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next week's column: To Rodent, With Bug

Honestly, I have no idea where the James Bond thematic thing came from. It just -- crawled into my head.


Why is it that mice and rats are ugly little disease carrying vermin that deserve to die horribly, while chipmunks and squirrels are cute?

They’re all rodents.

I’ve been killing mice with great abandon, as I do every fall. Frankly, I don’t care if they carry disease or not: I just don’t want my headstone to read, “A mouse chewed his wires” – or, “Hungry Mouse Burns House”.

Not that the disease thing would be any better. Look at me, first guy in America to die of the Black Plague this century!

So far this year’s confirmed count is five mice dead. I say confirmed because several times I’ve discovered my traps clean of bait, and that much peanut butter just can’t be good for their little hearts. Oh, and there was the time I found the trap behind the stove dragged all the way to the hole by the cupboard, a distance of about three feet. After it had been sprung.

That’s one tough mouse that I don’t want to meet. It’s probably sitting behind a wall, holding a cat hostage.

Which begs the question: Which of us is the heroic James Bond type, just trying to keep his homeland safe, and which of us is Dr. No? Maybe (you Bond fans will get this), that superstrength mouse is actually holding the cat in its lap! Imagine how scared the cat must be. And there I am, fighting off its minions while it (the mouse, not the cat) cackles and lays elaborate plans.

“Do you expect me to give up, Dr. Mouse?”

“No, Mr. Hunter – I expect you to die!” (Actually I think that was Goldfinger, but never mind. Besides, this whole routine has been done with Pinky and The Brain.)

The real mystery came the other day when I went into the basement to do laundry. Don’t judge me for this, but I have a habit of throwing my dirty clothes down the basement stairs, where they wait on the concrete floor until laundry day. This is harmless in theory, but it’s a gang initiation for those big hairy field spiders to crouch under my shirts until I pick them up, then scream “Boo!” and scurry between my feet. For years I’ve reflexively stomped them, until one day I went down there barefoot and – well, it was painful, and not pretty.

This time I lifted up a shirt, and there was a dead mouse. Just laying there.

I don’t have a clue.

The only thing I can figure is that it was scurrying around down there, trying to negotiate a truce between Dr. NoMouse and GoldSpider. The door opened and, before it could react, the mouse equivalent of a ton of clothes dropped on its head.

(Cue James Bond theme.) My jeans live to serve, Your Majesty.

Recently I took the battle outside. We had unusually warm weather, and I like mowing the lawn this time of year because it means the grass hasn’t been covered by That White Substance Which Shall Not Be Named. What I don’t like is picking up sticks prior to mowing (my trees shed branches like Rush Limbaugh sheds cigar ashes), only to find myself overcome by a vicious swarm of man eating ladybugs.

Okay, maybe they were actually Japanese beetles, and they weren’t really man eating – not even the one who stayed in my hair and walked onto my neck hours later, making me scream like a girl and run into a door. Just the same, there was a swarm of them, and that swarm was trying to work its way into my house. Possibly they were led by James Bond’s other nemesis, BloFlyFeld.

Ouch. Sorry.

I think I actually saw one of the bug leaders, when I remembered the garden hose needed to be taken in for the winter. There, perched on top of the coiled hose, was a huge black bug.

“Hello,” it said, “I’m Plenty.”

“I’m sure you are,” I replied.

“Plenty O’Bug.”

“Well, you’re certainly bugging me.”

Look, just go back and watch the old Sean Connery Bond films, okay? It’ll be funny then.

So, naturally, I left the hose alone. I mean, she was a lady, after all – and she had one heck of a set of pincers. I think she was eating a mouse.

By now all I wanted to do was finish the job and enclose myself in a giant plastic bubble, so I went to the garage to get the lawn mower. I opened the door and a giant rat ran over my feet.

007 would have handled it very coolly. I am not 007. However, I developed that day a very James Bondian ability to do a standing jump onto my car roof.

Then I realized it wasn’t a rat. A chipmunk saunter around in the garage, casually looking over its shoulder to make sure Dr. NoMouse wasn’t nearby, and my attitude instantly changed.

Awwww … what a cute little chipmunk! I couldn’t possibly kill that poor little thing. Clearly I’d have to gently shoo it out of the garage, which was strewn with so much junk that an army of chipmunks could have been in there, preparing to invade Dr. Mouse’s stronghold in a final battle that would be sure to level my house to the ground – which was starting to sound like a good idea.

So I spent the next hour working my way around, trying to shoo the chipmunk out the door. I’m sure three or four other chipmunks, a family of mice, and a few hundred ladybugs entered during this process, but the original chipmunk (which my girlfriend has informed me I can NOT name Alvin), didn’t go anywhere at all.

