Stories from my life and travels as an American expat in Germany. Awkwardness guaranteed!

A Bugs Life: Creepy-Crawlies in Germany

A Bugs Life: Creepy-Crawlies in Germany

Bugs! They’re (mostly) disgusting! They’re also everywhere; especially here in Germany. This post contains a (blurry) photo of a spider, so if you don’t want to see that…turn away now!

 

…OK, just the brave folks left? Great!

Of all the stereotypes I’d heard about Germany before moving here, “there’s a lot of bugs” definitely wasn’t one of them. It’s true, though; Germany is full of them. Well, at least in my experience. The data tells a different story. According to Science magazine, Germany has (like the rest of the world) been seeing a decline in insect populations. Compared to where I used to live, though, Germany might as well be a nature reserve for bugs.

bugs Germany giant house spider
Be thankful I used the my phone camera; you don’t want to see the details on this bad boy…

Last year was much worse; it was a rainy, cold Summer and that meant mosquitoes. No matter how much repellent I put on, I had no less than 5 fresh bites at a time. In fact, thanks to the mild winter, we still had them trying to get into our apartment up until December. Last Summer was also my first encounter with a giant house spider; thankfully, it was in the basement and not our actual apartment.

Unfortunately, the basement isn’t the only place huge spiders lurk in Germany. Like the demons they are, many of them hide away during the day, only to come out at night. Cross any bridge in Germany after the sun sets, and you will notice the railings are positively crawling.

This Summer has been hot and dry; I’ve had maybe two mosquito bites this entire summer. I also haven’t seen any slugs. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the spiders; if anything, there are more of them than ever. Currently, there are two giant house spiders where we keep our bikes. Two were also living in my bird feeder until my husband noticed and dumped them in some bushes far away from our apartment.

bugs Germany wasps bakery
I visited 3 bakeries to get this photo; all three had tons of wasps, but this was the only place where the counter lady didn’t immediately begin talking to me…

Spiders are scary, but wasps are (arguably) the biggest problem. Eating outside in the Summer is nice, but you have to constantly deal with them crawling all over your food and trying to get into your drink. If you visit a bakery that keeps its doors open for air (which is all of them, since they don’t have air conditioning), you’re likely to see a wasp infestation. They’re everywhere, crawling all over the baked goods; sometimes, several on a single cake. Yet, the workers and patrons alike seem to not care at all. It’s like being in a scene from a horror movie, where I’m the only character who notices something is wrong.

There weren’t nearly this many bugs back in America; at least, where I lived. I only had to wear mosquito repellent while camping, I rarely saw a spider larger than a nickel, and the only time I thought about wasps was when a neighbor had to call pest control to take care of a nest on their pole barn.

…or if they decided to knock it down themselves with a potato gun.

As much as I hate most bugs, I still understand their importance to the ecosystem. That doesn’t stop me from wishing businesses would at least try to get rid of the wasps, though. In the US, many companies rush to get rid of a nest as soon as they find one, for fear of losing business (at best) or being sued (at worst). Perhaps businesses in Germany need to feel the sting in their pocket books before they will do anything. With workers and customers so (seemingly) complacent, they have no incentive.

fuzzy bee buttI will say, though, that as awful as it is to see more of the bugs I don’t like…it is nice to see more of those that I do. I see far more bumblebees, butterflies and dragonflies here than I ever did in Michigan; even when I lived in a more rural area.

 

So it’s not all bad.

 

Just, you know…mostly.


Reader Comments

  1. *shudder*. My parents and I lived on a house on a pond when we lived in West Bloomfield, and we got a ton of bugs … one time there was a giant tarantula in the TOILET. (dead, but still …)

    1. WHAT. OMG. D: That’s horrifying! I wonder how the tarantula got there, though? They’re definitely not native. I saw a few large spiders when I lived a street away from Lake Huron’s shores, but they were still no bigger than a quarter. The giant house spiders here are about twice as big. I honestly didn’t know they could get so big in a temperate climate…

  2. SPIDERS ARE THE WORST!! When I see memes of burning houses and the captions are “how to properly get rid of a spider” I am nodding in agreement and wondering where best to start the flame so the house will burn faster and brighter extinguishing the spider and all of its relatives past and future.

    I do worry about bug problems travelling in Thailand and I know I need to get over it quick because they will be there no matter what. I also live in an area in Canada where the bugs are minimal so seeing that picture of the house spider…it might as well have been a dog with 8 legs.

    1. My husband said, “…the spider looks tiny in that picture” so I’ll have to read him your comment now. 😉

      And yes, they are the worst. If I were the praying sort, I’d pray for you and your visit to Thailand. I’m pretty sure all the bugs there are like dogs with eight legs. D:

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