Friday, January 4, 2013

Unpleasant Animal Kingdom

Since moving to Botswana, I’ve had almost daily encounters with various forms of bug life inside our house! While our house is lovely – very spacious and comfortable and I even like our assigned furniture – it’s an older home and in my opinion the construction standards did not incorporate enough bug-proofing elements. For example, there is a one inch gap between the outer doors and the ground which allows plenty of room for creepy crawly beings to make their way into the interior of our home. A significant portion of the caulking on our walls, floors, and kitchen/bathroom fixtures is gone, and those not-too-large bugs with flexible exoskeletons can easily squeeze through the gaps (remind me to get some caulking stuff soon to fix it!). And the bathroom and kitchen drains are all open with no covers, and I suspect are connected directly to the outside by open pipes...  perfect for bugs with the urge to explore the human world.

BUG INVASION!  Cockroaches, rain flies, black flies, ants, and millipedes are common guests in our home. The different kinds of bugs (other than cockroaches, who so far have just made a few random but disgusting appearances, thanks goodness) normally come to us in swarms, all at once.

RAIN FLIES: A couple of hours after it rains, we normally have at least 20 or so rain flies who make their way inside and hover around our lamps and overhead lights. Rain flies look just like termites – in fact, when we first saw them we thought we had a termite infestation. Once came home from a weekend away to find a huge pile of at least 100 rain fly wings just outside our front door. I guess they died trying to get into our house. The lamps that we have by our windows are particularly popular spots for them to gather; locals tell me that when it rains, they turn off all their lights to stop the rain flies from coming into their houses, which are even less protected against bugs than ours are!

ANTS: Now that it’s the summer, we are entering Ant Season. The bathrooms, with all their piping and open drains and bad caulking, are very attractive to the ants of Botswana. Every once in a while we spray ant killer to reinforce our vulnerable borders, and a few hours later there will be little piles of ant corpses scattered around the bathroom floor. Gotcha!

BLACK FLIES: Apparently the Botswana summer time is also Fly Season. But the last couple of weeks large, black flies have been popping up out of nowhere, mostly in the kitchen! They are very fat and sluggish and so are easy to hit with a handy kitchen towel. There have been so many of them lately– we’ve killed at least 10 a day for the last week-  that we actually have a dedicated fly towel we carry around with us in case we need to whack some intruders.

MILLIPEDES: And there are lots of thick, black millipedes that range from about two to six inches long! You can see them crawling all over the roads in town and they like to come in under the front door; once, I saw one crawl under the door into our front hallway, take a look around, and then crawl back out… guess he had the wrong house.  As disgusting as these sound, I have actually grown used to them and don’t mind them as much as say a cockroach…  but my worst fear is that I will step on one – how disgusting would that be? This fear is not unfounded and stems from a very traumatic bathroom experience one morning.  I sleepily stumbled into the bathroom to wash my face and then put in my contacts, which I am almost blind without. After I put in my contacts, I looked down at the floor and saw that there was a millipede there just a couple of inches away from my bare foot! I still shudder thinking about what would have happened had I moved my foot over and stepped down.

COCKROACHES: So far I’ve only seen a couple of cockroaches in our house and let’s hope things stay that way, because these are the bugs that gross me out the most. I screamed and ran when I spotted a cockroach in the kitchen a couple of months ago on the day the movers came to bring us our shipments. The movers thought that was hilarious, and simply reached down, grabbed the cockroach by one of its wings, and put it gently outside. YUK!! And, yesterday there was a giant four-incher in the hallway yesterday headed toward our bedroom… luckily Scott sprayed him with insect killer before he got any further.

*I realize this post would be more illustrative if I had pictures of the bugs to insert, but I was too busy running away from them to take photos!*

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