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Annoying Animals, A - Z

May 31 2016

I previously wrote a blog entitled "Catch Phrases, A - Z", in which I explained that, although I rarely have trouble sleeping, when I do, I have a strategy to get my mind off of not being able to sleep.  I create a mental challenge for myself that is engaging enough to distract me from the frustration of insomnia, but not so engaging that it becomes part of the problem.  Well, once again, I was not able to fall asleep recently, so I decided to create an alphabetical list of annoying members of the animal kingdom.  I'm not talking of scary animals or creepy animals like tarantulas or bats, I mean animals that have bad attitudes, are arrogant or inconsiderate.  Animals that are just plain annoying, starting with:


ants.  How do they know that there is a picnic going on, then  mobilize the entire colony to crash your outing?  Like certain in-laws, They're never invited, but they always show up.  Worse, they come into your house and help themselves to food there as well.  If you stomp on them, they release a pheromone that attracts more ants than before.  And don't get me started on carpenter ants who can literally eat you out of house and home, or fire ants whose bite is like being stabbed with a blisteringly hot hypodermic needle.  


black flies.  this is the name for an insect that seems to live primarily in northern New England.  Yankees, who aren't known to be extravagant with their words, call them black flies because they are, well, black... And they fly.  They don't seem to live past the middle of June, but they sure use their short lives to make ours miserable.  They fly in swarms and have a bite that, for many, results in huge swollen, red lumps. Die already!


coyotes.  Living in western Maine, there have been many years when the howl of coyotes is a regular part of our neighborhood soundtrack.  Actually, what we hear are more likely to be coy dogs, the result of inconsiderate locals who allow their pet dogs to run loose in the woods so they can do the nasty with their undomesticated cousins.  So many times we have been trying to watch TV or entertaining friends when suddenly the air is filled with a ghostly howl that makes it seem like we have been transplanted into an episode of "Scooby Doo".


dachshunds. My Uncle Frank had a pair of these devil dogs, and they were even meaner and more ornery than their crotchety owner.  Their long snarling snout and sharp teeth were right out of a Stephen King movie.  I understand dachshunds were bred to hunt rats in the sewers of Germany, which leads to two pressing questions: whose idea was it to make pets from animals that crawl through sewers and eat vermin, and when are we going to create a new breed of dog to hunt down and kill all the dachshunds in the world.


eels.  Are they fish who  want to be snakes, or wimpy snakes who would rather swim than slither?  Make up your minds  eels, your indecisiveness is getting on my nerves.


fleas.  They live on your cat; they live on your dog; they even live on you if they get the chance.  It costs a fortune to treat your pets for them, and, if you let Fido or Kitty outside for 30 seconds, they come back infested again.  fleas aren't just annoying, they bite!


Gulls. Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a lie!  Gulls are not these deeply spiritual creatures seeking birdie nirvana.  They swarm us at the beach in the hopes of a bite of stale hot dog roll, and are basically screeching bags of guano.  One bit our daughter's toe presumably because she had red nail polish on.  Jonathan Livingston is much m ore likely to be in birdie hell than birdie nirvana.


humans. I know, theologically, we are created above the animals, but scientifically we are placed in the animal kingdom.  Let's face it, even if we are the only,creatures with souls, the truth is, all the other animals on this list combined aren't as annoying as any given member of our own kind. 


iguanas.  I'm conflicted on this one, because I actually love iguanas.  What's not to like about creatures that look like dragons and are the most affectionate of the reptiles?  In fact, I've always wanted one for a pet.  When we were in Guayaquil, Ecuador, we went to a city park where thousands of these guys lived, just like squirrels in our east coast parks.  Old Ecuadorians sat on park benches and leisurely fed them lettuce.  But here's the catch.  Iguanas grow up to six feet long and climb trees.  Although no one in the Hagerstrom family experienced this, but they say that it is common for Ecuadorians, wanting to catch their breath in the shade, to experience reptilian poop landing square on their heads.  Now that's annoying.


june bugs.  They look like prunes with wings, they make a hideous buzzing sound, and they come up out of the ground in large numbers when we try to enjoy a nice spring evening.  Even if you go indoors, they buzz at your screens, thrashing into them powerfully enough that you think they might actually beat the window down.


kissing gouramis.  Back in my tropical fish nerd days, I bought a pair of kissing gouramis for my tank.  These fish have large protruding lips that they 'kiss' each other with; although its actually believed to be a test of strength.  So far, that's all pretty cool, but my two didn't ever kiss.  Even as a 15 year old tropical fish nerd, I was getting more action than these kisser fish.  Without the kissing behavior, they're just big, ugly peach colored fish that took up too much space in my tank and had the off putting name 'gouramis'.  One finally died, and the widow suddenly discovered her reflection in the glass and began kissing herself.  It was suddenly  like having a junior high girl living in my aquarium. 


lice. Anything that lives in your hair and feeds off your scalp deserves to make this list.  Getting rid of them is impossible, and the home remedies such as washing your hair with mayonnaise, are often repulsive.  And after hours of nitpicking, if you miss one almost invisible egg, by tomorrow, you'll have a thousand again. How is that possible?


maggots.  These may be the most hideous creatures on Gods green earth.  They literally make me want to vomit just looking at them.  After metamorphosis, they become houseflies. as such, they eat dog poop and then land on your food; they can see all around themselves, so they are nearly impossible to kill, and even this is a huge improvement from what they had been prior to their transition!


