September 27, 2007
Get ready to bug out
With few exceptions, I sincerely hate bugs ... a lot. I hate the way they look. I can't stand it when they bite. And most of all, I feel violated each time I catch one crawling up my leg. Yeeech!
While my hatred of bugs may seem a tad extreme (but definitely warranted), it may be that we're intruding on their lives rather than the other way around. That's the way Joshua Abarbanel and Jeff Swimmer see it, and their new book, "A Field Guide to Household Bugs: It's a Jungle in Here" (Plume, $12), explains that our well-protected homes may be more of a feeding ground for bugs than we think.
Turning "the idea of home as a sanctuary on its head," Abarbanel and Swimmer say, their book -- which has the potential to bring out the Jewish neurosis in anyone -- offers a comedic yet factual look at the bugs currently living around, on or even in you.
They enter your home by hitching a ride on family pets or simply taking advantage of open doors, pet doors, open windows, tears in window screens, vents, pipes and cracks. After reading the field guide, I inspected my shared apartment and bathed ... and then bathed again.
There's much more to the book than the mere gross-out feature. Abarbanel and Swimmer say their book works because "the characters are so compelling and bizarre; their behaviors are so weird and unusual."
In the chapter Demodex Folliculorum, Abarbanel and Swimmer delve into the bugs more commonly known as eyelash mites. The guide explains that at any given time, you could have 20 to 30 of these critters wrapped around the base of your well-groomed lashes.
The two agree that the most Jewish-sounding name for a bug would probably be the silverfish (Lepisma saccharina), and that the earwigs (Forficula auricularia) get mad Jewish props for their love of books.
As we celebrate Sukkot, Abarbanel and Swimmer have some good news for you. The two say your sukkah is likely less infested with bugs than your home, which should make the mitzvah of sleeping in our biblical huts a little easier to carry out.
Joshua Abarbanel and Jeff Swimmer will sign "A Field Guide to Household Bugs" on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2 p.m. at Dutton's Brentwood Books, 11975 San Vicente Blvd. Los Angeles.
For more information, visit http://www.duttonsbrentwood.com.