Swarm, the Quickening!

16th April 2008

When we last left Mighty Girl, she was breathing into a paper bag and assuming yoga poses while Melissa gave her instructions on killing the hungry bugs in her hair. What will happen next?

Next we spent hours and hours and hours and hours washing with chemicals, combing with olive oil, blow drying with Cetaphil, rinsing with tea-tree oil, emptying our closets, washing and dry cleaning every fabric item we’ve ever owned, bagging everything else, vacuuming the entire house a hundred times, and smudging.

Bryan wouldn’t let me vacuum Hank’s head because he was all, “psychological trauma, blah, blah, blah,” but Bryan and the baby fortunately were not afflicted. After countless nights combing, and rocking in fetal position, we appeared to be bug free. Free of bugs at last!

It was about this time we decided to head up to the cabin — the blessed, lice-free cabin. We packed our lice-free clothes, invited our lice-free pals, and piled in the lice-free car.

We arrived to find the cabin infested with giant flying ants.

Flying ants chaining down from the ceiling! Flying ants, congregating on the moisturizer bottle! Flying ants playing poker and smoking tiny cigars!

I hung my lice-free head in our ant-infested living room. And after that I don’t remember anything, because I was drunk.

OK, I made that up. It took at least twenty minutes for the vodka to take effect, and in that time, Bryan suggested we crawl up in the attic to see if the ants were nesting up there or something. I nodded, considered that calmly, and then responded.

Icannothandlethis! Icannotdealwithanymorefuckingbugsinmyhair,ormybed,orcrunchingundermyfeet! Iamcompletelylosingmyshit! I! Am! Losing! My! Shit!

…I will be out on the deck.”

So Bryan husbanded up and drove to the hardware store to explain our situation:

-We have a bunch of flying ants in the living room.

The counter guy nodded.

-Do you have anything to kill them?
-Yep. It’s that time of year.
-What the hell are they?
-Flying ants.

Bryan nodded.

Bryan returned home to kill all the crawlie things with hippie, don’t-kill-the-baby spray. It was made of organic lavender and vegan DEET. I downed a pitcher of greyhounds on the deck and apologized repeatedly to our eerily understanding guests. In addition to being extremely polite people, Bryan slipped some Valium in their drinks. Just to take the edge off.

Thanks to Bryan’s efforts, we ended up having a pretty relaxing weekend overall. And then, a few hours after our guests left, Bryan came in from the deck holding a plastic deli container.

Inside the container was a scorpion he’d found on the deck, where the baby had been crawling around all weekend. If you’ve never seen one in real life, they look kind of like this:


photo source

I’ll tell you what, friends. It’s becoming clear that my karma is aaaaaall out of whack. I clearly need to spend the next month meditating on wrongs I may have committed in past lives. It’s possible I offed some prophets or something.

Anyway, when we got home, we found our apartment had been overtaken by locusts and frogs. Weird, right? I guess it’s that time of year. Fortunately, I hear tea-tree oil is a natural repellent.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

44 thoughts on “Swarm, the Quickening!

  1. Lyz

    You should probably just let Moses’ people go.

    Seriously, it’s when the water starts turning to blood and 666 becomes magically tatooed to your arse that you need to start worrying.

  2. barlow

    Those are probably not flying ants. This time of year, sometimes the termites will send out their winged offspring to spread the colony. They “swarm” like that. So I would definitely get someone to look at the specimens and see if it is a termite just in case they are eating your cabin. Yes, I am a geeky ex-building supervisor. I managed a complex when I was in Grad School and know some piece of useless trivia about every part of building maintenance.

  3. gs

    Termites was my first thought, too (I have seen them swarm like that). It wouldn’t hurt to have that checked out.

  4. Edwin Allen

    That was some seriously righteous raconteuring; all the necessary ingredients were included: tension, alcohol, flying ants, scorpions, and a husband who can husband up.
    I’m awed by the wickedness of yr mad skills.

  5. CoCo

    Um, have that taken care up before we come out there again, please. What would Stompy Jones say?

  6. MeL

    I heart tee trea oil, as well.

    I do not heart the bugs. Not at all.

    But I do heart the Maggie. Lice and all. Especially when you make the horror of it so entertaining. Thank you for holding up your misery for my enjoyment. I’m sure that Karma will require me to gift you something in return. Perhaps I will knit you a tea cozy in time for BlogHer.

  7. KarinGal

    I, too, was driven to drink when my kids found a baby scorpion in my two-year-old daughter’s bedroom. At the foot of her bed. ALIVE.

    Makes all the centipedes, flying cockroaches and ants that bite (at the same time, mind you) we’ve dealt with seem like a walk in the Hawaiian park.

