Yes, summer is here in full bloom, bringing all of the glorious insects with it. Seen and unseen, singing mosquitoes and nonsinging mosquitoes, nits, flies, ticks and the 13- and 17-year cicadas. I am having my share of incidents with them, or should I say more than my share.

Several weeks ago, Monica Sheppard wrote about her experience with a tick and there was a lesson in it for me. When she stepped out of the shower and saw the tick slowly crawling up the shower curtains, she panicked as I would have done. From her experience I learned to take my time to get the scissors and not return speedily to a wet bathroom floor. I was saddened to know that she cracked her ribs when she slipped, and lost the tick. Ticks can only live a few days unattached to a host so maybe she does not have to worry about his whereabouts.

For some unknown reason I and the outside elements just do not agree. If there is a bug or anything that will bite, I am the target.

Several days ago, we were in the garden and I was so excited about the tomatoes that my husband had fought so hard to grow that I was not looking where I was walking and I unknowingly stepped into large fire ant nest. My foot and legs were covered quickly with the ants and they came out biting with vengeance. My husband saw me fighting ants and said “You just need to stay in the house the rest of the summer.”

I love being outdoors because there is too much work inside the house that is always staring at me, so he knew that was not going to work. I am trying my best not to pay another visit to Urgent Care this summer. It is going to be a close call.

My husband and I can be in the garden, fishing, or just walking, but any insect that is present will aim at me and succeed with the mission.

One day, I was following him as we were searching for blackberries for a pie. He walked in front so that whatever was in the bushes would nail him first. Something bit into my leg that day and I still do not know what it was. It took two years to finally get the little brown insect out of my leg.

Just the other day I was watering the flower garden, standing near a tree, and had to lean over. I put my hand on the tree to steady myself and, all of a sudden, I felt a burning and stinging sensation. Sure enough, under my hand was a jet-black worm covered with stickers. My husband captured the worm, one of which I had never seen before. He said in all of his 70 plus years he had never seen one like that before, either. He kept the worm until he was sure I was not going to have an allergic reaction.

The cicadas have surfaced in the woods out near our back porch and, several nights ago, Hardy opened the door and one came in making the loudest noise one could imagine. He allowed it to hang out in the kitchen, and of course it died.

I went down the next morning and asked why was it there on the kitchen floor. He said it made so much noise when it came in that he was afraid to throw it back outside. He knew that waking me would not be a good idea. He said knowing my luck with insects, this cicada might have changed its nature and bit him.

Several days ago, my shin started burning and itching. I reached down and scratched it much harder than I should have, and for a minute it stopped itching. I looked at the place on my leg and saw a dark spot and decided not to scratch it anymore because now it was hurting and itching at the same time.

As I get older, my body is growing more and more moles. I had done damage to a mole on my neck before so I decided to leave this spot alone. Again, the burning and itching started. I asked my husband to check it, and he said “You have disturbed a mole again.” But this time I knew something was bad wrong. It appeared as if the skin had been pulled up from the harsh scratching.

I told my husband to pull whatever it was, even if it were a mole. Hesitantly, he followed orders. He immediately said “Oh! It is not skin. This is a tick.” He made a hard jerking pinch and it came off the leg, leaving an opening where it had attempted to bury its mouth under my skin.

I do not know how long it had been there, trying to get to the fleshy part of my leg. Hardy rushed to the bathroom to flush it, not realizing that was not a good idea. Cutting the tick into pieces would have been a great idea, according to Monica. He rushed out with the tick in hand to get rid of it.

Monica has a clear-cut way to dispose of the ticks in her life, but I read about her tick episode too late. According to research, some ticks can live for three days in water. But they cannot swim. Hopefully it was flushed down the toilet for good. He appeared to resemble flat skin, which means he had not had time to get the blood necessary for his livelihood.

Please do not take the word of anyone who tells you that the tick cannot be felt. The itching and stinging were what called my attention to the very spot where this tick was trying to latch itself to.

I hope and pray that your summer is not filled with as many insect episodes as I have had. And summer is not more than halfway over.

Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright, founder and director of the African American Connection of the Performing Arts Inc. and a 2020 Heart of the Community Award recipient. She can be contacted at

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