Let’s start with the invited pests. We’ve always encouraged Child Harbat to get her hands dirty in the garden and be unafraid of insects and creepy crawlies. The potato bug has to be one of the most child-friendly insects, and amuses all with its ability to roll into a ball like Sonic the Hedgehog. CH found some in the garden yesterday and thus began the short love affair with Sugar, the potato bug.
Sugar was invited, with a friend named either Cocoa or “that one”, into the froggy-themed insectarium with a fully-stocked larder of cilantro and…cilantro. We’re not sure what potato bugs eat but it seems not to be cilantro.
In hindsight we probably should have included some water. During the evening Sugar and Cocoa became restless, climbing the walls and falling on their backs. I watched them for about five minutes, starved as I am for entertainment, as they struggled to right themselves. Surely, I thought, evolution would have swept these things away into the dustbin of failures like the flying slug and one-legged unicorn if they couldn’t right themselves after they fell on their backs. Either I’m impatient or it takes them several hours to get upright but I had to intervene and set them on their many wriggling feet. I don’t know if they thanked me, because by the next morning they were immobile. Did Child Harbat cry? Did she learn a valuable lesson about pets and continued care? No, she left the insectarium in the front hall and ran out the door to school.
Now about the uninvited pests. I thought our resident rat had skipped town after we put out a fatwa on all rodent housing development in the garage. Then two nights ago I heard a curious sound while brushing my teeth. I paused and cocked my head like a dog hearing the rustle of the dog food bag, while foam dripped out the corner of my mouth. It was the pitter patter of little feet. Since Child Harbat runs like a charging bull rhino and Number Two isn’t yet mobile, this could only mean one thing: the rat has come into the house. Remember the scene in Aliens where the alien detector is pinging out the closing distance of the unseen enemy: five meters, four meters, three meters…that’s impossible, it’s right on top of us! Then the space marines slowly tilt their heads up and realize the things are in the ceiling. This was my realization as I heard scurrying, munching, scampering, and mischief-making. The rat is in our attic. So it’s war then.