Ask A Fifth Year: River bugs stay away from my door

Evan Williams

(Drawing by Annie Raccuglia)

Dear Evan,

I’m glad that the winter weather is gone, but what’s up with swarm of bugs around campus? Are they a plague? Should I put lamb’s blood above my door?



Hello Ozymandias, king of kings. Yes, we have killed winter! We pierced his heart with our hatred and willed him out of existence with the power of our griping. But as most good things in life, spring comes with strings attached. Allergies are one thing, but I’d prefer itchy eyes and sneezing any day over the swarm of flea-like bugs that poison the campus. 

Colloquially — or at least around Lawrence — they are known as “river bugs.” I have a hard time believing that is their actual name, because for bugs of the river, they sure do like to spend a lot of time away from it. 

Even so, it would be understandable if one or two of them liked to fly around campus, but they prefer to fly in swarms of dozens, maybe even hundreds in the middle of the sidewalks. 

To be fair, they are largely concentrated around areas nearer to the river, like the campus center, Wriston and Hiett, however they are also very present in areas like Plantz and in front of Main Hall. 

I’m not a biologist or anything, so I can’t tell you why they like to spend so much time away from the majestic and pristine Fox — actually, on second thought, I guess I can’t blame them. I also can’t tell you if it would be bad for the ecosystem if we sent all the freshmen down to the riverside with Raid, and gassed out the little suckers. 

Since open war doesn’t seem like a viable option, defense is our only option in dealing with this matter. Below is a short list of steps to protect yourself from the river bugs. 

1. Be aware of your surroundings. In our techno-savvy world, we’ve become well trained in walking with our eyes glued to our phones. Most of us can avoid running into people or getting run over. However, to avoid river bug mobs, one has to be vigilant and cannot rely on their peripheral vision. In other words: Look alive, soldier!

2. Move quickly. It’s nice outside, so naturally you’ll want to lollygag around campus. However, if there are river bugs around move quickly past them. They are not very fast and, while they are in our turf, they don’t seem too interested in us — only their orgy of annoyance.

3. Keep your mouth closed. In mid-conversation or while running, you can easily find yourself in the midst of a swarm of river bugs. If your mouth is open, you have just invited one or two of them to fly on in and be swallowed. 

This is a horrible feeling, and if it happens you feel like something is stuck in your throat for a while. 

4. Don’t worry about being too pretty or masculine to flail your arms around in public. Unlike your mouth, you don’t have a natural barrier on your face to protect your eyes and everything else from these insects. Therefore, you can’t be too proud to look like an idiot and just wave your arms in front of your face. 

I find that the most effective method is one arm in front of your face, waving up and down, not unlike a windshield wiper.

Ozymandias, I hope this helps. As for your trunk-less legs and shattered visage, I got nothing.