Attack of the Zombie Bugs


I spent a good part of this weekend battling a bug infestation. It was, for lack of a better word, abso-frakking-lutely disgusting.

They’re apparently called Indian meal moths (I’m not sure if they’re from India or if Indian is supposed to be short for American Indian), and they come into your house via hippy food. Which I tend to eat a lot of. Apparently, so do they. They lay their eggs in grain-foods, and then disgusting larvae crawl out and nest in the corners of your house before eventually evolving to their final form, the fearless mini-moth.

They are pernicious and voracious.

I had to throw out most of my food. They were in the cupboards, the big pantry. Everywhere. I even found some in the bathroom. That didn’t make sense until I realized they were also in the pantry, which is right next to the bathroom. (I think the pantry is supposed to be a linen closet, but I had more food than linens, so.)

These bugs are the same bugs that infested my mom’s house a few weeks back. Actually, probably a lot longer than a few weeks back, but ‘a few weeks back’ is when I cleaned out the infestation. Apparently they traveled from her place to mine, via the Box-of-Food Car on the Volvo Train.

As soon as I realized what was going on, I looked into buying  a flamethrower. Turns out flamethrowers are a lot harder to get than the movies would have you believe, so I searched out other options. Also, I don’t think mom would appreciate coming home from Nicaragua to find the apartment building had burned to the ground in a “mysterious blaze”.

It soon became apparent that my only option was to clean. By hand. Like a Muggle.

And to find some way of killing the bugs that didn’t involve me actually touching them until they were good and dead. I was raised a Buddhist and I try to have respect for all living things, but there are limits to my compassion. Besides, it’s not like these guys are endangered. BELIEVE ME. There were a million+ in my apartment.

I spent hours cleaning out cupboard and pantry. I went through every piece of food, saving what was bug-free and throwing out what was not. These bugs are so horrible that I couldn’t even risk keeping a lot of stuff that looked like it might have been infestation-free — I had to get rid of it.

I ended up throwing out some of my tea. That was heartbreaking.

Once the pantry was empty, I searched for a way to slaughter the bugs in glorious conquest! I wanted to make a million widows in one day.

But, you know, I’m not a rich person. So I searched within myself my house for what I might already have that could murder insects. I found an innocuous-looking clear liquid that smells quite strongly. Vinegar. Wonderful vinegar, amazing vinegar — will your gifts upon mortals know no limits? You kill plants. You burn retinas. You must be like acid to insect bodies.

Vinegar in a spray bottle is possibly the greatest innovation to the lazy housekeeper. It cleans everyonething! Spray, wipe, done.

A mixture of vinegar and some water in a spray bottle will fix most cleaning woes in your house. Everything else can be solved with baking soda and Magic Erasers. Or fire. I never like ruling that one out completely.

I got to work spraying the bugs with my vinegar-water mix. On Sunday I sprayed so much vinegar into the now-empty pantry that I could barely breathe. I sneezed more times that day than my mom does in a day, and that’s a pretty amazing feat. When the vinegar hit the bugs they writhed and fell from their headlong flight out of hell. The larvae didn’t fall off the walls, but they writhed just the same. I thought my work was done.

On Monday I woke up early enough to get work done before I would have to start Thanksgiving dinner for Nate and myself. I had some coffee and sat down to work for several hours. At some point I decided to check and see if the bugs were still dead.

They weren’t.

Somehow they’d Lazarused their way back to the world of the living. I sprayed them again with vinegar, and this time they writhed and then shook it off like godsdamn zombies.

I now had zombie bugs in my apartment, and they were getting smarter.

I went a little crazy. I kept the vinegar spray bottle on me at all times and sprayed the hells out of any bug that came anywhere near me. They started divebombing me; I’d drop and roll, firing off shots as I went down. It was all-out war.

At some point Nate heard me scream “That’s right, come near me again and I’ll fucking rain down acid on your soulless husk of a body, demon bug!”

I was going crazy. I was at the end of my rope. I was ready to break into the armory and find a flamethrower and end it all in a blaze of glory.

So Nate took me grocery shopping on our way to his place, and we got a can of Raid. Normally I don’t like using things like Raid; I don’t trust them. I tend to think they’ll probably give me cancer, and I don’t think they’re very good for the environment. Not to mention my tendency to avoid killing other beings. I lived in Hawaii for 10 years without touching a can of Raid once, so that should tell you how desperate I was this weekend.

When I got home Monday evening, I got to work spraying chemical-y death upon the bugs. I sprayed every inch of the pantry and then shut the door to it, shoving a towel at the bottom so they couldn’t fly out through the crack between door and floor.

I then coughed up a lung, because apparently it doesn’t matter if you wear something over your face — you use Raid, you’re breathing it in.

It’s Wednesday morning (officially; I haven’t slept yet, though, so it’s still Tuesday evening to me). The bugs in the pantry seem to still be dead. I saw one in the kitchen earlier today. It may have been two bugs, actually — it looked like it was two wrapped together in coitus, and they did leave a larva behind after I blasted their faces with a shot of Raid. Which…doesn’t make sense if they lay their eggs in grains.

Ok, I have no idea how the life cycle of these things works except that if you kill them they come back to life.

I gave the pantry another spray with Raid tonight, just to be on the safe side.

Tomorrow, I finish cleaning. I shall fanatically wipe down every surface in the house that may have had a bug on it at some point in time. I then will bathe in vinegar, scrubbing at my skin with a Brillo pad. I’m thinking of installing an air lock at the front door that scans for bug infestation on anything brought into the apartment, and then blows it up.

Apparently this experience has awakened some latent obsessive behavior. That’s…probably not a good thing.