THE EXTERMINATOR AND ME – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Thursday
THE PUTRESCENT EXTERMINATOR

I had a disturbing and rather depressing (brief) conversation with the exterminator a couple of days ago. He happily reported that we had killed (poisoned … yes … we poisoned them because we tried all the nice ways of getting them to move on and they came right back) as well as the big carpenter ants. It doesn’t mean we won’t get more mice or more ants because we live in the woods. It’s a package deal. You get to live in Hobbiton, but you also get the critters who live in the woods.

I mumbled about living in a more civilized location and he pointed out that I’d just be exchanging ants for cockroaches and mice for rats, which didn’t sound like all that great either.

MY kind of mouse

I remember when we lived on Beacon Hill — yes, snobby little Beacon Hill — and we had the worst, biggest, healthiest cockroaches you have ever seen. They came with the 300 years old house and I swear they had been living there for all 300 years, too. We had all our things gassed in the moving truck so we wouldn’t take them with us to the new house.

We got two healthy young cockroaches in the donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts, so we killed the roaches and stopped buying donuts. I think we totally lost all taste for donuts at that point.

We had plenty of ants when we lived in Boston, but no rats or mice. Ants are ubiquitous: no matter where you live, the ants will find you. On the other hand, we also had cats and I suspect they took care of the other problem.

When we moved out of Boston into the country, we merely exchanged critter for other critters.  Our conversation, the exterminator and me, moved on from what kind of critters were going to take up residence in our house to how likely we were to get into a nuclear war. He was an unenthusiastic Trump guy and to my amazement, we had a relatively civilized conversation. He wasn’t trying to convert me and I wasn’t trying to convince him. He pointed out that in such an event, ONLY the cockroaches would survive.

You can’t kill roaches.

wall.alphacoders.com

When Garry worked at Channel 7, they suffered from rats. Big, mean hairy rats from the docks. The station was pretty close to the water. The rats used to walk calmly up the marble steps, slide under the door and ramble on into the station. It was a bit breath-taking. They weren’t afraid of any of the people watching them stroll up the steps, all our mouths literally hanging open.

Garry knew about the rats, but he said the two-legged ones were really worse than the four-legged ones and sometimes, he had trouble telling the difference.

In the spring, I’ll have to sign up again with the exterminators. It is one of the unavoidable things about living in the country. If you ignore the critters, they multiply and eventually, you realize that you are but one, while they are many. Rich or poor, if you live in the country, things that live out in the wild will want to share your warm and cozy home.

Pick your exterminator with care and remember, you cannot rehome mice. They always come back.

SHARING MY WORLD IN THE FIRST MONTH OF WHAT SURELY MEANS “SPRING”

Share Your World – April 2, 2018

What was or is your favorite cartoon?

George, George, George of the Jungle …. FRIEND TO YOU AND ME … (But watch out for that tree!)

Which cooking utensil (other than the usual pots and pans etc) would you miss the most?

My wooden spoons. They get used for so many different things. Now that all my pots and pans are non-stick, I need them more than ever.

Would you dare to sleep in haunted house overnight?

My first house was haunted. I loved it. We lived there for 9 years. Not all hauntings are scary. Some are just former residents of the house who like to hang around.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  

Vinegar, Comet, Windex, and anything else hat kills ants. I am sure ants are entitled to a life of their own, but not in MY house.

041514 sywbanner
Share Your World

ABOUT THOSE ANTS …

AND STILL MORE ANTS!

I was dreading going into the kitchen this morning.

It will be five more days — five very long days — until the pest control people can get the job done. Until next Thursday, we will continue to have ants.

They haven’t left the premises. But not as bad as yesterday because very little is as bad as yesterday.

Gibbs is not bothered by bugs. I don’t think he even notices the ants.

I got up early to make sure the dogs had enough water and turn the coffee on … and see how many ants had returned to the kitchen. I was pleased that there were some — small bunches and single wanderers — and more of the little sugar ants than carpenter ants today, but at least it wasn’t like yesterday.

