War on the home front!
I am at war with my house. No actually, I am at war for possession of my house! Over the past few months, the bugs have decided they own the place. They have invaded my home like the Israelites marching across the Promised Land and are attempting to take my house by force and numbers. I’m fighting gnats, flies, palmetto bugs (BIG fancy name for a BIG fancy cockroach), fruit flies, Indian meal moths & ants. There have been days when I’ve fought 3 or 4 species simultaneously. I’m beginning to empathize with Henry in Henry’s Awful Mistake by Robert M. Quakenbush. I understand fully what drove Henry to attack his walls with a hammer in search of that pesky ant. (If you haven’t read this fabulous kids book, get it from your library. It’s a classic!)
It’s becoming apparent that our house isn’t sealed very well. Those last two words were unnecessary. It’s also becoming apparent that short of tearing down every tree in our backyard, applying duct tape to the entire exterior surface and sealing everything inside the house in Ziploc bags and Tupperware, I will not be able to win this war. Take a look at the battle fronts.
Ants – these pesky little creatures are on my kitchen counters, climbing the sink, tracking across the window over the sink and now in my spice cupboard. In my spice cupboard, everything is in Tupperware or sealed in the original spice container if it’s a tight seal. I don’t know what they could possibly find to live on in there. My kitchen counters are wiped down daily, literally moving the coffee pot, dish drainer, knife rack, etc. So what’s a mom to do when she wants to occupy her home sans ants? Trip off to Lowe’s hardware to buy traps, of course. I bought Raid traps and Raid spray. Those worked….for a day! The ants seem to think of the traps as their own little hotel and sleep quite cozily in them. “Thanks for providing a place where you can’t reach us and squash us, ma’am.” Spraying Raid on the counters lasts for about a day, then they seem to develop immunity and come back out from where ever they were hiding. I’m quite sure I don’t want to know. On the advice of several friends and my mother (mother knows best, right?), I tripped off to Lowe’s again. There I purchased Terro. Terro is a gel you drop onto bitty pieces of cardboard and put in the path of the ants. Now mind you, because these ants already turned the traps into a private hotel, I knew I wasn’t dealing with average intelligence ants, but I had no idea just how smart my ants actually are! I put the Terro out in 3 different spots. The ants, in their infinite wisdom, have developed the annoying ability to sense my bait and are now marching up and down my kitchen wall, entirely avoiding the Terro dripped cardboard in their previous path. Score Me – 0, Ants – 3
Indian Meal Moths – we’ve been fighting these little buggers since we moved in more than a year ago. The ex-terminator (Ex-because he wasn’t controlling any insect population and no longer is employed for our house) said the only way to get rid of them was to not have any open food in the house! Hello?! Has he been in a house with 3 kids before? Three times now we have emptied the entire pantry, discarded anything that looked humanly edible and bought replacement food. Twice the disgusting buggers came back and invaded our pancake mix, flour, powdered milk, sugar, etc. I thought I had everything I in Tupperware that I could possibly fit in Tupperware. Turns out I was wrong. Now everything in my pantry is in Tupperware. When I say everything, I mean literally EVERY cookie, chip, cereal, flour, sugar, marshmallow, seed, nut, snack, bake mix, pancake mix, etc. is in Tupperware. When it comes home from the store, I open the bag/box and into the container it goes. If my kids want a snack, they have to dig through containers trying to figure out which one contains the cookie they are desiring. The only thing not in Tupperware is sealed cans. I also discovered that straight ammonia helps deter the little buggers for a few months. (Although it left me hacking up a lung and falling faintly from the ladder after applying it in such a small space.) Couple the ammonia with finding the gross and disgusting groove on my pantry shelving where they were laying eggs, and I just might have beaten the little buggers. Score Me – 1, Indian Meal Moths – 3. But in the end, my score trumps theirs like weapons of mass destruction vs. a baseball bat.
