Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Battle of the Bugs
First I must apologize for my slackness in posting the past few days. I still have a bit of lingering infection from my recent dental surgery (yes, still, even after two rounds of antibiotics), and two-and-a-half weeks of constant pain in my jaw (pain when I talk, pain when I eat, PAIN when my son affectionally slams his head into my face as toddlers are so wont to do) has really been dragging me down. And no, I haven't been back to the dentist yet, because I keep hoping if I ignore the problem hard enough it will just go away. And yes, I am being irrational and sort of a wuss, but read my recent wisdom-tooth-removal-related posts and see if YOU feel like going to the dentist. See? And you didn't even live it. You just read it. So there :P
Now, on to my post.
THE BUGS ARE COMING.
A few days ago, I saw one. A big fat slick black waterbug, lying legs-up on my carpeted hallway floor, twisted, twitching. Death spasming.
I hopped over it with a shudder of my own, and grabbed a wastefully thick wad of papertowels from the kitchen. I scooped it up gently in the towels, and bundled them tightly around it, and then made myself smash the little bundle as hard as I could. Quicker that way, I thought. Put the poor damn thing out of its misery.
MAKE SURE IT'S DEAD.
You see, I have a problem with bugs. Bugs in my house.
Oh, they're all right outside, keeping to themselves, living their little buggy lives. Part of the ecosystem. Circle of life, and that. Pollinating and nourishing my garden. Tiny, intricate creatures, so delicately made, so alien to my comparatively massive mammalian self. Outside, sometimes, I think they're facinating. Sometimes even beautiful. In fact, there is a tattoo of a dragonfly on my back. Dragonflies seem so lithe and graceful, and have such lovely iridescent glassy wings; yet, there is a fierceness in their movements that is startling. Quite engaging creatures, certain bugs.
When I find them in my house, I want to smash them.
(I usually make my husband smash them for me).
There is something about these little creatures invading my domain that seems to activate a primal warding instinct. That line of little ants that seems so quaint and prim to me upon the sidewalk looks like an invading army of ugly, filthy marauding thieves crossing the threshhold of my patio door. The spider that seemed so friendly and useful spinning her delicate web above my basil plant seems full of malevolent intelligence on the rim of my bathroom sink.
Last summer I discovered much to my horror that the thin, shoddily constructed walls and poorly sealed window frames of my apartment building here in the wooded suburbs admitted many more unwelcome arthropod guests than I'd been accustomed to living closer to the city. In the space of one season, we suffered no less than three ant invasions, from three different species of ant-- black ants in the bathrooms (coming through my mildewed water-damaged wall), pharoah ants in the baby's room (coming through a poorly spackled fist-sized hole in the wall adjacent to the windows, and then around the unsealed window frame itself), crazy ants in the living room (sneaking under my patio door). Every time it rained, we played host to at least three quarter-sized refugee spiders. Waterbugs and spindly crickets abounded in the utility closet. And in one week, I caught no less than three GIANT FLYING COCKROACHES. I didn't even know Missouri had flying cockroaches. They sure showed me.
After I filed several complaints, the apartment office finally sent over a bumbling exterminator who looked amazingly like a stereotypical TV caricature of an exterminator-- right down to the poor posture, stained clothes, creepy stare, and amazingly bad teeth-- who tended to spill things in places he shouldn't, and once asked if he could pour some sort of toxic pesticide from one container to another in my kitchen sink. After two visits, he and his noxious chemicals scared me more than the bugs did, so I stopped asking the apartment office for help (which I strongly suspect may have been their plan all along).
My second line of response to this mass invasion was to invest heavily in boric acid traps, seal every crack in the poorly made, water-damaged walls I could reach with spackle, insulating foam, and caulk, and put all the food in my pantry in air-tight plastic or glass containers.
I had already been keeping my house quite clean (not always neat, mind you, but clean). I consider superior cleanliness necessary when you live with someone who spends a good deal of his time on the floor looking for odd things that aren't food to put in his mouth.
The Battle of the Bugs raged on into the fall. I lost most of my patio herb garden to the crazy ant invasion, but I did manage to keep my kitchen and pantry bug-free. (Except for that unfortunate flour weevil incident, but I blame that entirely on my Schnucks grocery. After all, who on earth expects a swarm of mature flour weevils to eat their way out of a sealed bag of chickpeas purchased at the store only two weeks prior? Well, I do. Now.)
Then winter came, with its blissful killing frosts. And away went the bugs.
But the winter was unseasonably mild.
And spring has once again sprung.
As they say in the movies:
This time, I'm ready.
Caulk gun? Check. Non-carcinogenic bug killers? Check. Enough air-tight plastic in my pantry to make a entire Tupperware party swoon? Check.
I don't care if I have to lay down a perimeter of diatomaceous earth and boric acid around this whole apartment building, my pretties. I don't care if I have to pot three different species of insect-repellant shrub. I don't care if I have to hire a team of trained bug-eating bats.
You're not taking my house, bug army. Go build yourselves a buggy civilization outside.