Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Don't Like Bugs

I loved almost everything about my first apartment after college. Before college and during school breaks, I lived in my parents' house. During college, I lived in the dorms. So in mid-May 1997, I moved into my first place, with one of my college roommates. (That part was a mistake, although a roommate was necessary.)

The one thing I didn't love about my new apartment - from the day we moved in - were the roaches. I'd never really encountered these before, but I definitely knew them when I saw them, and I complained to management repeatedly. And they sent over exterminators. Repeatedly. Eventually, the roaches were gone and indeed for the rest of the year I lived in that apartment, we'd find dead bugs on the windowsills and near our front door, but never in our apartment. Yikes.

Until, towards the end, we got moths. These were those little bitty moths that come home, sometimes, in larvae form, hidden in some sort of grain - like imported rice, for instance - from the grocery store. Nothing worked to get rid of these moths.

We moved.

Our new place was amazing. Because I'm comfortable repeating my mistakes, I had the same roommate for the first year I lived in what I called The Home of the Gods. Paul and another college friend lived right downstairs. There were no bugs.


One day I noticed a bad smell in my kitchen. At the time, I was bored to tears with my job and had a boss who lived and worked in Philadelphia, as did her boss, so there was really no big rush for me to get to work in the mornings. So I went back to bed after Paul left for work, I'd take my shower and putter around the place in a state of undress (by this time, my roommate had given way to a much better roommate, who had in turn given way to Paul). I often delayed going to work by cleaning, especially the kitchen.

The kitchen was clean, yet it still stank. I took everything out of the pantry; no culprits there. Over the next few weeks, the stink got worse and worse. Then I started seeing fruit flies, lots of them. I do the grocery shopping and I don't like fruit, so we rarely had any. We didn't at that point. No fruit, nothing open and organic on the counters or in the pantry, yet still, the reek, and still the ever-increasing plague of gnats.

Then, one morning, I followed the stench - which was, by then, strong enough to make my eyes water (and we were eating out a lot) - to the empty drawer below the silverware drawer. Which, at some point, I'd apparently decided would make a great storage place for a bag of potatoes.

I could explain what I saw and smelled when I opened that drawer, but The Cranky Librarian has already done a wonderful job describing a similar scene. I'll leave you with the words maggots, mush, and ohmygod. I slammed the drawer shut and went to work.

Later that evening, Paul and I tackled it together, and when I say that we tackled it together, I mainly mean that I stood nearby offering a combination of moral support, unneeded advice, and a steady supply of cleaning products.

And the gnats went away, but we soon discovered a tiny, brown, vaguely ant-like bug in our pantry, floating in our cereal bowls, burrowing into our wooden pantry doorjamb. We took to storing food on the kitchen table or in the frig, all tightly sealed of course, but nothing worked and we could not get rid of those little bugs.

We moved.

Actually, we'd been married a few months at that point, and we bought our first house. We had a pest guy come check it out before we closed on the house, and that was helpful but he had a different idea of acceptable pest levels than I do

"You have baby brown recluse spiders living in that tree in the living room, but don't worry. There's some sort of bigger spider in there too that's eating them before they grow up."

Naturally, I had him treat the tree - which had come with the house and now I knew why - then made Paul chop it up and remove it to the curb, along with the drapes. We repainted and had the carpet steam cleaned. And now we have a fabulous pest guy - with whom I'm on a first name basis - come by regularly to make sure that we continue to have no problems.

And we haven't moved for 7 years.


Lynnie said...

Oh. My. God. You just caused several years of apartment-living to come flashing back at me! We had that exact same potato thing happen! I think I threw up. Then there was the time we had a squirrel in the pantry; another time a raccoon on the kitchen table; another time an opossum in the kitchen. Well, I should be glad now it's just flies.

Krupskaya said...

Good God, why did I read this before breakfast?

Rob Monroe said...

Brown Recluse spiders are no joke. My brother got.....nevermind. The spiders are gone and I don't ever need to share that particular spider story with you.

Kristi said...

Before breakfast, krupskaya? I was eating mine thankyouverymuch. Our first two apartments got the occaisional roach also (the big ones). At the time, we also had a cat, who generally took care of the problem for us (gross, but no worse than a country cat eating field mice, I suppose).

Glad you got rid of the spider tree--one of my coworkers was bit by a brown recluse and missed work for several weeks while her leg healed. Not fun!

liss n kids said...

Wait. There was a tree, with several species of spiders living in it, in your living room?

If I ever saw a roach somewhere that I lived, I think I'd have to burn the place down with everything I own in it. Seriously. Nothing on this earth freaks me out more than roaches.

Sarahlynn said...

Lynnie, Ack! wild animals in your home?!!

Sorry, Krupskaya and Kristi!

Rob, thank you for your restraint! I've heard some pretty bad stories myself. Shudder. I should warn, you, however, that we do have brown recluse spiders in this part of the country. Full disclosure and all that.

Liss, the really weird part was that the pest guy didn't seem to think it was unusual. Or any big deal.

And, yeah on the roaches. Shudder. I admit it: I'm soft and I'll never be on Survivor or Fear Factor!