Saturday, November 22, 2008

What the Hell Was That?

We had a looming crisis this past week in our household. To be honest with you, I wasn't even going to post about it because of the stigma involved. But because we got lucky, I feel free to write about it now. A few nights ago, M. woke me up at about 3:00AM. I was naturally dazed, and couldn't figure out why I should have been roused from a deep sleep at that ungodly hour on a school night (which illuminates my pervasive lack of grace, as M. has been interrupted multiple times nightly for the past year by Baby E.). It turned out that M. had been feeding the kid, and she looked up to spot what she believed to be a roach on the wall. She made an effort to crush it, but she believed that it got away. She wanted me to search the wicker laundry basket that was below the scene of the attempted murder.

I couldn't find the carcass... not that I especially wanted to. I've had my experiences with these nasty bugs. My dorm complex in college was rife with them. One day I heard a high-pitched screaming coming from the bathroom area, and I rushed over to see one of the freshman football players, clad only in a towel and just out of the shower. He was pointing in horror to what was then one of the biggest insects I had ever seen in my life. With its antennae, it was about six inches long and several inches wide. The backup quarterback was there too, and he was hocking big thick loogies, and launching them on to the back of the monster. It was truly a surreal site. To see these big dudes quivering like schoolgirls was entertaining, but this thing really was horrific.

Years later I went to Tampa, FL and came across "palmetto bugs" that hopped around an outdoor shower. So yeah... I don't like cockroaches. In my heart of hearts all I could hope for was that this pest in the baby's room was an isolated incident. M. was more proactive however, and made an appointment with an exterminator for the next day. I was leery, as I always suspect companies that agree to come to your house for free no-obligation inspections. I speculated that some guy would show up and drag roach eggs into our place on the bottom of his shoes. If we weren't already infested, we would be soon. Still M. couldn't be budged. She was not willing to risk a full-scale invasion.

When the man with the poison juice showed up, he guessed that what M. had seen was a stowaway from one of the large cardboard boxes that E.'s diapers regularly arrive in. He was actually reticent to spray with a nursing mother and child under the age of one. He left with a promise to come back and look at the bug, should we ever find its maimed body. And today M. found the thing. She identified it as the original perp through the extensive damage she had exacted on it. Wonder of wonders, the exterminator was true to his word and agreed to come back to have a look-see at the remains. We waited for him to show up and give us a verdict on the shell of a creature that was now preserved in a plastic sandwich bag.

Our joy was not to be contained when he gave us his conclusion- it wasn't a cockroach after all, but rather a brown marmorated "stink bug". Apparently these creatures often seek shelter indoors once temperatures begin to fall. Fortunately they do not reproduce as quickly as the species they resemble. We were told that we didn't have a problem. They don't come in bunches. Ours was a lone visitor. Before the man left, I asked him what health hazards cockroaches present. He said that an allergen associated with them can cause asthma, emphysema other lung ailments (especially in children) and that the federal government is actually paying exterminators to go into low-income developments and do preventative spraying. We dodged a bullet.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations! You must be truly relieved. I've seen stink bugs in stores and in office settings walking across a floor. If you look at my Flickr site, you can see a macro of one crawling across a tile floor. When hiking a couple of months ago, the rocks were crawling with them. While scary looking, once you know what they are, there's little cause for alarm.The only thing we've had here are pillbugs, which are also harmless but DO travel in packs. We apparently had a spider living under the grandfather clock which was gobbling them up and leaving a pile of carcasses. Truly weird.

Glad to hear there are honest service people out there. Now, one question solely out of curiosity...what did he charge you for the two visits? {Understandably, at times like that, money doesn't seem to be an issue]


8:41 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

He charged us absolutely nothing. (I liked your spider story).

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You city folks crack me up: See one bug and call in Central Services with poison that's even more dangerous than the bugs themselves! Sounds like baby E. is the one that dodged the biggest bullet of all - thanks to a pest control guy who's decent enough to forego endangering a baby with his pesticides.

And if you should ever see a real roach, there are safer alternatives:

6:34 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Thanks for the tip, anon.

7:32 PM  

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