birds Down Your Pants
& the Frozen Armadillo

Don’t ask us why, but people have been stuffing all sorts of small animals down their pants for years now. They get caught all the time with hairy spiders, rare scorpions, slithering snakes, even live lobsters moving down their legs.
Some kind of genetic freak calling the shots on this one, that’s what we say. But when they start beating each other up with frozen armadillos, well, that’s when we step in and draw the line, for crying out loud.
So smugglers do that for a living. Fine. So two-time crooks do that on a dare, or for dope money. We understand. But even if these deviants show more nerve than noodles, we’re not about to give them a free pass to start pushing us around.
After all, these critters fetch a lot of dough in the black market, and one is never at loss for grifters out for a quick buck. The thing that gets to us, though, is when it gets personal and, instead of throwing a cellphone, as any sophisticated supermodel would, they throw a pet at Continue reading

Vermin News

Flies that Like Beer &
A Cockroach Hall of Fame

In the culinary world, eating bugs may be the last frontier. But it may take a while for your corner deli to stock dried cricket snacks.
For flies, though, the pickings are never slim; guess that’s why they like beer. And someday, there’ll be a Roach Museum in every city.
It’s all part of the exciting and fleeting world of urban vermin, those shy roommates of ours, that have been with us since we built our first cities and, most certainly, will outlast us.
Their fierce competitiveness drives us to stay a step ahead or die of starvation and disease, and much of the way we store food and develop medicines has been shaped by the threat of their omnipresence.
So much so that many a nutritionist or adventurous gourmet has been suggesting ways for us to control their population, other than taking our chances with poisoning and other unsafe extermination methods. Continue reading

Hungry? Grab a Crab

Live Seafood in Vending Machines
Hits the Spot for Chinese Commuters

They’re alive, they’re packaged in custom-fit boxes, and they’re available in three sizes. An unusual idea by a Chinese entrepreneur, to sell individually wrapped hairy crabs in automated machines at underground stations in Nanjing, has become a hit with train riders.
The crabs, which are considered a delicacy in Asian cuisine, get sedate in the 5 Celsius degrees of the machines, but are ready for consumption. A selection of bottled sauces are also available, to season the snack, that comes in small, medium and grande sizes.
Now, before you go around bad-mouthing the Chinese because of their eating habits, do we need to remind you of the several food shows on U.S. TV Continue reading

Hairy Halloweeners

Zombies Are no Match to

People’s Phobia of Spiders

Halloween is almost upon us, and the walking dead continue to bury the traditional cast of goblins, ghosts, vampires and werewolves that used to dominate the season, in the hallowed ground of popular imagination. Only one other character packs a bigger fright punch than zombies: spiders.

They’ve been around for millions of years, more species are discovered every day, and unlike all other scary monsters, they’re very much real. And guess what? they’re growing bolder, scarier, and all research done lately has only increased our paralyzing fear of them.

For however beautiful creatures spiders may be, with their intense maternal feelings, their amazing stronger-than-steel silk-making abilities, and their endearing habit of liquefying their prey, they still can’t shake their reputation as overlords of both the crevices of the real world and of our most intimate nightmares.

Science has often come to the rescue of arachnophobes everywhere, who’re helpless to ward off their deep-seated fear of these crawlers. Discoveries in medicine and promising psychological therapies have been developed in order to find ways of soothing such fears, to not much avail, we must say.

For example, the lethal poison of the Brazilian Wandering spider, for which there’s no antidote, may one day replace Viagra-like therapies in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, according to a recent study. Great, right? But then, along comes the Trogloraptor marchingtoni, or ‘cave robber,’ a recently discovered species with a horrendous set of claws, and we’re back into our fetal position.


Two separate studies about our fear of spiders and snakes, have concluded that, first, it may date back to early mammals, who had to quickly identify sources of potential harm, in order to survive in a world dominated by reptiles. Secondly, being afraid of them also distorts our perception of their size and we wound up thinking they’re bigger than they really are.

Both studies may one day lead to new therapies to easy people’s phobias against the two species. That’s wonderful. Until you read about a woman who had a spider living inside her ear for a week, and the hair behind your neck goes into instant shock mode. Even if there are questions as to whether this really happened, just the thought of it makes us literally cover our ears, say, forever.

And more. From the mild-fear inducing spectacle of watching a spider molt, to the invasion of large, biting ones that happened last summer in Gauhati, India, to their remarkable ability of not just walking on their sticky webs without getting glued to it, but dousing them with poison, so to keep ants off them, we keep learning more and more about spiders.

Generally scary things, of course. So, even though there’s merit in using an imaginary invasion of zombies to educate the public for a potential virus outbreak, as done by the CDC recently, all we can say is: we don’t need no stinking zombies to feel utterly terrified. And, as with every phobia, we can’t get enough of it.


So during Halloween, along with all creepy but mostly fictional creatures that are part of the fun of it, there’s one critter that’s not just real, but scarier for a percentage of the population. For these folks, the ‘eight-leg freaks’ surpass even the fear of the walking dead, and many would be glad to spend a night at a cemetery but never in a room they knew there was a spider hidden somewhere.

For us, the final straw happened just the other day, live during a news broadcast program in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Todd Kunz, the anchor, was delivering the news when a spider started a long, skin-tingling descent and landed right next to his lapel mike. Kunz haven’t lost his composure, brave man. We would’ve screamed so hard we bet the studio floodlights would have exploded.

It took us a while to recover, but now we’re happy to report that we’re fine, calm, and collected. Incidentally, we’re about to watch our favorite seasonal movie, one that we’ve been watching at least twice a year since it came out. A real classic and our personal favorite. Great story, wonderful actors. A family movie, really. We’re about to press play to watch yet again, Arachnophobia.


Read Also

* Eight Legs

* Bug Time