Tuesday, November 26, 2013


My husband doesn't understand why I like to watch Infested! , a show on Animal Planet that presents, in documentary format, stories of people who have dealt with pests in their home. He says "it's horrible", and he's right.  Why do I want to watch a re-enactment of someone's near-fatal reaction to a spider bite?  Why would I expose myself to footage of piles of slithering snakes?

Honestly, because I find it fascinating.

Yes, the stories can be a bit repetitive at times.  There are only so many variations on the "home full of brown recluse spiders" theme.  I've seen at least three "bats in the attic" episodes.  But it's interesting to me not only because I get to learn something about animals and insects.  The stories push at and cross the boundary between human society and the rest of the natural world.  It challenges the idea that nature is something that only happens "out there", and that we get to control how our lives interact with it.

I have lived in a house that could have qualified for an episode of Infested!, although I didn't perceive it that way at the time.  For a short while, when I was a student in university, I lived in a house with  mice (and a few other humans).  If this were an episode of Infested!, the voice-over would tell you that the mice had been attracted to an abundant food source (someone had spilled hamster feed behind a piece of furniture and left it there, unbeknownst to any of us until we moved out).  Then they made themselves comfortable and multiplied.

I wasn't too worried by the presence of these mice.  I felt that it was bad manners for them to poop in the dish drainer, but that was easily cleaned up.  Occasionally I'd see one scurrying around out in the open, and it would look cute and healthy.

They bothered me most at night, banging around in the heating ducts.  They were also a constant presence in my bedroom, on account of that was where the previous resident had spilled the hamster food.  I slept on a foam mat on the floor, and sometimes one would scuttle across my legs.  It was annoying because they woke me up.  I remember once sitting bolt upright in bed and quickly turning on my bedside lamp.  The mouse who was halfway across my duvet stopped in his (her?) tracks and stared at me.  I stared back, as menacingly as I could.  We stayed like that for what seemed like a long time, until the mouse turned tail and disappeared. 

If this scene were re-enacted on Infested!, a biologist would have appeared on the screen next, running through a list of all the diseases mice can carry: rabies, plague, the pox, nuclear dysentery, Indonesian barking flu, and that thing that makes your ears turn black and fall off.  (I made some of those up.)  I guess my point is that it wasn't that bad, living with the mice.  None of us came to any long-term harm.  I've also had to live with a handful of giant cockroaches, and although they were creepy they weren't really so bad either.

I have to say, I'm glad that I don't live with any uninvited guests anymore.  And I'm glad that I don't live in the southern U.S., because I would definitely draw the line at scorpions.


DarcKnyt said...

You're a far, FAR braver soul than I am! I have a story on one of my blogs somewhere about living with mice, and how that shook out for me.

Not as well as it did for you, suffice to say. :)

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Those infestations of mice are nothing... now an infestation of squirrels, that's something to fear. Squirrels have been known to chew through a persons skull while they sleep and suck out their soul... at least I'm fairly sure that's what they do...

wigsf3 said...

My home is infested. Infested with the worst pest of all, humans.

LL Cool Joe said...

In our house in AZ we have a bug man that visits every month. That probably explains my views on bugs.

Here in the UK we have squirrels in our loft, well until they eat the rat poison, then we have dead squirrels in the loft.

Granny Annie said...

I do not mind bugs outside. That is their domain and I will tread lightly where they exist. However when they come uninvited into my home it is another story and though I feel guilty that they are not going home to their supper tables in whatever nest or hole they dwell, it's their own fault for crossing into my territory and I snuff them out.

Vanessa T said...

Bee infestations fascinate me, but the others? I'd have the heebie-jeebies for the rest of the day. *shudder*

I had an infestation once! An old, old apt I once lived in had cockroaches, and they found some candied nuts I'd saved in my hope chest from a wedding. That scream you heard from way far away back in 1983 - that was me. Now you know.