What is a creepy crawly?
Well, it isn't easy to give a straight definition so I'll tell you a couple of stories to try to explain. A few years ago I was on holiday in Holland. I was on a bicycle trip and at the very first sign of a hill, I got off my bike for a rest. I sat down by the side of the road on the grass. A few seconds later, I was covered in ants. They were swarming all over me so I quickly got up and brushed them off. I had obviously sat near an anthill and they were protecting their territory from an invader. It was a strange experience but I soon forgot about it, got back on my bike and tackled the hill.
A couple of years later, I was living in Jordan. I had just moved into a modern flat and was unpacking plates and saucepans, when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I looked over at the kitchen drawer, where I had put the knives and forks, and there was a cockroach crawling out of it. I screamed. Then, my heart pounding, and probably still screaming, I grabbed a handy can of insecticide and sprayed half of it on the very hardy cockroach. He ran at me but I jumped out of the way and he scuttled out of the kitchen and under the nearby toilet door. It took me three days before I found the courage to open the toilet door (luckily there was another bathroom in the house!) to see if he was still alive. He wasn't.
Why did I react so violently to one lone insect when a closer encounter with hundreds of ants hardly affected me? The answer is easy: because cockroaches are creepy crawlies and ants aren't.
Creepy crawlies are those little bugs which provoke feelings such as apprehension, anxiety or aversion - they make your skin crawl. Flies aren't creepy crawlies but spiders are. Ladybirds are rather sweet but centipedes are scary. Guess which is a creepy crawly?
Did you know that some people can feel such a fear of bugs that it can even become a phobia? I recognise that my reaction was exaggerated. I knew the cockroach wasn't going to harm me, even though he did seem to be running straight for me even as I sprayed, but I couldn't help myself. Why did I react the way I did to a relatively innocuous creature?
Psychologists have offered many explanations. Some say it was an instinctive reaction to a perceived threat, the idea being that these insects were harmful to us many generations back and that this fear is harboured in our subconscious. Others explain it by saying that we associate them with dirt and disease. Or that these are life forms that are so alien to us, that we find them repulsive for their dissimilarity. A more cultural-specific reason proffered is that in Western philosophy the individual is held to be the most important creature of all God's creatures and other living creatures are subordinate to him. Insects, instead, don't follow our rules - they just do what they want and invade our space. It is interesting to note that in China, where man is viewed as only one element of the world and humans and nature are one and the same, aversion to insects is not as common.
Whatever the cause, entomologists despair at this squeamish attitude towards their object of study. They would like us to appreciate insects for the benefits they bring, which are many. Pest control and waste decomposition to name a couple. Unfortunately, although insects and bugs have been a very successful animal species up to now, many of them, like many other species nowadays, are under threat of extinction. Entomologists warn that this could upset entire ecosystems and lead to all kinds of disastrous consequences.
So my plea to you is: the next time you feel the urge to stamp on, splatter or spray a creepy crawly, give a thought to the planet and desist !
5 words/phrases from the text:
1. handy: conveniently available
2. courage: bravery
3. innocuous: not harmful
4. repulsive: being horrible to look at
5. threat: an intention to inflict injury
Vocabulary gap fill. Now use the 5 words/phrases to fill the gaps in the sentences below:
- He showed great ................ when he confronted the bank robbers
- The monster had a ................ face that frightened the children
- Although the ogre looked scary, he was really quite ...................
- He's a .............. babysitter because he only lives around the corner
- The terrorist group are a ................. to local security
Comprehension. Answer the 5 questions using information from the article.
- Was the reader afraid of the ants?
- Was the reader afraid of the cockcroach?
- In what way does Western philosophy explain the way we feel about creepy crawlies?
- Are Chinese people afraid of creepy crawlies?
- What are entomologists afraid of?
The present perfect tense has a number of uses.
1 We use it to talk about experience.
I've worked in 6 different countries.
Have you ever been to Australia?
She's won many awards for her books.
When these things happened is not important - the focus is on the action/state, not when it happened.
NB If we say when we had the experience, we must use the past simple.
I've visited Russia several times.
BUT I visited Russia for the first time in 1992.
We can never use the present perfect with a time in the past.
I have been to Spain in 2002.
2 We also use the present perfect to talk about things that are unfinished - unfinished states and unfinished time periods.
I've known him since I was 11. (unfinished state)
I met him when I was 11. I still know him now. The present perfect is acting as a bridge between the past and the present.
I've had this watch for almost thirty years.
We've lived here since I was a boy.
She's been to the cinema three times this week. (unfinished time period)
This week isn't finished yet - she may go to the cinema again.
We've already had two holidays this year.
I've eaten too much today.
3 A third use of the present perfect is to show the present result of a past action
I've lost my keys. He lost his keys some time in the past but the result - he can't get into his house - is in the present.
John's broken his leg and he can't go on holiday.
A storm has blown down the telephone lines. We're stuck here!
Complete the sentences using one of the verbs in an appropriate from. There are 2 extra verbs.
1 How many emails  today?
2  a bear in real life?
Quiz Question 9
Scottish word for ‘lake’.
Creepy crawlies - key
- No, she was not.
- Yes, she was.
- In Western philosophy men are superior, animals are inferior and insects do not follow our rules so they are alien.
- No, Chinese people are not normally afraid of creepy crawlies.
- They are afraid that if we kill too many insects we will upset ecosystems.
- have you sent, has he/she sent
- Have you/Has he/she ever seen
- has stolen
- have you lived/has he/she sent
- ‘ve/have eaten