Monday, May 4, 2009

Pests of all kinds

Spring comes. All of us peek out the windows precariously wondering if the last freeze has really passed. Slowly, but ever so surely, we gain boldness and go out into the foliage, surmising the situation in the garden and lawn. As courage fills our veins, we begin tilling the soil and eagerly awaiting warmer day after warmer day.

And then it comes. The day when you realize that you are not the only kind of creature that comes out with the thaw. As a new home owner for the first time in Ann Arbor, I'm discovering what critters are abounding in my lawn. I thought clearing the snow from the long driveway was a chore -- ha! What I didn't even know...

We've got the signs of a mole in our lawn. We're not sure if he's still in the area. We just know that all the signs are there. Tunnels close to the surface of the lawn, criss-crossing all about and piles of soil that look like small volcano cones. When my husband and I went to Home Depot to ask about this yesterday, every one of the employees who gave us advice started with some horror story about how destructive moles are and how hard they are to get rid of. Great. By the time we left, we had learned it would take about $100 worth of grub killer for the entire lawn and another $20 in various poisons to start dealing with the problem. All that in the hopes that he would die deep, deep under our lawn, along with his offspring and kin and we wouldn't have to resort to more medieval methods of eliminating him.

Then I find out that other rodents can use the tunnels. Things like gophers and voles and rats. Lovely. We live next to protected woodlands. Just a couple weeks ago I watched a large cat (or a domestic cat-bobcat crossbreed?) stalk, catch, and kill some fairly large furry rodent in my back porch flower beds. This wasn't a mouse or a hamster; this was grown squirrel sized, but something other than a squirrel. I'm thinking that there's a good chance that something's using those tunnels even if the mole is gone.

As if this weren't enough to deal with, I discovered something worse. Something that made me realize, those rodents may come in the house. (Not the mole, of course, because he's not a rodent, but other rodents may come in.) My 15-year-old daughter is attracting pests to her bedroom. Not intentionally, of course. But she's doing it, nonetheless. She's got this habit of wanting to eat in her room, and it's usually something containing sugar. through the years we've gone through various stages of curbing this behavior: we went from finding open candy and food in her bed and closet and waste finding piles of candy wrappers in the closet and under the finding piles of candy wrappers under her pillow once her bed is finding piles of candy wrappers in her waste bin. But on Saturday afternoon, after she had left the house for an overnight visit with her father, my husband and I found her lunch bag from Friday under her bed and about 10 billion zillion ants pigging out on her untouched peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I had lovingly made the morning before. I think these ants had abandoned their normal behavior of carrying food back to the colony and just decided to go crazy gorging themselves. Some of them were already passed out from overeating.

How shall we deal with the situation? What would YOU do? I grew up in Florida, so I learned my lesson very early on in life that you shouldn't never, ever, ever leave food (or crumbs, or wrappers, or any possible hint that something containing carbohydrates) in your bedroom. If you did, get ready to have an army or ants march across your face when you're asleep in your bed at night. Or a couple of 3" roaches. But my daughter has had the luxury of not dealing directly with consequences like these since we live in a place where the pests are scarce for most of the year. Until now.

Do you think showing her the mole tunnels might scare her? How about when she sees the first real live her bedroom?

1 comment:

Heather said...

We have had moles off and on over the years. My husband has watched different TV shows that have all kinds of advice on how to get rid of them ... some making a concoction with flat beer and urine and some other things. Ewww. I'm guessing they will steer clear of our yard this summer since we'll have construction going on.

I certainly hope they don't end up in your house! Yuck! Make sure you have all points of entry sealed up!