Thoughts on Mebane: Killin’ Critters
Thoughts on mebane: Killin’ Critters
As we work through the dog days of August, everything seems to be growing everywhere.
Whether it’s the ivy vines on the side of my house, or the crabgrass in my front yard, or the watermelon vines trying to take over the backyard, August is a time for life. Especially when there’s rain like we’ve been getting lately around Mebane.
Unfortunately, this time for living also includes many living things we’re not as crazy about.
Ants. Flies. Mosquitoes. Spiders. Assorted other critters such as silverfish, roaches, ticks, and beetles.
Professional companies get paid handsomely to take many of these concerns off the hands of citizens. And they’re worth the money, at least from our family’s experience. Ever since we had a couple of black widow spiders decide to take up residence in our old house in Durham in the summer of 2008, we’ve relied on Orkin.
Orkin handles the big stuff. They spray a substance around the perimeter of our house every two months, and it tends to work quite well. We haven’t seen any black widow spiders in our five years in Mebane, which is a very good thing with a four-year-old and seven-year-old getting into everything in sight. They also ensure that critters aren’t invading the interior of our house, which they aren’t.
My primary whine in this space is the critters in my detached garage/work shed, which doesn’t get quite the same bi-monthly royal treatment from the good folks at Orkin. Whereas the critters thankfully aren’t invading our house, they seem to be congregating instead in my detached garage.
For these “hits,” as the Mafia calls pre-arranged kills, I’m left to my own devices.
One of the best pieces of news this summer on the critter front is the complete absence of mosquitoes in my backyard. That’s because the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator lives up to its name. The Spartan Mosquito Eradicator tubes are simply amazing. You fill them with warm water, shake, and hang them on a tree branch, and within a few days, there’s simply no mosquitoes anywhere around. It doesn’t get any easier or more efficient, and I can’t recommend this product highly enough to our readers.
Despite the summer-long absence of mosquitoes, however, as August began, I found myself in a dilemma. Thanks to my copious consumption of Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola, and the occasional spills that come with it, ants have been an ongoing issue this summer in my detached garage. You try to clean up the spills as best you can with Clorox clean wipes and disinfectant spray. But the ants find sweetness like a moth finds a flame.
There have also – for the first time I can remember in our five years living in Mebane – been baby flies this summer. Not the great big biting flies with green hues that you see at the Outer Banks. Not even the fat little buggers you see normally flying around wherever. These are tiny flies – barely out of their cocoon, it would seem. Where the heck are they coming from?
My trash can in the shed could be a problem. While I don’t cook regularly out there, I do cook some of my more exotic and smell-the-house-up dishes – seafood, bacon, etc. – outside of our regular kitchen.
I learned after one particularly negative experience to never, ever leave an empty bacon package in my shed’s trash can, even with the lid on. You may as well put up a sign on the front door asking every maggot and other disgusting creature around town to come on in and set up shop. Lesson learned. That’s not the culprit this summer.
Throughout my detached garage, I placed these little squares with bait in them to take care of my little ant problem. On the first day, many of the ants dutifully walked to their deaths in these little squares with the plastic openings. It was satisfying, despite the slight twinge of irony in knowing these little guys were being cleverly lured to their demise.
In recent days, the ants have been coming back, in small pockets of two or three here and there. For these ants, the best solution has been good ol’ Raid spray. One press on the trigger and that’s that. Although it’s not terribly desirable to have to spray on a workbench with tools lying around, or in an area where food has been and will be prepared in the future. You can use disinfectants and take all the proper measures to be safe. But bug spray is still bug spray.
My fly problem has been slowly going away, thanks to two friends – one old, one new.
The new friend is Raid Fly Stick, a contraption that you hang and the flies come and stick themselves to it. Although fly paper has been around forever, this summer has been my first experience with Fly Stick.
But honestly, Fly Stick has absolutely nothing on that oldest and most effective of fly killers – the good ol 99 cent fly swatter.
Killing a fly with a fly swatter is honestly the closest most humans will ever get on a day-to-day basis of being a contract killer or a bounty hunter.
The game of cat and mouse that comes with trying to kill an annoying fly can be compelling, especially when you’re bored to tears. The waiting. The pondering. The anticipation. The laser-focus as you try to hone in on one. The whiff of a missed attempt. Reloading for the next try.
It makes me occasionally ponder one of the paradoxes of the bible.
The Ten Commandments, which have served as a guide to living for millions of people for centuries, explicitly says Thou Shalt Not Kill.
But I must be honest. When I see ants traipsing around in the house or my detached garage, or a silverfish hanging on an interior wall, or a persistent fly roaming around, all I want to do is kill it. By any means necessary.
Are we to feel shame for having such desires? By wanting to kill something that’s bothering you so much that it absolutely consumes you until the task is done?
Many biblical scholars believe that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.
What’s clear to me is that Moses couldn’t possibly have received the Thou Shalt Not Kill instructions during the middle of a summer in the American South when there’s an insect infestation nearby.
And the Thou Shalt Not Kill commandment simply must have a caveat when it comes to critters.
Let the people live. Let the cats and the dogs and the goats and the turtles and the alligators and the bears and the whales live. Especially let the bees live. We need them for pollen, and I need them for my cucumbers, watermelons, and tomatoes. That’s why I’m not a fan of wide scale pesticide usage on my property. Bees aren’t pests.
But if it’s an invading insect, or a pestering arachnid, dispatch of it with extreme prejudice. That’s my strategy. And while it’s been hit-or-miss this summer with various critters, the hunt will continue. At least until it gets cold again.