Cute little thing. She wanted me to capture it for a pet … while I continued to massacre its mouse cousins.

It’s a rodent, people.

But it’s a rodent that’s going nowhere. I brought it a bottle of vitamin water, some little plastic swords from Halloween, and a watch that converts into a laser beam. The battle should break out any time now, and I can only hope this minion is backing the right side.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 22nd, 2009 08:19 am (UTC)
Good luck on your battle, I'm betting on the chipmunk - and the mice.

Btw, Petzi Sis has been swatting those Asian wood bettles like mad because they're all clustering around the back door. She carries gloves just to swing at them.
Oct. 22nd, 2009 10:40 am (UTC)
I'd bet on them too, if I wasn't on the other side!

Seems like you can swat all day, but those little guys just keep coming and coming -- they want to be somewhere warm for winter, just like I do. That's also why there are so many car-deer accidents in the fall: They know winter is coming, so they commit suicide by car. ;-)
Oct. 22nd, 2009 11:02 am (UTC)
Pet mice in cages=cute. Wild mice outside=just fine with me. Any kind of mouse loose in my house - well, people who say "they're more afraid of you than you are of it" don't know what they're talking about. (I sure don't take up residence somewhere where I'm deathly afraid of the original inhabitants. Besides, I know they're laughing at me behind my back.) My best friend once had a dog that would kill mice and present them to her as gifts of honor. At least once, the dog presented a mouse by dropping it on my sleeping friend's chest....
Oct. 23rd, 2009 05:58 am (UTC)
I'm with you! I'm not afraid of mice in the house -- which is more than I can say for spiders -- but I don't like it much.

Sounds like that dog would have been perfect, if only it could be trained to drop the mice into a trash can!
Oct. 22nd, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
Good luck! The mice wouldn't bother me too much, but the spiders? *shudders*
Oct. 23rd, 2009 05:59 am (UTC)
Exactly my feeling. Mice are nuisances to be dealt with -- spiders are evil demon spawn from hell to be feared and destroyed.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 23rd, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
I'm still reeling over all the kangaroo meat treats you showed in your posts! Those guys are so cute, how could they kill them even when they are annoying?
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 23rd, 2009 10:51 am (UTC)
It certainly is subjective! Beauty of all kinds is in the eye of the beholder.
Oct. 22nd, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
What kind of traps do you use? I have one mouse who WILL NOT DIE despite eating poison. I am leery of using the glue traps because I hear the mice scream when they're caught in them and chew off their legs but it is refusing to go into my live capture traps :S
Oct. 23rd, 2009 06:07 am (UTC)
No way would I use the glue traps -- I couldn't take the thought of them being stuck in there. I use the snap traps, because they're a quick and painless death -- usually. The problem with them is that some mice have learned how to clean them off without tripping them, which I don't appreciate. The other problem is that every now and then one doesn't die right away, and it's disconcerting to see an upside down trap flopping across the kitchen floor -- and then realizing you have to do the dirty work yourself.

Previous occupants put poison up in my house, but I don't like the idea of them crawling off somewhere to die, then stinking up the place.
Oct. 23rd, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
I am using poison but it's not working so much :S I think at first it was because more mice were coming from next door. I've blocked off the hole though as best as I can so we'll see how that changes things. I may take your advice and try peanut butter in the traps though... more irresistible.
Oct. 24th, 2009 12:40 am (UTC)
Plus, the peanut butter sticks to the trap better ....

May I just say how much I heart your icon?
Oct. 25th, 2009 06:30 am (UTC)
I heart that one too :)

Oct. 26th, 2009 02:02 pm (UTC)
Best half hour comedy on TV! (Although I also really like "The Middle")
Oct. 30th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)
I have one mouse who WILL NOT DIE despite eating poison.

Maybe it's a Pentecostal mouse! Does it also play with snakes?
Oct. 30th, 2009 05:17 am (UTC)
That would explain a lot!
Oct. 22nd, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC)
youhave mystery mouse kills

I have mystery Japanese beetle kills. I came home last night to find dozens of them dead just inside my door all over the foyer and nowhere else. As if they swarmed in and it was so toxic in my apt they just keeled on the spot. frankly i'm a tad nervous now
Oct. 23rd, 2009 06:13 am (UTC)
That's happened to me with those Japanese beetles, too. Maybe I should be nervous too, considering how much poison I pump into my house to kill the spiders.
Oct. 23rd, 2009 03:26 pm (UTC)
that was my thought. Was there THAT much flea killer still in my apt
Oct. 24th, 2009 12:42 am (UTC)
Oh, I drowned my place in flea killer when those little monsters were here.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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