Rocket-man and I are standing in the kitchen discussing the events of the day …and what on earth to make for dinner. He’s been away on business travel so much so having him home, and worrying about dinner, has been lovely. Though I’m still fighting this cold and hacking cough, I wanted a little evening libation. As we sip on wine and ponder pasta or hamburgers on the grill for dinner my eyes are drawn to movement on the floor. Taking his sweet little time, as if on an evening stroll, a scorpion saunters between us.
I jump back, nearly spilling my wine and point to the invader. “Damn it….not another one! That’s the fourth scorpion this week,” I screech, dissolving into a coughing fit. Rocket-man sees him too and calmly stomps it with his clog-adorned foot. “You’ve got to call the pest control guy again,” he says as he wipes up the smashed remains of the scorpion with a paper towel.
“You can see that it’s that time of year again!” I say as my coughing fit subsides. “You know the drill; once again I’m falling into my crazy-I-cannot-relax-until-October stage,” I tell my husband. He knows me. He knows that once again, I’ve got a flashlight on my night table to shine light on my shoes in the middle of the night before my feet hit the floor. He knows that I’ll be a crazy woman with a can of Raid and he knows that it will be difficult for me to relax on our lovely patio knowing that snakes and other creepy crawlers will be out and about in full force before the month is out.
So the next morning I made a call to the pest control guy. You’ll recall that a new fellow replaced our previous pest control guy some months back. The new guy loves spiders and even raises black widows in his home. He also tends a snake or two in his home. No surprise that he’s never been married and he readily admits to no prospects. This guy just loves to talk and I’ll admit to finding it mildly annoying. I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps it’s just all the talk about creepy crawlers makes me feel like itchy…as if the very insects we are discussing are crawling all over me. Just concentrate on the business at hand will you! You’re here to kill insects! He tells me that he’ll spray a fine dust throughout the crawl-space under our house. He explains that it’s perfectly safe to humans and The Poodle (it’s not an insecticide) but that it’s lethal to centipedes and scorpions; they don’t like the dust and it pretty much dries them up instantly.
Perfect. “It had better work,” I say. I’d like to add “or else” because I’m so exasperated with all these scorpions but strange as he is (what with the black widow love and all) I don’t want to alienate the pest control guy.
So, I’m often torn about broaching a question because that gets him started on too much information sharing. Case in point: I asked whether snakes are starting to venture out. It’s been warm enough for a week straight and we’re almost into April. I want to be prepared!
“Not yet,” comes his southern drawl. “Although I do have a client in New Hope that has been having a devil of a time with water moccasins.”
My eyes grow as big as dinner plates. That’s practically around the corner. “Oh my! Really?! Your client must live near a lake or river.”
“Oh no. She’s just got a big swampy area near her house.”
I think of the large puddle of standing water on the empty lot beside our house. It’s often full of frogs croaking loudly day and night and, as the weather warms, it’ll become home to a million mosquitoes…all hovering patiently, waiting to swarm and dine upon whomever opens the back door and steps out onto the patio. The image of a bunch of water moccasins slithering about or nesting in a tangled bundle seizes me. I can feel the fear rising up from my stomach, making me sick…gripping my heart and my throat until I’m finding it hard to take a deep breath.
“What on earth can you do to get rid of a bunch of water moccasins? I ask, trying (unsuccessfully) to sound calm. Although in my defense, for heaven’s sake…who actually LIKES water moccasins? These snakes (also known as cottonmouths) are North America’s most poisonous semi-aquatic snake. Semi-aquatic because although these snakes are found primarily in water but they can be just as happy on land.
“We came up with a great solution! (This guy is passionate about his work!). You see, king snakes are impervious to other snakes’ venom. King snakes eat water moccasins. So we got five female Kings and five make Kings and let them loose. And voilà! That’s pretty much taken care of her snake problem,” he says with a smile.
He knows french?
“Um..why did you need so many male and female King snakes? Wait. Never-mind. I don’t want to know. I’m already sure to have nightmares tonight because of this little conversation about snakes.”
Yes. It’s just best not to know. I’m filing this whole conversation under “ignorance is bliss.”