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I've avoided chatting about this since, let's face it, bugs are not most people's choice of a favorite topic. (I said most.) But alas, I can be silent no longer.

We have moths.

We had a few moths when I arrived here, but nothing much – a wisp of flapping here and there, something pretty in the night. But then, as I earlier mentioned, we had rain. Lots of rain. Lots and lots of rain, falling right over our nearby lake. Moths like rain. So now we have moths.

Correct that. We have a legion, an army, a conquering force of moths, tiny, white, and able to enter a nostril in a single second, capable of rising in blinding, silent, flapping clouds, swarming right into a human throat. They don't bite, but people without glasses find themselves shielding their eyes, and people with glasses find themselves desperately batting the bugs away to keep them out of noses.

Worsening the problem: like all moths, they cannot resist light, and by light, I'm referring to the lights on the second floor thoughtfully placed there by management to let humans see the stairs they're climbing up. Unfortunately, in order to reach any of the apartment doors, people must walk past these lights (sounds vaguely death like, doesn't it?) which right now means walking through an insect cloud and trying to flap bugs out of eyes and noses, which people object to, even though the bugs don't bite. (So, um, julbkwrm: still interested in dinner?) They seem fairly short lived, which means that each night and morning we end up stepping on a literal carpet of moths, hearing a crunch crunch under our feet. (The moths are not that active in the afternoons, and usually by that point someone has swept or blown them away.)

(A brief internet search tells me that the correct common name for these moths may be whiteflies, or they may be tiny white moths, since they fly absolutely silently and seem to love light. If the second, the internet informs me that one possibility might be to change the upstairs lightbulb from yellow to red, since moths are less attracted to red light – still providing enough light to see. I'm thinking this sounds like a plan.)

Never let it be said that the apartment management did not respond strongly to this crisis:

They came with a leafblower.


Indeed, they have been coming with a leafblower every morning – on weekdays. Here's what happens when you attack moths with a leafblower:


Moths: Whee!

Me: Oh, my ears. Headache.

Cats: Ooooh! Should we run wildly around the apartment? We should! We should! Should we jump on the deaf elderly cat to make sure she's as upset as we are? We should! We should! Should we leap on the human's neck to make her stop the leafblower sounds! We should! We should! Why aren't we getting tuna out of this trauma?

Moths: We're back!

Our neighbors, unimpressed with the leafblower method, have attempted other methods: yelling "Get the FUCK away!" (ineffective); citronella candles (these might be effective, but since no one wants to leave a lit candle near wooden walls with a nice, friendly breeze on an unattended basis, and since no one wants to sit out with the moths, the effectiveness has not been fully demonstrated); brooms (good exercise) vacuums (temporarily effective) and flying back to Illinois (seriously, and extremely effective if you like Illinois). We have spiders, but they just are not weaving or reproducing fast enough. Bad spiders.

The moths retreated – seemingly – for a few days. But last night, S and I encountered the worst clouds yet – particularly bad since I was already feeling dizzy, a sensation not helped when the atmosphere is whirling in front of you. We got into the apartment as best we could and slammed the door – but not quite fast enough. The moths leapt for the living room lamp. Even the cats leapt back for a second, before realizing, WAIT HUMANS THAT CAN SCRATCH US WE'RE HERE! AND LOOK THEY BROUGHT US SOMETHING TO CHASE NOW WE CAN RUN ROUND AND ROUND!

Which is what happened next – a delighted Little One and Grey One jumping madly after moths. This might have worked better had not some of the jumps involved landing on me and on Lucy, the very elderly cat who feels that moths are Other People's Problems, thanks, and surely, but surely, her long life has entitled her to a night spent free of a single cat jumping on her in pursuit of a moth. Lucy has been somewhat mollified with ice water this morning, but she is one unhappy cat.

To counter the moths, I have discovered another plus to living in Central Florida – the nights and evenings are already turning delightfully cool, in the upper 60s or lower 70s, even though it's still September. (This is probably true for the mornings, too, but I tend not to go out in mornings, or notice much about temperatures, or indeed the planet, when I do). The problem, of course, with heading out to breathe in these evenings is that I also have to breathe through moths. Perhaps the cooler weather will slowly deter their flapping. We'll see.

(The neighbors across the way assure me that these are the worst moth clouds they've ever seen here, and it's never been this bad. So I have hope.)



xmas me
Mari Ness

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May 2015


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