Should I Get Pest Control?

(or: Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!)

As I am now – about two weeks into our new life here – on my third bottle of Doom (or rather Mortein Target, which even though it came recommended I find less powerful than Doom, in that it only kills but does not seem to create a barrier for future invasions), researching pest control options was on my list today. These are the pests I was told to watch out for:

  • Ants. No kidding! The word is they are much worse this year than normally, just as the rain this year is unprecedented. Probably one causing the other. It could be worse. Other people have reported frog invasions in their houses. I’d rather take the ants, thank you very much. But they ARE everywhere. You do sort of become more tolerant of them over time, so for instance when you see a few crawling on your bed, you pretty much ignore them, as you are only focusing on entire road systems.
  • Fleas. Yes, sadly, there seem to be fleas, weather you have a dog or not. That explains why we still get bitten, even though we’ve taken precautions against mosquitoes.
  • Bedbugs. This is where I’m starting to be pissed off. Who wants to know that they have bedbugs? Little red flat things that live in your carpet and mattress and bite you at night, preferably on your upper body (as opposed to fleas that get your legs), leaving a tiny bite with a white-ish center. That would account for some other unexplained bites that have bothered us. I blame the rental furniture, but who knows how clean the previous tenants were.
  • Cockroaches. Haven’t seen any of them yet, will worry about those when I do.
  • Crickets in your lawn that destroy the grass roots. Those are not crickets as you might imagine them, they are veritable giant shrimps! We found one in our pool the first day. Apparently that is why we have so many Kevin-birds digging in our lawn. They are after those crickets.
  • Rats. Haven’t seen one of those either and am not eager to. Apparently, that is the one and only pest our neighbor has pest control for. Let’s hope their bait traps are covering our property too!

So let’s talk about Pest Control services. A no-brainer, you might think. But they charge you through the nose. Maybe it’s because the locals are quite used to these bugs and don’t bother with pest control, leaving the expat community to pay? Whatever the reason, an annual service with quarterly visits will cost you around R5000. Per pest. That’s almost $700 to spray, say, for ants. Any additional pest will cost you extra, another R1000 per pest. If you want to go all-out, you can add a couple of mosquito diffusers for R200/month each. So if I want to wage simultaneous war on ants, fleas, cockroaches, bedbugs, rats, and mosquitoes (and live in a mist of noxious fumes?), I’m looking at almost R14000 per year. That’s over $1800.

Or… I could come up with my own plan, Alternate Pest Control 101:

  1. Go to the hardware store (a place that has long been on my list but keeps being pushed back because I STILL HAVE NO CAR) and buy some ant bait (I remember a kind of chalk from Singapore, which you use to draw lines where you don’t want the ants to cross), a healthy supply of more Doom, a few more of those mosquito oil thingies you plug into your outlets (the one we got for Jabulani to prevent more swollen-ear cases seems to be working fairly well), and maybe one of those mosquito-zapping lights for the porch.
  2. Get a cat. That would serve the dual purpose of making the kids happy, who had to leave behind Oreo the bunny and have long had a cat on their wish list. Saving big bucks on pest control might even make the case to my dear husband, although our record with cats is very mixed, and the last one we owned, Kika, was so scared of everything she habitually ran up tall trees from which I had to rescue her with elaborate techniques. Not sure who would be chasing whom in the case of big ole rats.
  3. Maybe have a one-time fumigation done to the house if bedbugs and fleas continue to be a problem after we get rid of the rental furniture.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens. By the way, one pest I didn’t mention above is snakes, only because the service guy didn’t mention them to me. But Noisette told me that they have a construction site at work, and one day last week when they were digging up the road, they found themselves staring at a black mamba.

The next day, none of those workers came back.

[Note: I ended up going with Rentokil pest control, and was very satisfied with their service. It’s not cheap, but it was worth the money not ever having to worry about ants. They came every three months to spray or spread granules, both in house and yard, and if there was a problem in between they came whenever you called. You don’t have to really pay for any other pest than ants, in my opinion. If whatever they spray kills ants, it might also get some other crawling insects as a bonus.]

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