Our most recent blog is a fun look at the origin of insect and pest-related proverbs and sayings.
This morning I overheard a colleague of my husband’s use a rather sweet (if somewhat old-fashioned) expression to describe a new restaurant they tried over the weekend. He said, “it was the bee’s knees” (very good).
This got me thinking… How many other proverbs or sayings are there to describe things that include insects or pests? Don’t get me wrong – bees are certainly NOT pests and we need to encourage them into our gardens. Wasps on the other hand – not so much! (We talk about how to spot the difference between bees and wasps in this post.)
Maybe that’s why the saying is “the bee’s knees” (not the wasp’s knees) and why “anger is as a stone cast into a wasp’s nest!” (meaning that it usually backfires and hurts you more).
This got me thinking about the connotations of comparing things to pests – which are generally unwelcome or unpleasant. To discover whether pest-related proverbs and sayings are generally negative, and insect-related ones are more positive, I visited my good friend, Google.
Here are a few pesty proverbs and sayings that I found while trawling the web. Some of them may be familiar (things your mum used to say to you as a child, perhaps?) or even turns of phrase you have used yourself, but it’s interesting to note that with only a few exceptions, pesty sayings mostly have negative connotations.
These seem fairly neutral to me, but that probably depends on how you feel about ants.
- They’ve got ants in their pants is commonly used to describe someone who is very restless or impatient, and can’t keep still. My mom – and my junior school teacher – used this one a lot!
- An ant across the ocean is seen, but not the elephant nearby
This proverb is of Malaysian origin and is used to describe a person that sees flaws in other people, but doesn’t see the obvious faults in themselves.
Does anyone dislike butterflies?
- A social butterfly is a person interested principally in frivolous pleasure, but also someone who flits from person to person at a party or gathering.
- To have butterflies in one’s stomach means to have a nervous feeling in one’s stomach (like the flapping of small wings in your stomach).
Bed bugs, beetles and worms
These are still fairly neutral, in my opinion.
- Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite is just a long-winded way of saying get a good night’s sleep. I suppose because if you were itching from bed bug bites you definitely would NOT be getting a good night’s rest.
- Beetle away means to move away quickly.
- Beetle brain is quite an obvious one – meaning to not be particularly smart or clever.
- A bug is commonly used in the computer world, meaning a fault or error in a machine or program.
- Put a bug in (someone’s) ear: To impart useful information to (another) in a subtle, discreet way.
- Bookworm is used quite often (by me, to describe my daughter) and means a person who is very fond of reading.
The early bird catches the early worm. Fairly self-explanatory, I think 🙂
Flies are filthy (and something we write about a lot on deBugged). I don’t think there are any favourable sayings that include flies. Here are just a few that I could find:
- Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet. This one is of Chinese origin and means don’t aggravate a small problem into a bigger problem.
- A fly in the ointment. A detrimental circumstance or detail; a drawback.
- You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Literally and figuratively true.
- They died like flies – in vast quantities.
- A shut mouth catches no flies. It’s better to keep one’s mouth shut and not say anything than to engage in idle chatter and potentially say something inappropriate.
- There are no flies on them: they aren’t a fool, can’t be tricked.
Fleas, lice, and nits:
- Fleabag to describe a seedy, rundown hotel or lodging.
- Flea-bitten: to describe something seedy and dilapidated
Fleapit: A cheap, squalid theatre
- If you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas. Spending time with undesirable people will cause one to take on their undesirable traits
- To be sent away with “a flea in one’s ear” means to be severely rebuked, or sent away with anger and disapproval.
Louse: a mean or despicable person.
Lousy with money: Abundantly supplied with money
Nitpicking: giving too much attention to unimportant details.
A nitwit: a stupid, foolish person.
Home pest control from Rentokil
It would appear from my informal survey that it’s never going to be complementary when someone calls you – or compares you to – a pest like a fly, a flea, or a nit. Probably because these pests make life unpleasant and can even be a health risk. That’s why you need the experts in pest control to ensure that your home and business are pest free.
When to call pest control
If your DIY solutions don’t work and you are struggling with repeated pest infestations, I recommend seeking help from a professional pest control company such as Rentokil. The experts in pest control can help you get rid of existing pest infestations – and prevent new ones – that can pose a threat to your wellbeing and the health and wellbeing of your family.
If you have any more sayings about insects or pests that we have left out, let us know!