Friday, September 19, 2008

The Bugs in the Dark (with picture to follow)

As a new homeowner and the man of the house it is my duty to fight the bug invasions. There have been occasional spiders and lately the tiniest and blackest of ants. But way beyond either of those two critters on the scale of general creepiness are the low slung and quick footed house centipedes. For the sake of the squeamish I will not post a picture. Suffice it to say that they are disturbing beyond mortal ken and with their multiple and multi-use legs they are the small things of big nightmares.

My old apartment suffered from them and I dealt with them by spraying poisons into the gaps and cracks and sealing off any entrance points I could find. Since my new home was a gut job I asked my contractor to make sure all such centipede ingress points were sealed before the walls were put up. He assured me they would be.

Little did we know that that was not the whole case. Where baseboard heaters were installed there were large gaps in the walls. Where pipes came through the floors there were large gaps. Within the first week in the house my wife and I began seeing the evil little beasts.

So I broke out the poison again. Despite my insane fear of all heights I climbed a ladder to spray around the dryer vent on the second floor. Soon we were unscrewing the heaters from the baseboard and spraying sealant into the cracks. And it was not enough. They still appeared on a semi-regular basis.

They seem to gravitate to the high walls and ceilings. With their evil little multi-faceted eyes they can see you coming from across the room armed with bug squashing tissue in hand and then, running at speeds of up to ten miles and hour, they high tail it towards their sanctuaries behind furniture and large appliances. They are swift and clever and we weren't sufficiently killing or driving them out.

This lost battle was followed by several days of regrouping and research. I learned more things than I wish to recall about our little monstrous intruders (for the nightmares they already generated were amplified). More importantly, I learned how to kill them. With impunity and ferocity.

Dressed in paper suit and armed with many cans of sealant and boric acid I ventured into our "basement". Once past the first six feet and the knee wall there's the crawlspace. it is littered with the debris of present and past construction, bits of coal and all sorts of reminders of past inhabitants of the house. Stringing up lights along the way, I climbed the wall and crouched and crawled my way into the dark and filth.

On my back and with arms upraised I set about sealing any holes I encountered. Around every pipe and drain and in the black spaces where the floor failed to meet the foundation I sprayed ounces and ounces of Great Stuff's "Big Gap Filler". Sometimes I had to battle great cascading sheets of debris and carcass filled spiderwebs or broken bottles hidden in the earth under my knees. My house is only 20' by 30' and it took me an hour and a half to make my way around the perimeter (and truth be told I rand out of Big Gap Filler before I quite finished). Then I made my way back around and laced the earth and debris with boric acid (a nasty little substance that damages their exoskeleton and causes them to dehydrate and DIE). Later I'm coming back with diatomaceous earth and spreading that around like Agent Orange on a Vietnamese jungle.

I don't know if I'll prevail. I'm only human and the centipedes are some sort of Perdition raised monstrosity. But I'm only human so I won't give up, ever.

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