Florida cockroaches make their northern cousins look like ants. In fact, their droppings are larger than ants. Officially named palmettos, they grow to several inches in length. They also fly. When my family moved to Florida many years ago, I encountered my first flying monster while my husband and I were playing bridge with our new neighbors. When someone opened the terrace door, a mini-airplane flew in right towards us. My husband and I dove for cover, positive we were in a scene that could be in an Alfred Hitchcock thriller. “What’s that?” I asked my new neighbors.
“A palmetto bug . . . you’ll get used to them when you’re living here awhile.”
“Not in this life time,” I guaranteed her.
Ten years later, I was in front of my classroom opening a wall map – the kind that pull down like a window shade – and a palmetto fell out. I stepped on it without missing a beat of my lesson. That’s when I realized I was a full-fledged Floridian just as my neighbor predicted.