Saturday, July 3, 2010

"It was... a mighty...duel."

A guest post by Husband.

Lydia's been occupied lately with a pressing photography project, and so I've been commissioned to keep things up and running around here. By "here" I of course mean Lydia's blog. She normally writes about events of importance in her life, and without a doubt the largest single event lately has been... bugs. If you're exceptionally squeamish, you may want to skip this one. For those who dare, read on.

It all started many weeks ago when we first moved into what we thought was a great new apartment. Same ward, cheaper, bigger bathroom and closet, and my personal favorite- brand new carpeting. A couple weeks after we got settled, I noticed that I was having to kill a lot more bugs than usual. In our other apartment, I only ever saw one thing bigger than a fruit fly, and it was a roach that had clearly lost its way and crawled up the bathtub drain.

Long story short(er), the presence of roaches had become an increasingly common and disgusting aspect of our new home. This needed to end, partly because roaches are gross, and partly because they're a favorite prey of the Arizona Bark Scorpion, something I want to avoid even more. And so started a series of battles. First, we went to the office to have maintenance come and spray for the little scoundrels. They did, but to no avail. Almost two weeks later, nothing had changed. So I went down to the store, with instructions from Lydia to buy the bug spray that would be safe around little kids, since we have one.

And so, I bought the spray that had a picture of a little girl and a golden retriever puppy on it. I was skeptical at first, because I know what it takes to get rid of roaches, from when I was a little kid in Anaheim with dirty neighbors (It was bad enough that my sister and I had been forced to adopt the practice of always checking the inside of our shoes before putting them on). The list of ingredients didn't help matters any. It included things like (I swear I am not making this up): rosemary oil, water, and (wait for it) nitrogen. Yep. And it's EPA approved! All for a mere 75% premium over Raid, the old standby from the 80s.

But, it would be safe around the boy. So I came home and sprayed all around the appliances and everywhere we had seen roaches. And holy cow, was it ever fragrant. The label said that the fresh smell tells you it's working, but what it told us was that we better get out of the house for a while because it smelled like a scented candle factory had exploded.

Again, no change. A couple days later it was Monday morning. By now the bugs had launched a counteroffensive and were around more than ever. I was getting ready for work, just before 8 in the morning, when Lydia started freaking out in the kitchen. I soon learned why.

See, Lydia's normally pretty tough, and isn't the kind of person who runs away in horror from anything with 6 or more legs. But this was different. Inside the sink was one of the foulest creatures I have ever laid eyes on. Most of our troubles here have been with the German and Brown Banded cockroaches, which are bad but not as vile as the big, nasty, black Oriental type that I learned to hate so well back on good old Ames Avenue. This one looked like some mutant combination of all three. Here is a rough sketch I've prepared:
As soon as it lumbered within striking distance, I went to grab a shoe to end its miserable existence on this fallen world. In the meantime, it had taken up a defensive position underneath the part where the counter hangs slightly over the lower cabinets and dishwasher. I threw it off balance once, but it managed to escape back to its protected cave between the oven and the mostly-hidden water heater.

It wasn't over, though. The roaches, sensing the weakness of our forces (we were out of the bug spray by now) had become emboldened enough to make another strike. I had to get up twice more while having breakfast to engage the enemy- one on the wall by the table and another on the floor by the front door. We were driven back, but not defeated, when I decided to go to work late and call in reinforcements instead.

At the grocery store, I bought one of everything that had a roach on it, and steered clear of children, pets, and all cuteness generally. The labels said it all: "Keep out of reach of children." "Keeps killing for up to 6 months." "Immediately leave treated area." Instead of water, petroleum distillates. Instead of nitrogen, neurotoxins. Poison instead of puppies.

With this new and more powerful arsenal, I immediately struck behind enemy lines, first with the spray in the last place I had seen the big one. After not very long, he was driven out and our forces scored a direct hit. He bailed from the counter into the sink that had once been his fortress, but after two more direct hits and an unsuccessful attempt at retreat, I found him upside down, motionless, in the drain cup of the sink.

It was our first major victory, but there was little time to celebrate. Lydia grabbed the boy and his diaper bag and went out to the car, and I covered almost everything with newspaper and set out two chairs in the kitchen and front room of the apartment. Off went the electricity and out came the roach foggers, the ultimate weapon in the battle against disease-spreading, scorpion-attracting invaders. Two quick pops and I was out the door, to join Lydia and the boy in the car, and spend a much less eventful day at work.

About four hours later, per the instructions, Lydia came back to survey the scene. Several bodies, and one that was still moving. The other roaches had tried to tell him, "Man, don't try to be a hero out there. It's not worth it." Indeed it wasn't. He was eliminated and the bodies were given the unceremonious toilet burial they deserved.

Things have been comparatively quiet since then. There has been a small skirmish with some carpet beetles, but a pest control mercenary hired by the front office seems to have gotten rid of them, since I have not yet seen a live one today. May this post serve as a stern warning to bugs across the Valley: this is what you get when you mess with us.

Ye be warned... Dead bugs tell no tales.


Jen said...

1) Adam, you should guest post more often. This is hilarious.

2) I had a similar experience in my first apartment in Tempe. Except instead of Raid, my roommate decided DISH SOAP would kill them. She squirted it everywhere. It was not effective.

Karyna said...

U should come spray our place they're so creepy!

Heather!! said...

you know--forget me, ADAM should write a book!!!

Mely said...

Ok Heather beat me to it, but seriously NEED to write a book! This was one of the best, wittiest, well written blogs I have EVER had the privilege of reading...and your wife does a DARN good job herself!

Lauren Kristine said...

Um... Adam... this made me want to throw up a little. I'm having flashbacks of the time you had to pull off my pink and white velcro shoe and ruffled eyelet SOCK to remove a roach that had somehow made a home in there. Such a disgusting juxtaposition of visuals.