Garden fresh deliciousness to us, totally disgusting to spiders
The last few weeks, I’ve read about some OSers in difficult critter infestation situations.
The solution always seems to be removing the offending animals/insects by killing them.
Many people have grown up believing that if an unwanted organism is in your home, you have a right to destroy it. Many people also believe that vermin and insects have no souls, intelligence, or even the ability to feel pain.
Though I may never be able to convince you to change your mind regarding souls and intelligence, science has proven you wrong about not feeling pain. A few months ago, OSer Snoreville Redencocker (at least that’s what he’s calling himself today; he changes names more frequently than Diddy) blogged an astute post about research that proves even the tiniest ant has pain receptors in its body.
I know what it’s like to live in a place with unwanted visitors. In Georgia, we had silver fish everywhere, no matter how clean we kept our home. And here in my apartment in Paris, sad to say it’s spiders. I have extreme arachnophobia, so this the worst kind of pest for me to have to deal with, to put it mildly.
Yet I find it’s hard to kill a spider. Not just because I’m afraid it will jump on me and attack me, but also because when I think about it, much as I don’t like them, it’s not spiders’ fault that I find them so terrifying, nor that they’re in my home, which is warm in winter and was built on land that once belonged exclusively to flora and fauna.
If you think some or all of the things I’ve written here mark me out as some kind of crazy animal rights activist, I can honestly say you’re wrong. I’m not even a vegetarian. Growing up with a mom who was a very skilled vet tech, my siblings and I often got to visit operating and consulting rooms full of animals, including exotics. I’ve observed surgery on cats and dogs, have witnessed the results of animal cruelty, and have even seen a pet hedgehog put to sleep. One thing that always struck me is, no matter how unfriendly or strange the animal, there was always that undeniable glimmer of life in its eyes. I may not be able to see the world as a bug or a mouse or a hedgehog or even my cat sees it, but I know we’re all living and trying to have a good existence and save ourselves from trouble.
When an unwanted animal or insect comes into your house, it’s an annoying and even frightening discovery, and you worry that this visitor will bring more of its kind – and sometimes it will.
At this point, you have three solutions.
The first is just to put up with the intrusion or even infestation and try your best to go on with your life. Not an option for most of us, which is understandable.
The second solution is to call your local exterminator or animal control officer and have the animal(s) or insect(s) removed from your house, regardless of the method used. Or to get rid of the offending animal(s)/insect(s) yourself, with products like bug spray, mousetraps, and poisons.
It’s easy to savor the convenience of someone getting rid of your wild intruders, or to put down traps on our own and try not to think of what happens to the roaches when they go into that little motel, or to the mouse when it nibbles those pretty-colored pellets. In reality, these living beings will die – not quick, merciful deaths, but agonizing ones involving torment and internal bleeding.
Okay, so maybe you don’t care that these animals suffer. But some traps, be they old-fashioned mouse traps, or poisons and insecticides, can also harm small children and pets. Chemicals could get into your food or drinking water. Suddenly, it’s you and your loved ones that you’re exterminating.
So, you might be thinking, then how am I going to get these critters out of my house with minimal cost and bother?
Luckily, as society is going greener, so are animal/insect removal methods. Here are a few I know about and am a fan of, with links:
1. A bug vacuum. Here’s one similar to mine.
But please be careful if you want to buy one of these; some bug vacuums are made to just catch hard-to-reach bugs, with no concern for their welfare.Always make sure the product is made for observation and release of bugs, and that it says “harmless” at least once in the product description
2. If you like cats, get one. The very scent and presence of a cat is a powerful deterrent to rodents. Before my boyfriend got our cat Ali, there were mice in his apartment. Once Ali had established himself (and caught a few mice, which my boyfriend was able to rescue and carry outside, far from our building), the mice vanished. Ali has been in this apartment for about 5 years. We’ve been mouse-free for about four and a half. The bonus with this method of natural pest control is that you can also save the life of a cat or cats who might have been abused or abandoned. It’s always best to adopt a cat from a shelter, rather than a pet shop, which may obtain its animals from unscrupulous breeders.
Pictured: Effective (and adorable!) natural pest control.
3. There are many natural remedies said to repel pests. I’ve experimented with tomato leaves as a spider repellent, and it’s true that in the areas where I’ve put the leaves, I haven’t seen any spiders. Unfortunately, I can’t cover my entire apartment in tomato leaves, but I can put them up high in certain corners. WARNING: Please remember that tomato leaves and many other kinds of plants can be toxic to house pets. Our leaves are stuck up securely in high corners so that Ali won’t get them. Here’s one site that has a long list of natural pest repellents, as well as an organic pest repellent product line.
4. In some cases, if you have to call animal control or an exterminator, they may have humane, catch-and-release traps available. My mother insisted on this recently when there was a squirrel in her house. Even in extremely rural Georgia, the exterminator had catch-and-release traps.
In an ideal world, we’d get along and live in harmony with all living things. Unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal world. Still, with a little effort – and usually very little difference in price – you can give an innocent animal or insect a chance at life – while being sure it stays the hell off your property!
You can have my bug gun when you pry it from my cold, dead - oh heck, if I could, I'd buy one for everybody.