Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Old Wives Tale: Eating Spiders Revisited

I have a friend at work who said he's gotten bitten up by a spider recently. For some reason, I keep trying to suggest alternative sources for these bites. Could they be fleas? Dust mites? Bed bugs? Spiders, for some reason hold this mythical place for me as non-biters. Maybe it's that I grew up with cellar spiders (aka Daddy Longlegs) and they are rumored to have mouths too small to bite humans.

How would I know if he had some sort of biting spider living at his house? Why couldn't a spider bite him?

I've had quite a complicated relationship with spiders, especially in the last few years. I fear them and respect them. If they come into my house, they are no longer sacred and I will kill them. If they are outside, I will not. If they scare the bejeezus out of me, any spider within a room's range will be sucked up, too. If they are found to be eating other insect pests, they will get an automatic stay of execution. At least a temporary one.

If there is a mosquito within a hundred miles, it will find its way to me and give me a bite. It has never occurred to me that some of my night-time mosquito bites may have actually been spiders. I've never thought of them as being guilty of biting humans. My fear of them has always seemed irrational, though clearly physiological. I never thought my fear was of being bitten, just fear for fear's sake.

It reminds me again of that Old Wives Tale about how many spiders you eat in your sleep. I heard someone retell it recently and I wanted to argue at its unlikely truth. This biting thing has me wondering though. Is my arachnophobia missing a few layers? Does getting bitten in my sleep and eating them belong beside just their multiple creepy legs and scary persona?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's Gone!

The rat is gone. I saw it go, too. Flying.

Yesterday my folks came up for a neighborhood garage sale that was supposed to be epic. I'm sure it was for someone, but not for us. We barely had any traffic and only sold enough to clear the parking deck of the big clutter. After that, we loaded the remainder into my parents' car to go to the donation center. 

I couldn't pass up an opportunity to get some handyman help from my step-dad. He's marvelously helpful with things that I just can't do myself. As you may have noticed, I have not been able to deal with the rat by myself. 

We started by moving the refrigerator out of the nook. As crazy as it sounds to me now, he got me to position myself in the front of the fridge with my leaf blower, while he positioned himself behind it with the vacuum. When I turned that thing on, the room filled with dust. It was insane. (I ended up cleaning my entire kitchen top to bottom as a result of those shenanigans. What were we thinking?)

I don't know if it was the massive amount of noise that we made or if the sucking or blowing disturbed the rat, but we saw the critter. From where I was, I could see its tail sticking out from under the refrigerator. My step-dad tried to suck at it with the vacuum, but it wasn't working. Finally, he reached his hand in there and grabbed it. 

The rat bit at him, though it didn't break the skin. Once in hand we were left with what to do with it. I don't know if I would have done something different if it were in my hand, but my step-dad proceeded to fling it over my balcony. I have no idea whether it could survive something like that. From the place the rat was launched, it's about four stories high. If it survived, it cannot get back into my house because I've sealed it up. If if did not, I'm sure he fed a hungry (larger) critter. Either way, I was immediately sickened by the whole thing. And yet...I felt so much relief that the rodent was no longer living in my house that I nearly cried. I got choked up and gave him the biggest hug ever. 

I'm so very happy right now about this. It was no small feat and my gratitude is enormous.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

It's Alive!

After calling the second exterminator, the only pest activity in my house has been seven-billion ants. Even my husband got involved and bought some ant traps because they've been that bad. Before I get ahead of myself, I will tell you about the second exterminator.

The second company was a recommendation of a guy who came highly recommended. This time, two guys show up and do a thorough inspection of my house. I watched the whole thing, very curious about the problem and wanting to learn as much as I can. The two of them crawled in places I would never go and definitely looked around.

What they determined is that I don't have an infestation. All of the evidence they found was of previous inhabitants and that there were no current rats in my house. There was no logical explanation of what I was seeing in the way of the eaten avocado without any droppings. They were perplexed and didn't even try to sell me their services because they didn't think they would be successful in helping me any more than the previous company.

In the course of the inspection, they pulled out my refrigerator, behind which we found a bunch of droppings. Rather than put it away, I asked them to leave it out and that small service was worth the $50 they charged to come out. I cleaned behind it, on top of it and around it. That thing sparkled.

While it was out, I noticed a little something on the back side:

It was a ribbon coming out of the back of my fridge. I tugged it. And tugged it. And that damned thing didn't budge. I finally got out the screw driver and took part of the back of my fridge off to find this:

Look at how long that thing is! Some rat had made a nest in my fridge motor with that thing! Even still, I saw nothing.

Fast forward to tonight. It's late. I stayed up to watch the end of the Manchurian Candidate when it occurred to me that the critter might be out and about at this time of night. I snuck back into the kitchen and flipped on the light to find a giant rat on my kitchen counter. I just cleaned it!

I started to get freaked out, having finally confirmed my worst suspicion that a rat was living again/still in my kitchen and stunned at the thought of now what? The rat surely had the same idea and I don't know if it was more afraid of me than I of it. I screamed, just like in the movies, and it ran behind my refrigerator.

Now what?