Bugs Bug Me

No, not computer bugs. Okay, those bug me too, especially the ones I wrote myself and have to fix. (But at least they pay me for that.) No, I mean actual insects, which were the sources of some annoyance over the weekend.

First of all, we got the results of the termite inspection for our complex, and the inspector says he found signs of infestation in my unit, and recommends we tent and fumigate the building. This is weird because I was home when he came by, and he didn’t say anything to me about it. I’d have expected that he’d at least have called me over to see what he found and be able to recognize the infestation from first-hand experience. He apparently noted some issues with other buildings, too. However, in one case we think it was an infestation which was killed off years ago, but the damage (which was cosmetic) was never patched up. So now we’re not sure whether we’ve got an active infestation or not. So we’ll likely ask for clarification and/or get a second opinion.

Getting our place tented would be a big pain in the ass, mainly because of the cats, since we’d have to figure out where to put them while it’s going on, and how much cleaning up we’d have to do afterwards. The problem with cats is that you can’t really give them to your friends who already have cats, since cats and other cats often don’t mix. And friends without cats often don’t have cats for a good reason. So we might have to board them, which we’d like to avoid.

Still, termites are rampant in the valley, and as annoying as this would be, I’m sure there will be several house-tentings in my future while I live here. So I shouldn’t kvetch too much.

The other bugs vexing me this week is a colony of wasps which has taken up residence inside my redwood bench which also houses my vegetable planter. I see them crawling in and out through a single spot in the planter. Yesterday, one of them landed on my shoulder, rode me into the house, and stung me through my shirt. Ouchie! I killed it, and fortunately it didn’t leave its stinger in my arm, but it hurt like heck for an hour or so. Today I can barely tell I got stung, which I guess means I’m not allergic to wasp stings – good to know.

Anyway, the wasps are getting pretty annoying, so I want to find a way to take care of them – preferably without tearing the bench apart. So I’ll go to OSH after work and see what I can find.

These wasps have been lurking around the area for a couple of years, and their nests seem to move each year. I guess they die off over the winter and then come back and reestablish themselves. I don’t intrinsically object to their presence, since they do some useful things, but I don’t really want them taking up residence where they see me as a threat which needs to get stung. So I’ll see if I can encourage them to take up residence elsewhere.

Sigh. It’s always something.

4 thoughts on “Bugs Bug Me”

  1. For what it’s worth – most Termite fumigations these days use Vikane, which is residue-free, so “clean up” isn’t much of an issue – once the building’s been aired out, it’s safe to go back in. You do have to bag any open food containers, and find a place for you, the pets, and your houseplants to stay during the process.

    As for the wasps, I’ve had good results with the wasp-killer spray they sell at the hardware store. It’s supremely toxic, though, so you’ll want to make sure the cats are inside and the windows are closed before you spray. Just soak the entrance, and they’re die on the way in/out. Once the activity dies down, squirt a little expanding foam sealant in there, and it’ll keep them from coming back.

  2. Most wasps don’t actually have a stinger. They bite, instead. Some have a stinger and will still bite, too.

    Some biters have a bit of poison on their biting bits (fangs? No. Mandibles? Maybe).

  3. Hmm, this one appeared to have a stinger, as it was sticking partway out after I stepped on it. And from the mark on my skin it looked like I’d been stung. Not conclusive evidence, I guess. Certainly the wasp that stung me resembled a yellowjacket.

    I picked up some wasp-killing spray and sprayed the hole tonight. We’ll see if it helps. Otherwise, back to the drawing board!

  4. If you do get your place tented, the good news is that Vikane is wood-permeable, so it will kill things living inside the walls (or in your books) and then vanish.

    The bad news is that you do have to remove/discard anything that will be consumed or used on your person e.g. shampoo, etc. since some things will permit the gas to enter but not leave in a timely fashion – wine corks, for example. Finding a place for our food and stuff was our biggest hassle.

    Oh, and Vikane plus natural gas form a metal-eating corrosive mixture, so your gas will have to be turned off before they tent and then turned on afterwards. PG&E was good about that, though, and we didn’t have to wait too long for them to come by.

    If you do have termites, you could ask the company to dissect them to discover if they’re subterranean or not. If they live underground, tenting won’t help; you have to get the injectable slow-ooze poison, which means drilling holes in the foundation/earth and injecting the stuff, then recapping the holes. (We had both kinds, and our second infestation was probably underground, hence didn’t get completely wiped out. The company did the injectable stuff at no charge since the tenting was ineffective.)

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