Yesterday, it was me standing alone against the crawling hordes. This wasn’t nearly as bad. I cleaned up and went back for another hour or two of sleep.

I hate ants. I’ve probably mentioned that before.

He would like to order some special treats, if only I’d leave the credit card next to the computer!

At around 11, when I know it’s get up or have Duke knock the door open and leap onto the bed, I gave Garry a shake and we got up. He hit the kitchen first. I’m sure he was filled with fear of what he might find. Not so bad … at least not compared to yesterday. Anything was better than yesterday. He killed some, and then I arrived and killed some more.

“Die you little bastards” I cry, but they don’t hear me.

Ants are single-purpose insects. It turns out these ants — the carpenter ants — kill other insects so in theory, I should welcome them.

I don’t.

Otherwise, they build monuments. They walk in lock step and build hills full of ants and more ants and if they had the world to themselves, they would fill it completely with nothing but more and more ants. Some cartoon I read said if you weighed all the ants on earth, they would weigh more than all the people on earth.

Think about that.

The Duke is alert and watching for danger … mainly for the neighbors. Ants are not on his list.

Doesn’t that give you a big pause for thought? There are a lot of ants on this earth and about half of them seem to be living in my backyard having (it would appear) built a monumental hill next to the foot of the deck.

This house is old and it has a lot of damp areas of wood. The ants like damp wood. Short of stripping the house and essentially rebuilding it — we are going to have to live with an old house and its bugs.

There are trillions of ants and one of you. They are there, watching you and waiting.

Have a fabulous holiday weekend.

ONE ANT, TWO ANTS, THREE ANTS, TEN MILLION ANTS

ONE ANT, TWO ANTS, THREE ANTS, MORE …

Yesterday, I saw an ant. Just one ant. He climbed onto my computer screen. Yuck.

I said  to Garry”I guess it really IS spring. There’s an ant on my computer.”

Mental marker. Call D&T Pest Control. They fixed us last year. They will fix us this year. Decent prices and if there’s another problem, they come back and do it again, free.


D & T Pest and Termite Control, Inc.  
5 Stars (from everyone, no less)
21 Google reviews
Pest control service in Bellingham, Massachusetts
7 Judy Lane, Bellingham, MA 02019
Hours: Open 24 hours
Phone: (508) 966-4470


This morning I went into the kitchen and there were a million ants. Everywhere. In every drawer and cabinet. On the floor. Not in any of the food because every single food item in this house is in a sealed container. Been here before. Between the mice and the ants, I’m a serious sealer-upper of all food stuffs. I wash every item as soon as it gets used.

Where did they come from? Yesterday, ONE ant. Today — the world is covered in big black (no wings, so not termites) ants. Carpenter ants, probably. They are the big black ones, but I also saw a good number of little sugar ants. Where there’s one, the others can’t be far behind.

Garry and I ripped the kitchen apart. Finally threw away ALL those old Dunkin’ Donut cups and containers from who knows when that that gathered under the sink. Washed, sprayed, washed, sprayed. Hauled trash.

Then washed, vacuumed, sprayed, washed and sprayed more.

And then called D&T and said I had a serious ant emergency and how could so many ants show up when there was just ONE yesterday? I must have had that desperate sound in my voice. I had been invaded.

“Who knows?” she said.

I think they came up from a hill in the backyard and are coming in under the French doors and the kitchen door because they are definitely centered in the kitchen. I found a bunch in the dining room and we haven’t even used that room for months.

Although we have mostly cleared them out for the moment, I don’t doubt they will be back in three heartbeats.

And, it’s pouring rain. They want us and the dogs OUT of the house for at least four hours. On a normal day, no problem. Dogs go into yard, we take cameras and take pictures of the dam, but we were …

BETRAYED!

In this weather, I can’t in any conscience put the dogs outside. So we are going to have to set up a date for the first day it isn’t raining, hopefully tomorrow.

