A Dollar a Day Keeps the Pests Away

My knight in shining armor (known to some of you as the better half) will climb the loftiest mountains, fight the vilest creatures and brave the meanest storms without flinching or wincing. But put a tiny little fire ant on his arm and watch him cringe and whimper, as he breaks into hives, turns a fiery shade of red and helplessly itches all over. Even his throat and tongue swell until he can hardly speak! Add breathlessness to that and you have me panicking and driving like a maniac to rush him to the nearest emergency room!

So, when we bought the house with a small sized yard that the better half had to maintain, I knew we needed to give some serious thought to pest control. Especially in our part of the country where the fire ants owned the land long before humans did! Living in an apartment until then, my only encounter with the terms pest control were on the notices that the apartment people left to inform me that the apartment was treated while I was away. Aaaahhhh, the bliss of non-homeownership! Now with lawn mowing, driveway cleaning, remembering garbage days, programming sprinklers and changing air filters, we also had to take care of pest control!

Frugal souls that we are, our first approach was to DIY. Yep, we marched into home depot, the two weekend warriors, picked up some fierce looking red ant spray and scattered it all over the yard. We watched carefully for the next few days to see if we would see any of the tiny terrors. And for a few weeks there were none. Just when we were about to break out the bottle of champagne, they started making a comeback. One or two at a time, at first. And then with friends and relatives. And if you have watched the discovery or national geographic channels, you know, ants have large families!

Our next resort was to call the friendly neighborhood pest control man. Actually, I called several of them comparing and calculating. Finally, I chose one who offered cheapest-by-comparison-but-expensive-nevertheless service and had the whole house treated, inside and out. The next few months were just great! I put a reminder on my calendar to call the guy again next year. What my friendly little pest control man didn’t tell me though, was that where I live (and probably the rest of United States as well), stores are not allowed to sell chemicals that stay potent for more than 3 months. So even the best chemicals (assuming he used the "best" chemicals) would be effective for only 3 months. Agreed we need to save the environment, but geez, what do you take us home owners for? But like I said, our pest control guy forgot to mention this to us while he was here, and we simply shredded the quarterly reminders he sent us assuming they were an effort to sucker us into shelling out some more of our hard earned shillings. Ha Ha, you ain't gonna get us this time, pest man!

The winter wasn’t that bad actually. But come summer, we were hit by the attack of red ants like never before! Our yard was literally teeming with life. Creeping and crawling. Making intricate patterns across our drive way. Spilling out of the yard and threatening to take over our house. Fortunately, we noticed the problem before they found their way in. The thought of those critters crawling all over my house, still sends cold shivers down my spine. This time, I called a reputable pest control company, found out all the info I could and signed up for an annual contract with pre-scheduled quarterly treatments. The tab? $368 (–10% discount for signing up the annual contract). Or in other words approximately a dollar a day! Just to keep the pests away!

Sigh! It’s days like these that I tend to agree with Jim’s devils advocate post - Rent Forever, Don’t Buy A Home!

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Golbguru said...

Wanted to read this one completely and the last one about the million dollar page...but clicking on the "more" button is returning a 404 error. Probably it's Blogger going crazy, but just look into it.

I understand about the fire ants...but I bet your knight in shining armor comes to your rescue when you see a cockroach, doesn't he? :)

ispf said...

Golb: You pretty much summed it up :) Here's how the cockraoach episode usually goes in our house...

Cockraoch? Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeks. *Shiver*. Jump up the couch. Start running around the living room like a chicken with it's head cut off.

The knight in shining armor walks in. Chooses his preferred weapen carefully. Its the trusty bathroom slippers. He looks at the infiltrator. Measures its every move. Whap. (I go, "Yikes, careful about the carpet!"). Grabs the source of terror by its whiskers and throws it out the window. Shines his pearly whites and says "There you go, hon" while muttering under his breath "Silly Woman!" Back to watching TV.

(Somethimes, we have an alternate ending to the episode: "He grabs it by the whisker and chases me around the house until I agree to do one of his designated chores!". You can guess which ending I like better! Thank god after moving into this house we havent had any cockroach episodes :) )