Friday, February 15, 2008

small victory

The other night my sister called me as I was cleaning the kitchen. And by cleaning, I mean de-roaching. I will warn you now, that this post is about roaches. I'm writing it to share how to get rid of them, cheer myself on for battling the roaches and spread roach info. If this grosses you out, consider yourself warned.

Anyway, my sister told me that although there is a lot that she would trade with me. She is glad to not have to battle roaches.

We have lived in 5 apartments in almost 6 years in this city and I've noticed some patterns. Some apartments we never saw any bugs or mice. Some apartments were battlegrounds where we daily had to stake our claim to our apartment. What I've noticed is, when we move in things are quiet. The little creatures get stressed out about their new neighbors and stay in hiding for a while. Then. Little by little signs begin to show.

We had mice in this apartment for a little while. I hate mice. I hate them far more than roaches. I think I would pass out if we ever had a rat (though I have friends that had rats, didn't pass out, and got rid of them....still....). But, the trick with mice is to find their holes and plug them up. Sound easy? Nope. If you can squeeze a quarter into the space where your walls and floors meet, a mouse can fit through. Isn't that wild? To block the holes we used caulk and 'quarter rounds' to seal things up. Their hole of preference was behind the stove. Dave nailed boards over it twice. They pried the boards off both times. Then he nailed lots of boards with lots of nails and we have not seen them since.

Once cold weather hit, the roaches came. I'm not really sure why, but they started as little tiny bugs. They don't look like roaches at all. They are almost cute. I don't really think these little guys are 'babies' that grow up into adults. I think that they are adults and the line gets bigger and bigger through the generations. This is merely anecdotal speculation. I'm not sure. But that's my hypothesis. Then the little cute ones disappear and the bugs get bigger and grosser and there are more and more of them.

One night this week I walked into the kitchen and counted 7 large roaches (if you live in Texas, I mean 7 very small roaches. I realize this is all relative. Our large roaches are about an inch long).

After freaking out, I took action.

First I targeted their favorite cabinet. The cabinet where I store my grains. I took everything out and wet a rag. I used borax (a non-toxic laundry detergent) as the 'soap' and scrubbed. There were tons of roach eggs (which I called 'roach dust'...I mean, it really does just look like dust, until I learned better). The reason I use borax is because I am cleaning the place where I store my food. I don't want toxic things in those cabinets...especially with a toddler and preborn. Borax doesn't poison the roaches, it suffocates them. Roaches breath through their legs and the borax is dusty enough that it inhibits their breathing. Also, they track it back into the cracks that they creep from and share it with their buddies.

I also got better about putting away the dishes from the drying rack and putting the rack away. That way there are no inviting puddles of water to quench a roach's thirst. And I sprinkled more borax on the counters.

Now it's rather lonely in my kitchen. No one is waiting for me when I walk in there in the evenings. No one runs around all excited to see me. It feels really great. I always thought that either you had pests or you didn't. That there was very little that you could do about it. But now I feel like a non-toxic roach-fighting superstar.

And good thing, too. My mother is coming tomorrow. She is nervous enough about visiting the city. I can't have little buggies frightening her away.

So let it be said. I have a clean, bug-free, mouse-free, pest-free kitchen.

Muffin, anyone?


Holly said...

Congrats for being pest free! I love the writing style of this particular blog...great story. Have fun w/ Miss Vicki!

thedanceofthegates said...

I recently had the fear of God put into me by some Indian Meal Moths. I noticed them flying around when I decided to open some long forgotten oatmeal. The thing must have weighed five pounds, and it was overflowing with larvae. I found myself surprisingly grateful for the Y chromosone (wink to Lobes), and I just left them alone in the kitchen until my husband came home from work. Luckily, all we had to do was get rid of the oatmeal and seal up our other food.

Susan said...

Hmmm . . . I think I have some Borax in the laundry closet. I'll have to dig it out.

We've noticed that we seldom have roaches and mice at the same time. They both seem to come in waves and as soon as we get rid of one the other shows up to party for awhile. I'm not even sure what mine are eating. There is NO FOOD to attract pests, here. Everything is sealed or stored on the table.

Thanks for the encouragement. One reason I'm glad we're not moving to Texas: I was really scared about what kind of bugs we might have. Isn't that crazy?

Robyn said...

Nope. Not crazy at all. I think I told you about my friend Diana in Dallas. One summer she was setting up her classroom and saw something in the corner of the room. Her first thought? "Oh! A hummingbird got trapped in here!" Then she realized it was a giant flying roach.

So gross.

Susan, I really don't think food has much to do with it. I think that both roach and mice live off of miscroscopic bits that you would see or know about. I know every time I sweep my dining room I am creating a feast for the waiting in between the floor boards. I have given up stressing out about crumbs. Not worth the paranoia and they will find them no matter what I do. I found it far more effective to focus on little holes and such.

Fight on, my friend! Fight on!

Lorie said...

If you never saw any large roaches before the tiny ones you probably brought them in. Baby roaches love brown paper bags and cardboard boxes. So if you buy something from a retail place that has roaches it very easy to bring them home. Growing up there was a pet store we went to for our fish supplies but we always had to unwrap everything in the parking lot and throw away all the paper and cardboard.

Tara Whalen said...

So glad I live in Denver!!!!

Firefly said...

We don't have any roaches in my house and never have. I read a few books about New York City as a kid and they talked about cockroaches. I thought they seemed romantically urbane.

We do have ants by the gazillions.

And infrequent waves of mice.

Also the occasional cricket, sal bug, potato bug, tarantula, gopher, bat, king snake, garden snake, rattlesnake, scorpion, and once, an opossum with its babies that somehow found its way into the linen closet.

Ah, the bucolic life of the country...

Firefly said...

The X chromosome rules around here. Since I interfere with household pest controls (I purposefully snap all the traps I find to preserve the necks of the rodent world), I am charged with removing live specimens to the great outdoors.

Recently I had to trap an alligator lizard (I came running to screams of, "A huge dragon!"), and remove it to the riverbed. Beautiful little thing, she was. I took her over to my grandma's first for show and tell. Grandma was surprisingly ungrateful.

Last night, I caught a mouse in my live-trap. I held the trap up to the light to see if there was anything inside. Soon, a wiggling pink and white little snout poked its way through one of the holes. Then a black little pearl of an eyeball pressed up against the same hole. SO cute! He went to the riverbed, too.

Loralee said...

I had a roach once in an appartment in Boston. I ran across the street to a corner store, bought a can of Raid and waited for the little thing to make an appearance again. as soon as he came out of hiding, I think I drowned the guy in the spray--he couldn't move there was so much coming at him from so close.

I hate pests. We are currently dealing with red squirrels coming a little too close... they have chewed holes in the garbage cans and my compost bucket. I don't know what I'd do if I found them in the house--had enough of that as a little girl.

Good luck keeping the mice and roaches out!