  8. MontanaJen

    Dang – rough weekend! The bad comes in threes, my grandma always said. Looks like you’re out of the woods.

    I take that back if the next spring shower is of frogs. If that happens, two words. Four Seasons.

  9. Emily

    When we first moved to Florida, and I saw the size of the cockroaches here, step one was to set up quarterly pest control. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that we’ve pretty much made the pest control guy our king.

  10. Trish Smith

    Can I just say:

    AAAAAAAAAAAACK!

    Let me tell you, honey, you handled all of it (or as I’m referring to it, Armageddon Parts 1 and 2) unbelievably well. I am amazed, stunned, and just generally blown away by the fact that you did not 1. crawl out of your skin (literally), and 2. burn the house and cabin down when you discovered the infestations. Me, I would have done both. Not necessarily in that order. You are a brave, brave woman. I salute you.

    But then again, it would have taken so much alcohol to get me through the ordeal that there’s no way I would have remembered a single moment. Which is kind of the point.

    Mmmmm, alcohol-induced blackout. Yummy!

  11. Kat

    Dear Maggie,

    Hello Dear, Mother Nature here. I’m sure that you’ve found recent events a bit unsettling. Don’t take it personally. Every once in a while, I just like to remind people that a swarm of tiny bugs can really fuck shit up.

    Love,

    Mother Nature

    P.S. I really do appreciate your attempts to use green products and such.

  12. Jen

    Your story totally reminded me of something I need to put on my “top 100 list.”

    I got lice once. From a theater. I was a crazed maniac for two strait weeks. My hair was down to my waist (I was growing it out to donate,) and my super religious sister-in-law was convinced that satan was plotting to keep my hair off of some cancer patients head when I wanted to shave it all off. I persevered. Donated two lice free feet of hair.

    Yay tea tree oil!

  13. cartoongoddess

    Happy Passover! You’ve got plagues.

    Your last post made me so itchy (partly the hives), that I went through my hair with the flea comb I’d purchased the last time there was a lice outbreak in my daughters preschool. I got it just for peace of mind, and I’ve used it after several school bug epidemics just for peace of mind. If there’s something in my hair (or hers) I’ll find it.

    Still recommend the martinis, for bugs or hives. Or just for peace of mind.

  14. Jan

    Yep, those are termites, betcha. I lived in south Florida for a number of years and in spring a young bug’s thoughts turned to taking over your house with dozens of his buddies. Then, when the parties over, they don’t even have the good taste to leave. They just, like, DIE, and lie there till you sweep them up. PITA.

    Scorpions, on the other hand, are a true manifestation of all that is evil. You can kill them with hairspray although you probably don’t want to do that around Hank. Supposedly it clogs up their breathing holes. Me, I used enough that it might have drowned them. Either way, dead scorpion.

    Word of caution: Do NOT try to kill one by stomping or smashing it. For one thing, they’re hard little bast**ds. For another thing, if they’re mama scorpions, they might have teeny babies all over their backs, and those babies scatter and grow up and now they’re pissed (happened to a friend of mine, no lie). For a final thing, if you DO kill it with brute force, be very very careful of the tail; an ER nurse told me that they see people who kill one and then want to show the tail around, not realizing it still has venom in it/dripping out of it. Eeewwww, not to mention YUCK.

  15. Jan

    Oh yeah… what to do if you do see a scorpion and are disenchanted with the idea of smashing it: What I always did was put a glass or cup over it and “ook” it across the floor to the door, open the door, and do a flippy flingy thing, sometimes cup and all. I’ll warn you it’s creepy to hear them stabbing the inside of the cup as you push it along the floor. (Um, not paper cups, you understand — plastic, ceramic, glass, stoneware, etc.)

    The termites were annoying as all hell but they were temporary. Annual, but temporary. The cockroaches, as Emily mentioned, are ginormous and they can freakin’ FLY. Scorpions and lice, however, are scourges upon the earth.

  16. kimmers

    It’s ok…. the flying ants are definitely a step – several steps even – up from the lice. Ive been itching for two days after reading your entry, lol. When I was a kid I had an AWFUL case of head lice. It was a nightmare. Nothing killed the suckers… not Nix, not Rid, not tea tree oil or anything… my poor mom finally took us to the doctor who said we had some kind of super resistant (and big) strain – wonderful. He gave us prescription strength shampoos to wash with and let me tell you, if the fumes from that stuff are any indication, I probably lost brain cells sitting there with it slopped on my head for hours.

    This is a really long comment. I dont think 10000 words could adequately express the degree to which head lice horrify me. Good luck Maggie!

  17. mamie

    i am simultaneously peeing my pants from laughing and shuddering at the same time. the last two posts have been the highlights of my blog reading this week, not because of your trials with bugs, but because you are a frickin’ brilliant writer. i think you can consider your karma cleared, si?

