Beeg buggas in da roof

2007-11-12 00:00

IN our house when it comes to the eviction of bugs, creepy crawlies or any other variety of “wildlife” that has strayed inside, my husband and I have divided the task according to our respective phobias.

He sees to anything that flaps, flies or has feathers. Therefore, butterflies, moths, winged beetles and birds of any description, are all his responsibility.

I take care of the wet, the wriggly and all things furry. So frogs, geckos, spiders and all forms of rodent fall into my jurisdiction. And, believe it or not, so do snakes.

They don't faze me at all and if one takes up residence behind the sofa or under the fridge, armed with my broomstick I'm able to effect a speedy eviction.

I've also rescued enormous, warty toads from the swimming pool and hairy spiders from the bath, while my man observes from a distance wearing a look of disgust.

But, let a moth or butterfly land on my shoulder and I remain paralysed in heart-stopping terror until he comes to my rescue. Despite the fear, our rule is to never kill anything. Every little trespasser is captured in an ice- cream tub, shoebox and occasionally even a toothbrush mug and conveyed to the bottom of the garden.

So to find me at six in the morning traipsing across the lawn in my negligee and gumboots, clutching a box and a broomstick is not an uncommon sight at our house.

Our mutual arrangement worked perfectly until last summer, when along came a creature that was a terrifying mix of both flapping and furry and presented a quandary as to whose duty it was to do the honours.

It was a hot and humid night with windows wide open and fans on full tilt, when in zoomed a tiny, squealing bat. It was no bigger than a butterfly - but in this instance size doesn't count.

“It's a flapper,” I shrieked, diving for cover beneath a duvet and two blankets.

“It's also furry,” yelled my man and tried to join me. But I was having none of it, so for almost two hours I lay poaching in my sauna while he stumbled about in the dark, muttering obscenities and trying to usher the mini dive bomber towards an exit.

So last week when my gardener came scuttling out from under our thatched gazebo where he'd been eating his lunch, his crazed, wild-eyed look was one I instantly recognised.

“Nkosazane,” he bellowed, “you got it bugga in da roofs.”

“What sort of bug Richard?” I asked, wondering whether to dispatch my husband.

“A beeg bugga,” hollered Richard, arms flailing wildly.

Expecting a hornet's nest, a swarm of bees or even some sort of bird (none of which fell into my jurisdiction), I grabbed my trusty broomstick and went to assess the offending “bugga”.

It turned out to be a large fruit bat hanging from the rafters and as I recoiled in terror, it peered at me with beady little eyes.

Memories of my hot and horrible night under the covers came rushing back, but in an attempt to sound nonchalant, I brandished my broom at the thing and squeaked, “ It's not a bug Richard, it's a bat.”

Mistaking his fear for confusion, I screwed up my eyes to denote blindness and beating my arms, circled about with my broom making piercing wee-wee noises.

Richard meanwhile had begun a slow but determined retreat. Finally, convinced I was about to mount my broomstick and fly away, he seized his lunchbox and took off like the clappers up the garden path.

I'm not sure what frightened him the most - the “beeg bugga” or me.

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