Just as we have adopted the use of pests into our every day language, especially in similes like ‘you dirty rat’, so have certain pests been adopted to represent all manner of things from the names of pop bands to airplanes! Here are a few that I know of but I bet there are lot more out there.
The Mosquito – it seems this is not just an annoying insect waiting to bite you whilst you are on your summer hols. (Did you know that amongst mosquitoes, it is only the females that bite? I mentioned this to my husband, who said that this just proves how vicious women are.) Anyway, the Mosquito is also the name of a WWII plane that is incredibly famous and was hugely successful during the war.
The Tiger Moth – apparently this is not just the name for an exotic sounding moth, but another plane, a 1930s biplane in fact, used by the Royal Air Force. For those of you with a nostalgic predisposition, you can even have a tiger moth flight experience, if you are interested.
The Cockroaches – evidently this is not just those horrendous pest cockroaches that make my skin crawl, but also an Australian pop band which achieved reasonable success back in the day. I never heard of them but I have since listened to their song “She’s the one” – its actually not that bad.
The Flea – I am not referring to those fleas that like to hop around your pets, but also a rather well known theatre in New York city founded in 1996. I have not yet figured out why anyone would choose the name Flea for a theatre (was it once a flea pit?), but I guess sometimes there isn’t always a simple explanation.
The Beetle – that is the Volkswagen Beetle car. I have often wondered about the inspiration for the name. Apparently, the design for the bodywork of the car was inspired by the beetle insect, which was believed to have a perfectly streamlined body.
The Rat Pack – so a group* of rats is actually called a “pack” or sometimes, and my favourite, “mischief” but this more famous rat pack refers to a group of actors. Notably Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr, though it actually included other well known actors such as Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart too. The origins for the name of the group is not totally certain but may have been picked up when Bacall once referred to the rest of the men as a rat pack.
The Mousetrap – ok, so this is a bit more tenuous, as this is not quite a pest, but I had to get the longest running stage play in history into this list. This is the most famous Mousetrap and was written by Agatha Christie. I am sure there is a mouse trap somewhere out there that may have caught thousands of mice in its time rather than had visitors come and view its performance. I could tell you what happens, but that would spoil the surprise now wouldn’t it….
So, do you know any more pest analogies or use of common pest names in day to day language? I bet I am missing off some really obvious ones.
* Btw, did you know that a group of owls is known as a “parliament”? Check out a quiz for more collective nouns for animals here. Good luck. How many did you know of already? I knew quite a lot….well, about half of them.
Barcelona’s player Lionel Messi is also known as “The Flea” because of his short height, and as the pest, he also scares his rivals!
I can think of a few and was going to write them. Then I remembered……..Not in a public forum. You’re right though and the same applies to many common names or ‘sayings’. Always interesting where they originate
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I hate spiders but not the Ferrari kind which is most welcome to hang out in my (damp and leaking) garage!
I suddenly remembered from my ballroom dancing days that the “cucaracha” or cockroach is a basic step in the Rumba. You will undoubtedly have seen it performed on Strictly Come Dancing.
La Cucaracha, La Cucaracha… is it called that because cockroaches are fast? There are some speedy spiders in my garage – can they outrun a cockroach?
No, it is called that because it involves taking a firm step out to side (with your right foot for example) whilst putting in some hip action…this is supposed to mimick how one might step on to a cockroach to, dare i say, kill it.