There are _no_ insects in California

no_mosquito            There are a lot of people in California who were born and raised here. That is weird to me (oftentimes even their parents were born and raised here!*). I was raised in D.C…I grew up in DC, and (at least amongst the professional classes) there were very not that many people who were both raised in DC and who planned to stick around for the long term**.

If you’re Californian, I think it’s difficult to fathom how rarely people on the East Coast think of you. I feel like Californians understand that CA is not the most important place in the world, because that would be a delusion that is pretty difficult to maintain. But they at least think that CA is, like, this Mecca that all Americans direct their thoughts toward on at least a weekly (if not daily) basis.

That could not be further from the truth. If you’re on the East Coast, it is possible to believe that you’re in the most important place in the world. Thus, you just never think about other places. When I was a kid, I would once in a while reflect on the fact that I was born in California and I’d think, “Wow…isn’t it weird that there’re just, like, forty million people hanging out over on the other side of the country and nothing they do impinges on my life at all?”

That having been said. California is a paradise.

And that’s for one little-sung reason. There are no bugs here.

Seriously, it freaks me out. Not only are there very few mosquitoes, there also aren’t that many: cockroaches, flies, bedbugs, ants, ticks, cicadas, dragonflies, bees, wasps, gnats, beetles, slugs, snails, worms***, chiggers, spiders…you name it. I mean, they aren’t totally absent (except for lightning bugs, which’re the only bugs that I miss). But they do not exist in anything even approaching the numbers that they do in DC or, really, anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, or South (I can’t speak to bug prevalence in New England).

There are so few bugs in CA that oftentimes windows don’t even have screens!

There are so few bugs in CA that my apartment can have a fruit tree which drops ripe apricots that then get squashed into the pavement, without attracting any ants or cockroaches!

There are so few bugs in CA that you can live next door to an urban farm where goats and chickens are dropping shit everywhere, and you don’t see a single fly!

A brief internet search suggests that the reason for this is that California (at least the part of CA that isn’t directly adjacent to the ocean) is so arid. You don’t quite realize it because the state is so well-irrigated, but there like nine months here where it almost never rains. That doesn’t quite explain SF, though, where there are also no insects, despite it being a pretty damp place.

*Their grandparents were Okies, of course =)

**Although, as I say this, I realize that a fair number of people in my high school graduating class still live in the DC area. Err, and, I guess, so do I.

***One exception does come to mind. Stanford’s campus used to have a bizarre caterpillar season: three weeks when every tree on campus would be dripping with caterpillars. I assume this was due to scientists playing God and committing some kind of crime against man and nature.

Comments (



  1. Irina Talis

    “I feel like Californians understand that CA is not the most important place in the world, because that would be a delusion that is pretty difficult to maintain.” — As someone who’s lived in Silicon Valley for almost all of my life, I disagree with this statement. I’m totally delusional about California being the center of the universe. Basically I feel the way you do about the East Coast, but reversed.
    Unrelated, I would LOVE to hear a real explanation of those freaky caterpillars. I always thought it felt pre-apocalyptic when the bushes were covered in them. Seemed like a bad omen or something.
    Also unrelated, I’m pretty sure there were recent bed bug outbreaks in SF.

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      Yeah, outbreaks. But not the persistent bed bug horror that is New York.

%d bloggers like this: