Who invited them?

10May2013

The CRUNCH:
Who invited them?

CRUNCH deets:
Ahh… spring. Which means it’s almost time for sticky popsicle kisses, sprinklers, splashpads, dog day afternoons, and… bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. It’s not summer yet, but from the ants in the kitchen to the squirrels digging up the grass, the season’s party-crasher is already starting to, well, bug you.

The Fix:
Show them who’s king of your castle.

Fix deets:
We have these creepy-crawlers that lurk around our basement in the dead of the night. Our kids call them leggers, because they have about a million legs (and because that’s what Sister Bear calls them). We pride ourselves on our non-scaredy-pants reaction to most bugs, but this one freaks the crap out of both of us. The saving grace, aside from sleeping two floors away, is that we know they’re harmless. If we freeze the second we spot them and then slowly reach for the nearest slipper/croc while they’re staring us down, we’re usually quick enough to BAM. Dead. Good thing too because they’re so fast we rarely get a second chance. Google told us to cover drains (donezo) and seal off any house cracks… um, our house is like a hundred years old. Leaving extra shoes strategically lying around the way some parents scatter crib pacifiers is about the only way we manage to deal with The Others.

But there are some irritating insects we’re a little more knowledgeable about. Take ants, for example. In the past couple of weeks we noticed one ant, then another, then about ten more, crawling along the kitchen floor. We smooshed them, the boys stomped on them, the baby tried to eat them, life went on. This happens every spring until we remember to break out the chalk. That colourful bucket is more than just hours of entertainment for the toddler crowd – it’s actually a pretty powerful ant-repellant. We learned this from one of our wise South African grandmothers; year-round-picnics meant year-round-ants-be-gone. We draw a line around the doorsteps and any floor-level windows we feel like decorating and sure enough, within a few days we notice… nothing. As in no ants. The chalk won’t do anything for ants already cohabiting with your kitchen crumbs, and a stealthy one might figure out how to break the line once in a while, but, well, that’s where children, pets, and the vacuum come in handy.

We haven’t seen any yet but we know they’re coming: fruit flies. Nothing less appetizing than reaching for that glass of red – or, er, plump and juicy peach – and seeing them take flight. We did our research years ago and a bunch of recommendations involved apple cider vinegar and dish soap… which didn’t cut it for us. Our fruit flies are just too darn smart. But, smart as they are, they can’t outwit something far more basic: hairspray. We keep a bottle on the kitchen counter and as soon as we see them hovering, get a little spray happy. Keeping in mind that hairspray is STICKY and can take the shine off our cabinet paint, we leave some irresistible strawberry tops, banana peels, or pear cores in a bowl (or just dumped in the sink) and then spray it whenever we pass by. They hide among the compost-to-be, but the second the mist hits them they attempt to escape, and that’s when the stick-factor kicks in – gunking up their wings so they can’t fly and end up either drowned or squished under a handy paper towel. Seriously satisfying.

Not to be outdone by the insect crowd, the squirrels and raccoons are also at it again. One of us really, really loves tending to our grass. It’s very calming to be one with the grass when we mow, rake, seed, fertilize, spread, and then lie amongst those luxurious blades. Not so calming however is waking up to dug-up dirt pockets amongst the green after a night of rodents going to town. So, after spending an entire spring, summer, and fall removing the decades-old dead-tree roots to eliminate grub-harbouring wood, and then re-sodding both the front and back lawn, we’re not about to sit idly by while the pests dig up what little grubs remain. We tried Critter Ridder, which was great for a few days or until it rained. Guaranteed for thirty days? Uh… no. This year, we’ve put a very fine-mesh net across the grass, which they find too irritating to walk across and haven’t yet figured out how to outwit. Suckers! Sure, it takes a few minutes to remove when we have to mow or want to play on the grass, but that’s a lot less time than it takes to fix the mess they leave behind. The other thing our raccoons haven’t figured out yet is our green-bin latch… score one for opposable thumbs.

Remember this:
You don’t always have to compromise. Just because we love nature doesn’t mean we want it to move in. If there’s something bugging you, chances are it bugged someone else too and a simple solution’s only a few clicks or an old wive’s tale away. Just don’t Google ‘indoor centipede’ before you go to sleep!

Email us your feedback and any centipede solutions… please!

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