  18. Krissa

    OH. MY. GAWD. You are strong, girl. I would so just be willing to hang it up at right about then. I mean, for me, it’s not so much the BUGS at that point, but, IT JUST KEEPS HAPPENING. Did you piss God off or something?
    I hope you make it through! OK, am SURE you will!

  19. Valerie

    Bryan is truly a hero. And reading everyone elses comments about the termites and cockroaches, and blah blah blah…really freaks me out. And makes me itch. I may not sleep tonight.

  20. Megan

    I wouldn’t have expected flying ants to make me think wistfully of home, but suddenly I could smell the pine trees, hear that omni-present rushing river sound and see those huge clumsy-looking flying ants crawling everywhere at my parents cabin on Highway 50 in the Sierras. As a kid they were fascinating… but the ladybug season was of course better.

  21. DimKnit

    I’ve got the heebie jeebies over here. Ick, yuck, and seconding to all of the above.

    The true remedy is to drink lots and lots of alcohol. The problem just magically disappears!

  22. Caroline

    Having been stung by scorpions four times, I can safely say that they hurt just a tad more than a yellow jacket. Which means, for me, at least, they hurt a whole hell of a lot.

    We use baking soda mixed with vinegar to draw the poison out. Works wonders.

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  24. Lori

    http://www.rosemaryrepel.com/

    Best lice treatment/prevention in the world. None of the traditional, horrible, unhealthy chemical treatments worked when my daughter came home from her school with them. After a month of fighting and combing and combing and combing, this helped!!!! And they’ve never come back, despite numerous outbreaks in her school since.

  25. weremonkey

    I believe the flying ants only occur once a year. It’s the way hives of ants – or termites or bees – reproduce. That swarm is loaded with young queens and drones. Aahhhh… drones.

  26. Auntie Raina

    This is all a joke, right? Or practicing your fiction writing? No,…this can’t be for real.

  27. Dorothy Stahlnecker

    Oh my gosh, I felt like I was reading a SciFi book. You poor thing. I’m praying for you. My daughter had this happen with her two daughters about 7 years ago and they had to shave their heads as they infected twice as they couldn’t find the kid who was the originator of the lice.

    And the Scorpion…oh my gosh…I would have had a stroke….

    Many blessings, get rid of this horrible Karma…I’m sending them right now…

    Dorothy from grammology
    remember to call gram
    http://www.grammology.com

  28. Clair

    I think we’re somewhat spoiled in San Francisco (lice episodes aside) in that we really don’t have all that many creepy critters flying or crawling about. That said, I think you handled this all with amazing poise. And we’ve all learned two good lessons:
    Never move to Florida
    Where tea tree oil fails, vodka steps in quite nicely,

  29. Melissa

    The best thing about greyhounds is that, if you add just a hint of grenadine and live in mid-Missouri, you are suddenly drinking a David Hasselhof (this may be a nation-wide phenomenon, but I doubt it).

  30. Bryan

    We had a termite guy come out last year and look at them, because I was convinced that they were termites.

    Here is the tattoo I got for quick reference:

    And now I will call the damn termite guy.

  31. Meg

    Ah, the joys of children and home ownership. Lice and crunchy bugs that might or might not cause your house to crumble into sawdust. Fun! Ack. My skin starts to itch and crawl every time I THINK the word “lice.” Gah. I think I would have stayed drunk for longer than you did. Because if being a grown-up requires one to handle myriad unpleasantries, being over 21 allows one to have a stiff drink or 12 afterwards.

  32. laurie

    And after all the good vibes you sent out in the universe with the lists and the hundreds of cool things you’ve done and want to do! That’ll teach you to try to be all positive, conjuring up the good vibes. Some lists of things that suck and that we’d never ever want to do again, perhaps? Just as a counterpoint? ;)

    Here’s hoping today finds you bugless!

  33. kir

    wow! this post reminded me of a week last October when my boyfriend’s cat had fleas (they were jumping ALL over me)… AND i had a rash all over my left leg thanks to a brief encounter with poison oak. i still itch thinking about it.

  34. kim at allconsuming

    Oh pet, it’s just because you don’t have school age children that the lice thing has freaked you out.

    Next time (because yes, there will be a next time, and a next time after that) you can rest easy that if you smother your head in your normal conditioner then comb and comb and comb you will be fine. And wash your pillowslip and anything that’s been on your head (ie a hat) in hot water. They are not like fleas which can jump tall buildings in a single bound. They are foul vile little creatures but they are not the wiley coyote of the insect world. No. Wait. Maybe they are.

    Is this when – for those in your part of the world – we say, ‘welcome to spring’?

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