It has been beautiful for the past two days. Why is it cold and raining today? Why us? Why are the heavens falling on us when we need dry?

Meanwhile, the nice lady from UMass Memorial called . Just to find out how I’m doing. They’ve been doing that lately. It was a bad day for that call. I was not in a happy mood. I have been spraying and cleaning and spraying and tossing trash for hours and I am NOT feeling polite. Or even civil. So she got the sharper side of my tongue. Not that the hospital didn’t deserve it, but this was the wrong day to try to have a normal conversation with me. There were ANTS EVERYWHERE.

I hate ants.

Ants. I hate the ants. They have followed us from Charles River Park in Boston to Beacon Hill. From Beacon Hill, they came to join us in Roxbury. And then, they showed up here. Worse than ever.

I hate bugs. I really hate bugs. No one hates bugs MORE than I do and in recent years, I have been plagued by these nasty things. I actually took some kind of sick pleasure is squashing these little bastards and hearing their thorax go crunch. It is unworthy of me.

I apologize.

The ants are just being ants. But I am just being human.

ANT RELIEF

BANISHING THE ANT ARMY

We have not (yet) been overwhelmed by a massive wave of caterpillar eating machines. So far, the tree spraying and endless rain have held them back, though they seem to be doing damage elsewhere. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Life marches on. This year, it’s ants.

They arrive in May and by June they are getting aggressive. This year’s bunch are more tenacious than usual. As long as I can remember, the ants make a determined attempt to set up their new world order in our house. They did the same in other houses in which we have lived in New England.

Ants arrive with the spring. No matter how I rant and rail about it, they show up anyway.

I spray the hell out of everything. I wash everywhere. Clean under, over, around and through the kitchen and living room. Floors, cabinets. Under, over, and around the knife block and the small oven. Behind the cutting boards.

We threw out the old wooden bread box. Garry said he thought the ants were setting up shop in it. It’s old. I bought it at a yard sale 15 years ago. It’s an old-fashioned wooden slatted breadbox. I’m a sucker for old wooden kitchen stuff. But I think that old bread box has passed its prime.

Now it’s out on the deck, soon to make its move to the trash and I have ordered the largest, best-designed breadbox I could find.

This should, in theory, hold two loaves of bread or one loaf and plus English muffins. Not quite the $2 yard sale choice of last time, but presumably easier to clean and more spacious. I hope so. We went with the flat top so we could put stuff up there. Like the big containers of spice for which I’m running out of room.

I used steel-wool to polish the drains in the sink. I cleaned between the cabinet and the fridge,. then I washed, vacuumed, washed again every surface I could find. After which, I sprayed more ant killer. This is supposed to be safe for humans and dogs. It better be or we are all doomed.

Now, the builders have arrived. I’m trying to not listen to the conversation. It might make me want to get involved, which would not be a good idea. They are professionals and I am not. No matter what they are doing, my interference would be unlikely to improve the situation — neither mine nor theirs.

I do not yet know if the result of all of this energetic cleaning and washing and spraying and scrubbing will be the final end of the ants, but it certainly can’t hurt, right? And inevitably, they disappear all by themselves in a week or two. I think they show up entirely to force me to to all that extra cleaning I typically avoid. Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide if I deserve new grids for the bottom of the sink and maybe a new set of shakers for spices.

It’s a housewifely thing, that cozy sense of relief I feel when I’ve done the work on a long deferred — but necessary — task. I’m not sure Garry gets that same feeling from it, but it always gives me a warm feeling that my house-keeping skills are still with me.

But now — I’m also ready for a nice, long, nap. The day feels as if it’s over … yet it’s barely lunch time!

THE PELLETS WITH THE POISON ARE ON THE BENCH IN THE SHOP …

The ants have returned. It’s an annual event all over New England. They usually don’t show up in April. Typically, they wait for May or even June. This year, they’re here. In force. Everywhere.

