How many types of bugs live in your house right this minute? More than you might think! Science weighs in. (Washington Post, January 19, 2016)
Skimming the morning headlines, this one about bugs catches my eye. I don’t want to know the answer. I am bug phobic and the idea of crawling into the attic or under the house to inspect for insects is my worst nightmare.
After living in pest-free homes for 10 years and feeling safe and smug in my new, second floor apartment, I was horrified the other morning to see my cats chasing a roach across the living room carpet. Not the biggest I’ve ever seen, but not the smallest either. I jumped up, almost spilling my coffee, and tried to trap it under a bowl. It eluded me and ran under a big copper pot I used for firewood near the fireplace.
I considered running right out and buying spray, but decided to bide my time. At least, so far anyway, it had not run under my bed. I kept my eyes open the rest of the day, annoyed that my sense of calm had been disturbed.
Surely such a well-maintained building would not have roaches, like many of my older beach apartments. Memories of putting away my husband’s shirts and encountering a HUGE roach waving at me from a hanger. Of waking up in the middle of the night to cat commotion – and a GIGANTIC roach climbing the wall. In that case, I chased the creature down with adrenaline, emptying a whole can of bug spray until it limped under my wicker shelf unit. There it remained since I was too afraid to move the shelf and check. Years later when I moved my son found its desiccated body.
In that apartment I also used to get flying beetles during the summer, at least one a day. They were clunky, bonked themselves into the window and were easy to trap under bowls. Sometimes I was brave enough to slip a piece of cardboard underneath and run outside. My neighbors must have wondered what I was doing, flinging bowls into the air. Other times I lacked courage and the bowl – or bowls – would sit there a long time. One day my mother-in-law came over. “What are all these bowls?” she asked. “There’s a bug under each one,” I told her. She loved to tell that story on me.
Another time my mother was visiting and in flew a beetle. She calmly walked over to the window, curled her hand around the buzzing bug, and carried it out the front door. Clearly I did not inherit my bug phobia from her!
But back to the current invader. The next morning, there it was on the kitchen floor, my cats hovering, nose to nose. Again, it was faster than my bowl and ran under the refrigerator. I scurried straight to the drugstore and the pest control section, armed with memories and internet research. The “bait station” will poison a roach but not before it returns to the nest and poisons the rest. The idea of a “nest” nearby, say inside a bedroom wall, next to my sleeping head, sends me totally to freaks-ville! And if I only kill one roach, what if others come looking on a search and rescue mission, the big guns, the big kahunas? The ones like they have in Texas that FLY or in Madagascar that hiss?
I carefully placed the bait stations under the frig, copper pot, bookshelf, kitchen and bathroom sinks. I talked to the manager of the building. We’ve never had roaches, she assured me. We spray outside regularly. Maybe it came in with something, like paper bags from the grocery store.
Yes, I have been bringing in plants from the nursery, pots from the garage, and more paper bags than usual from the nearby Trader Joe’s. Keep me posted, she said.
After several days, no reappearance. Knowing it may be a free rider, a hitchhiker, rather than a permanent resident has reassured me somewhat. But I will NOT read the article about the latest scientific study on how many other bugs are lurking around. I honestly don’t want to know if it’s more than I think. I don’t want to think about it at all.