Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Pest Man Cometh

Monday afternoon, Joseph's physical therapist showed up early. I had just started the pre-therapy cleaning blitz wherein I frantically remove layers of toys, clothes, food, couch cushions, and orthopedic equipment from the floor and sweep so that Joseph has a bit of room to work. As I answered the door I said, half jokingly, "Oh, no! You're early! I haven't cleaned up, yet." "No problem," she said, "Some of the houses I go to have roaches."

I laughed nervously. Minutes before her arrival I'd grabbed Margaret as she gleefully tried to catch a roach she found under the kitchen sink. The therapist killed another one before the hour was out.

We've battled mice, too. After trapping four or five we hadn't seen any mouse evidence for awhile but then last week saw signs of a mouse revival. I discovered droppings in the usual kitchen area, the bedroom, the laundry room, the linen drawers. Also, oddly, the spice drawer. I buy my spices in bulk and they are all sealed inside metallic or plastic bags. Did you know that mice will chew through both of these things to get cocoa powder, parsley, and baking soda. That's right. Baking soda.

We don't really understand our landlord. He owns this building with fifteen units, about half of which are vacant. Some (like ours) are renovated, others aren't. Some individual units have been sold, but we're renting. It's an odd situation and he's pretty laid back. But he did assign someone to deal with the pest problem which, apparently, is building-wide. I wanted to affirm this unusual show of concern for the us tenants.

I'm a big fan of non-toxic living. I read this fantastic book last winter and I have tried to adopt a chemical-free lifestyle ever since. Plus, I have small children. One of them eats everything she finds. I was not excited when the exterminator arrived. He had boxes of poison and bags of traps and spray cans of stuff. He wanted to spray all the baseboards, put poison behind every appliance and line the closets with glue traps. (He also wants our landlord to close all the dog-sized holes in our walls, but I'm not holding my breath.) I protested. He tried not to laugh at me. My husband played the diplomat and in the end we got a little poison, a little spraying, and some glue traps to place at our own discretion. My husband, coincidentally, installed a sound-emitting mouse deterrent the same day.

I hate roaches and mice. I really, really, hate them. They increase my stress level so much. But there must be a better way. All these chemicals feel so temporary. The poison will get eaten, the spray will dissipate and all the little critters will come back (unless that high-pitched sound emitter works as well as it says it will). I'm not the neatest housekeeper, but I was a REALLY bad housekeeper in our old place and we never had a single pest. What's up? Are we all supposed to peacefully co-exist? My husband calls it rustic urban living. If I liked rustic, I wouldn't be living here!


Robyn said...

I hear you. Those fixes are temporary...which I think is sort of why the pest people use them. They can't loose their business entirely for doing a stellar job. I would say covering the dog sized hole is an excellent start. And I would also say throw out the glue traps. They are mean, mean, mean. Snap traps are better. They kill fast. Glue traps just....well...anyway, that is my own mouse bias.

We have seen a few roaches in this place and I never did throughly finish rodent proofing the kitchen. Gotta do it.

And Q. It's not about your housekeeping. It really isn't.


Mrs Pea said...

Oh I can't imagine. When I was at university, my room mate told me about the mice she had in her family home and I thought it would be so cute to have mice. As a mother we had a rat in the garden and I changed my mind about rodents. It must be awful to have them in the house. I will pray for them to leave - maybe there's a saint for that?

Susan said...

There is, actually: St. Martin de Porres. I've had my eye out for a statue of him, but haven't seen one around. It's supposed to work wonders!

Hélène said...

Ewww! I can't stand roaches and neither can my husband. We get the large ones that are 1.5-2 inches long once in a while. Every time I go to the bathroom at night I turn my light on to make sure there aren't any around. I started doing that after reaching for the TP one day and seeing one sitting right on top just before I touched it. I agree with you about not wanting chemicals in the house. We get roaches seldom enough that I don't spray, but I always feel like my home was violated when I find one. My husband gets sick any time he has to take care of one.

Here's a statue of St. Martin, but you will have to cut and paste the link:,3489.htm