Saturday, June 13, 2009

Critters, Crawlies & Such ~ Caliava-CCtopaste-W.jpg

Critters, Crawlies, and Such
JM Shephard

We've all had the occasion to be startled by the sudden appearance of some critter or crawly we weren't expecting - - a bug, a snake, a mouse, etc., in our immediate environment. This intrusion can be quite unsettling - - terrifying, to be exact, and in our panic we often devise ways and methods of dealing with these creatures that are ingenious, elaborate, expedient and - - in our minds - - safe. In exploring this process, I came face to face with my own primitive responses and resolutions to the situation - - yell or gasp, attack with the closest thing at hand that I don't mind defiling, and shiver for the next hour. But, that cannot begin to top the system devised by my friend, Marita, when she was confronted with the need to dispatch a mouse that had invaded her living room.

To implement this system you need - obviously - a mouse, as well as a mouse-trap, a shovel - - preferably long-handled, a yardstick, a fly swatter, and a hero. First you must bait and set the mouse- trap. This is usually the first job of the hero, but you can do this part and still reserve their input for the crucial latter phase of this process. That accomplished, you must wait patiently (nervously) for the mouse to venture into the terrain you have strategically laid out to annihilate it. Check the traps regularly - at least every twenty minutes or so if you are home. Once you have determined that the mouse has been caught and is securely attached to the trap, you can move into the second phase of the plan.

Assemble your shovel, yardstick, and fly-swatter. Approach the trap and the mouse with tentative, but deliberate steps. (You want to be able to break and run should the thing remove itself from the trap as you approach it.) Lay the shovel in front of the contraption and with very careful sweeping motions use the yardstick to slide the mouse and the trap into the bowl of the shovel. The odds are that the mouse is still alive at this point, however, whether that is the case or not the next phase is very important to ensure that that is not the end result. Raise the fly-swatter to shoulder level and with a series of heavy rapid strokes flay at the mouse until you are quite sure that there is no longer any threat from it. Then take the whole business and set it somewhere out of your line of vision while you wait for your hero to come and dispose of it. It may be advisable to check it every so often to ascertain that it has, in fact, been dispatched and has not reincarnated itself; That done, you can then proceed with expediency and relief to whatever you were doing before the thing ventured into your path.

There are some of us who do not have the stomach for this kind of violence. Our squeamishness precludes our sense of survival to the degree that we may scramble for another way to escort this creature from our home. I have another friend who spreads a trail of crackers and cheese from where she last saw the mouse to the open door of her apartment. She then sat very still (frozen, actually) on the couch - - feet up, of course - - and waited for the mouse to make its appearance. It didn't. She still has difficulty walking through her living room. She doesn't sleep too well at night either.

Mice are not the only critters to invade our spaces. Spiders, roaches, moths, bees and centipedes track their own paths across our lives, defying us to deal with them and still remain humane. These can be impeded by using a jar, a glove, a piece of thin cardboard and an open door or window, or a grocery bag and a rock - the rock is optional. First, put on the gloves. Then you must follow the thing quickly enough to keep sight of it, but slowly enough not frighten it into increasing its' speed and fleeing from your vision. Should that happen, you have the option of watching and waiting for it to reappear, however, this is intensely nerve-wracking and time-consuming. Better to still your panic and follow the critter until it pauses or lights in its' journey. This pause must take place on a flat surface. The moment it does, quickly set the open end of the jar over it. Continue to hold the jar, allowing yourself a couple of minutes to regain your composure for the next move. Once you have stopped shaking, jiggle the jar enough to agitate the contents into moving up to the closed end.

As soon as you have an opening to do so, very carefully slide the cardboard in between the flat surface and the mouth of the jar. This must be done rapidly, but gingerly, or you will need to start the whole process all over again, that is provided you survive the escape of the thing. Once the cardboard is in place, jiggle the jar again to compel the creature back down to the closed end. (These little beasties are quite sensitive to air flow and will have rushed back to the top of the jar the moment they sensed the crack caused by the cardboard being inserted.) Once again, when it is at the closed end, you can make your move. This time, work your finger under the
cardboard just enough to bring it away from the surface while still covering the opening of the jar. Right the jar and then clamp your hand down over the top to keep the cardboard in place. You have several options at this point. You can proceed to a door or window, set the jar out, remove the cardboard, and run - - being sure to shut the door or window as you withdraw. Or, you may want to set the whole thing down into a grocery bag, set a rock on the cardboard, roll the top of the bag shut, and throw the whole thing into the garbage.

Upon hearing of my venture into writing this particular piece of commentary, my Mother related to me her own way of dealing with the critters, crawlies and such that she encounters. She shoots them with hairspray. She swears by this method. It is simple, quick, effective, and it doesn't require any special tools. However, if these methods seem too repugnant, primitive, time-consuming, or too much a threat to the ozone, I would like to offer up the method that Marita’s neighbor recounted to her upon hearing of her exploits with the mouse; He told her, “I just suck them up with the shop vac. ’Got three so far this year."

Critters, Crawlies, and Such
JM Shephard © 1992 JOY in the arts!

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