Nyan cat.  For the first time in human history, the world became united with the arrival of the Internet.  Information on every topic was available in milliseconds, and billions of people had the opportunity to make videos for all to see.  So what did the whole human race decide deserved our attention?  a video of an animated flying cat set to the same four notes of canned music played over and over.  One guy even posted a 24 hour Nyan cat video, and the cat still did nothing but fly past the same backdrop to the same four notes.  God help us all.


opossum.  while living in South Carolina on the mid 80's, I saw scores of possum, and they all looked the same: squashed on the highways with their entrails dragged out for yards as turkey vultures celebrated Thanksgiving with their internal organs and rotting flesh.  I figured God made opossum already dead:  road pizza for the local scavengers.  Then my mother-in-law had a live one in her yard in downtown Biddeford, Maine of all unlikely places.  She caught it in a have a heart trap, and seeing it live it was even less attractive than when they are splattered on the interstate.  It had a long snarling snout, and sharp pointed teeth.  I had to wonder if she had caught a Dauschund by mistake.


Porcupines.  These woodland creatures make the list because, not only do they eat the wood on your shed, lawn furniture and carport, they literally have hair that can penetrate your flesh.  I once ran over a dead porcupine and one quill was all it took to flatten my tire.  


quahogs.  If you're not from the coastal northeast, you may not know what this animal is.  It is a bivalve shellfish similar to a clam, oyster or mussel.  the difference is, it doesn't make pearls, like an oyster, it's not a bestselling summer meal like clams, and they don't have a cool name like mussels.  Quahogs are the posers of the invertebrate world.  "Stop trying to hang at the cool table with the oysters and mussels and go sit with the eels where you belong!"


raccoons.  sure they're cute, but if you have them in your neighborhood, you know there is no stopping them from getting into your trash.  Every summer, I spend countless morning hours picking up litter the raccoons drag around my yard the night before.  It doesn't matter that I have lids for my trash cans, bungee cords holding them on, and fifty pound rocks resting on top so they can't be opened, they figure out a way.  I swear one night I was walking downtown, and I saw a raccoon open a combination lock on a dumpster, lift the lid without a sound, text his family and friends to notify them of his discovery,carry over a step ladder, set it up and use it to climb inside For a late night snack.


sharks.  Picture it, you're at the beach for a relaxing day with the family.  The sun is warm, the water azure blue, and you're swimming with the kids. Then a half ton fish with razor sharp teeth bites your leg off.  How rude!


Termites.  Imagine you return home from vacation.  You enjoyed your week on the shore without so much as a single shark encounter, only to find that your home has been reduced to a pile of sawdust, and by creatures the size of almonds that have even  fewer brain cells than Willie Nelson.  Putting termites on this list is a no brainier.


unicorns.  If sharks are the neighborhood bullies of the animal kingdom, and quahogs are the nerdy wannabes, then unicorns are the self important beauty queens. "Oh, look at me, I'm beautiful.  Look at me, I'm magical.  I have this majestic horn on my forehead."  You are as much a part of many fantasies as beauty queens are, too.  But  you're also just as fake.


voles.  This is just another name for field mice.  don't let Mickey, Minnie or Mighty Mouse fool you, these rodents aren't cute and they aren't superheroes.  We get them in our summer home in northern Maine every year; they poop on the counters, urinate in the walls, and keep us awake with scratching noises many a night.  One time we put out Decon to get rid of them, but they didn't take the bait.  A few days later all the Decon pellets were discovered in my wife's knitting basket.  They were sending us a message.


whippoorwill.  And here it is; the motivation behind this blog.  The whole reason for my insomnia the other night was because one of these beasts has chosen the pine tree right outside our bedroom window for his home.  If you're not familiar with whippoorwills, they are a bird that get their name from their incessant cry of "WHIP- poor-WILL" on summer nights.  not even early mornings .Nights.  ALL night.  His chanting woke both Sue and me up thinking a car alarm was going off, that's how piercing and continuous their cry is.  upon researching them, the worlds record is 1088 repetitions of "WHIP-poor-WILL" without a breath.  not that their taking a breath matters. That brief moment of silence exists just to give those of us trying to sleep a false hope that it's over.  but it's never over.  we also learned that they are a master of camouflage.  If they were the size of turkeys or the color of parrots, I'd be able to hunt them down and whip them 1088 times without stopping.  But as it is, they are rarely ever seen, but always heard.


I can not think of any animal whose name starts with X.  Let me know if you know of any.


yellow jackets. Like sharks, these guys are just bullies. Like Mr. Miyagi in " the Karate Kid", bees live among us peacefully unless provoked.  Yellow jackets are more like Biff from "Back to the Future"; loud mouth jerks that chase you down merely because they can.


zebra danios.  Another reference to my tropical fish days.  These are a school fish that are among the fastest swimmers in the fish tank.  They get their name from the black and silver / white stripes that make them all look basically the same.  I remember purchasing some  one day at the pet shop.  I told the high school kid working their the exact two I wanted to purchase.  Never mind they all looked the same and could out swim his net with one fin tied behind their back.  Every time he went for the ones I wanted, the school of 50 mixed  together so fast it was impossible to know which ones I had selected.  The poor kid would still be trying to catch those exact two fish if I didn't change my mind and get kissing gouramis instead.  And we all know how that turned out.

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