Being as I don’t feel inclined to kill the birds, the dogs, and us, I have to find solutions that aren’t going to do serious damage. I also have to be careful since the water table is high and we have a well. Not poisoning our own well is always a good thing.

poison eco-smart

I bought two big spray bottles of Scott’s Eco-Smart Home Pest Control Spray for Crawling Insects (it works as well as the horribly lethal stuff) and a 10-lb bag of Scott’s Eco-Smart poison pellets for the yard. Because not only are the ants back, but so are the ticks. I can’t prevent them entirely, but maybe I can reduce their presence.

All of this reminds me of …

Have a great day!

Bugs

Spring is coming. You can’t tell from the flowers. Our early spring bulbs seem to have died under the assault of late ice and snow. You can’t tell by the buds on the trees which are not nearly as fat as they usually are this time of year.

But you can tell by the bugs. They are already on the move.

Yesterday, the ants were back. And this morning, there was a big ugly black widow spider in my sink.

Immature female.

I love all living things, but spiders totally creep me out. I’ve been afraid of spiders since I was a kid. Finding this one in my sink before I’d even had my first cup of coffee was not an auspicious start for the day.

We don’t have any bug sprays in the house. I always mean to get some ant spray, spider and other crawly thing spray, and something for hornets and wasps too, but I forget and never have them when I need them. After all these years living in the woods where we have so many disgusting, scary bugs, you’d think I’d get the message, but every winter I forget how nasty it gets when the bugs come crawling and flying in with the spring.

So there I am in the kitchen. The dogs are prancing happily around my feet anticipating the first biscuits of the day and while I’m staring at this revolting spider in stark contrast against the white porcelain of the sink, I actually had the presence of mind to hit the “start” button on the coffee machine. This probably speaks to my urgent need for coffee more than anything else. I poured detergent on my multi-legged intruder figuring it had to be pretty toxic, but it apparently wasn’t toxic enough.

That having failed, I turned on the hot water. We have very hot water. Once it gets to its full temperature, it’s hot enough to burn you and it eventually cooked Mr. Spider. It wasn’t easy. That was one tough hombre of a spider, but eventually, I not only killed him, but I pretty much melted him.

Latrodectus hesperus with egg sac

It wasn’t a good start to a day that wasn’t going especially well. I biscuited the dogs, finally got myself some coffee, and settled in at the computer jumping and going “eek” every time I felt as if something was brushing against me.

I have finally come to terms with the little brown garden spiders that invade my office ever year, but we have a lot of brown recluse and black widows and I will never get used to them.

I don’t even mind all the snakes. We have more than a few snakes, all harmless — more or less. Even non-poisonous snakes have teeth, but snakes eat rodents and bugs, so I put up with them. Garry feels about snakes as I do about spiders, so we try to warn him where to be careful because there are parts of our property that are particularly attractive to the largest of our resident snakes. There’s one especially big one that lives in the garden wall. We find her skins in the garden.

And the white-headed wasps are nasty, mean and for some reason, love us. We’ve had to call the pros to come and remove their nests from around our electric meter and a really huge one from up by the chimney.

Living in the country is not for the faint of heart. I have had to fend off determined racoon, fishers, skunk, coyote and bobcats. We’ve had attempted invasions by rats and mice (yes, they do live together), flying ants, earwigs, beetles and one year, a mass invasion by absolutely gorgeous butterflies, but there were millions of them and beauty doesn’t mean they can’t be pests. One year, for about a week, the house was almost entirely covered by ladybugs.

I deal with it, but I get spooked. It’s only March. I’ll be jumping at shadows by June and completely freaked out by August. I am not cut out to be a hardy pioneer. I’m just a transplanted city girl, coping.

I like nature. I just wish it would stay outside where it belongs and leave my house for me.

Note: If you are, as I am, an arachnophobe, do NOT read the article about bat-eating spiders. Just … don’t. I did. I wish I hadn’t. But, make your own decision.