Gnats – These little things are the Cotton Eyed Joe of bugs. “Where did you come from? Where did you go?…” (You can thank me later for getting that song stuck in your head.) One day they just appeared. And by appeared I mean, turned an entire wall black with their presence. Apparently they prefer strength in numbers and thus hide their existence until they have sufficiently multiplied to feel they can claim possession of the place. Day 1, no gnats. Day 2, 10,000 and counting. For this particular pest, another trip to Lowe’s hardware was required. There I found a spray can of “kitchen and bath pest control” which was alleged to killed on contact and was safe for use indoors near food, although it did call for leaving the area. After seeing the black, writhing wall of the evil empire I was ready to flee the country. I emptied that entire can in about 5 minutes flat on the little buggers. Sprayed the wall, sprayed around the doors and windows, sprayed the kitchen and bathroom until the spray was running down the walls and even sprayed in the pantry, for good measure. These gnats must have a flight school wherever they multiply. As they flew away when the spray hit them, I heard strains of “Singing in the rain” from their tiny little violins. So much for “kills on contact”. Score Me – O, Gnats – 1 And I think Lowe’s should score some points too for separating me from more money.
Palmetto Bugs – These disgusting, red, armored roaches are impervious to shoes, able to withstand 200 pounds of pressure and faster than a greased pig in a mud wrasslin’ contest. DH has attempted to stomp on one with everything he can bring. Let’s just say, “Here comes the Boom” doesn’t scare them. They just get back up and crawl away after being stomped on. I’ve attempted to bring the hammer on them myself to no avail. Unfortunately these pests seem to be attracted to me. Or maybe it’s just my night wandering, can’t fall asleep before midnight habit. At any rate, they always seem to come out of hiding for me. One night I climbed out of bed at 11:30 grasping for the Tylenol bottle only to watch the entire bottle move away from me in a red flurry of wings and legs. Amazingly my scream of terror didn’t wake the neighbors. I managed to swallow my terror, reach for tissue paper and proceeded to squash the little sucker into the corner of the medicine basket. He was still fighting for his life as I flushed him down a watery hell. I pray he is still alive fighting desperately to make landfall only to discover he’s in an endless abyss of watery turd hell with no land in sight. On another occasion I was unable to sleep and decided a bath would help relax me. I reached for the shower door to get my bath gel out when the shower door handle wiggled in red-limbed fury. I jumped and screamed once again, raising my heart rate and ensuring once again I would not be getting any sleep for the next few hours. I lay in bed that night imagining the big buggers climbing the walls to get into my bed. Me – 1 (for flushing one alive), Palmetto Bugs – 3 For continuing to evade capture.
Flies – Like gnats these seem to just appear and disappear on a whim. Fortunately, those old disgusting fly strips your grandpa used to have in his garage work to some degree. My wish for them is that they remain alive and stuck for a few hours, trying desperately to free their wings or legs from the sticky glue of demise only to realize they are trapping themselves further and eventually watch themselves as they drift off into a slow and agonizing death knowing there is nothing else they can do. Usually the fly strips catch about 90% of the flies and I can swat the rest with my beat-up, fly-gut covered fly-swatter. Me – 2, Flies – 0
Fruit Flies – This one is easy to prevent. Just don’t buy fruit. Ha! Oh wait. That would mean they win AND we don’t eat healthy. So, rather than bananas, I buy fruit that can be kept in the fridge. I’m allergic to raw bananas anyway. So now we have grapes, oranges, apples and canned pineapple. On occasion I buy a small bunch of bananas that they rest of the family can consume immediately before the fruit flies realize there is fresh food in the house for them. Me – 0. Fruit Flies – 0 No one wins in this situation. I can’t defeat them but I can prevent them.
Until the day I move out, I will continue to fight this war and show these bugs who’s the boss. They might win the battles, but I am confident that with enough fogger, spray, traps, strips, gels, swatters and Tupperware I can take back the house. Give me my spray can, I’m headed back to the war.