Monday, June 29, 2009

OK, about those millipedes...

Dan Karaty is a hard act to follow, so I might as well go in the complete opposite direction, all the way to disgusting, and tell the millipede story.

Some of you may have seen the pictures over on my Flickr. But here they come again.

You have been warned.

Along about May 30, 31, I strolled into my kitchen, with its white linoleum floor, and spotted something small, and dark brown, over near one of the baseboards.

Now, my vision isn't all that great in the mornings, and I'm not going to lie here - I am NOT Suzy Homemaker, and I frequently have small brown things on the floor of my kitchen - I mean, seriously, people - I work 80 - 100 hours a week (a have 2 jobs), I don't have a housekeeper, and I have a BIG dog who comes and goes through the kitchen to reach the great outdoors, so there is usually yard/dog detritus on the floor - bits of leaves, pinestraw, etc. And it's not all Bailey's fault, 'cause I freely admit I drop stuff, and don't always pick it up right away.

But even with my extremely impaired vision, I instantly knew this small brown thing was different.

For one thing, there hadn't been anything in that particular spot the night before, when Bailey and I headed upstairs for bed.

And for another, it was moving. Albeit, slowly, but still, it was moving.

So I crouched down, and identified it as a millipede, about 3/4 inch long, and strolled past it and let Bailey out.

And then I grabbed a paper towel, scooped it up, and put it in the trash.

And then I saw another one.


I have never, ever seen a millipede in this house before. Twenty years, and no millipedes.

One, I can excuse - but 2, in the same room?

But I went on upstairs, and readied myself for work, and left; promptly forgetting about the 'pedes.

And there were a few more when I got home.

And even more the next day. Always in the kitchen.

So the next day, I turned on the lights in the halls and dining room, where I have dark brown hardwood floors, and I see more of the 'pedes, cleverly camouflaged by the brown hardwood.

So now I'm concerned - here in the SC midlands we are used to the occasional Palmetto bug (or roach, as we call 'em) - because we are surrounded by pine trees, and those Southern roaches love pinestraw, but I knew these millipedes had to be coming from somewhere, and I wanted them gone.

They don't scare me (like the roaches do) - but I want to be able to walk around barefoot without crunching on them!

I was coincidentally leaving for a week away at William Holland on June 7, so I formulated a genius plan: I would set off a bunch of those bug fogger things, and come home in a week to a few dead millipedes, and be done with it. Problem solved.

So for the rest of the week I continued to pick up a few millipedes every morning and evening, and on Sunday I loaded my stuff, and Bailey, into the car, set off the bombs, and drove away, peace in my heart.

And as I drove into my driveway the following Sunday night, I remembered the bug bombs, and knew I might have to do a little housekeeping before I went to bed, but I certainly wasn't ready for this.

There were hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of millipede carcasses - especially in the carpeted areas downstairs.

And I had not EVER seen a millipede crawling on the carpet. So I figure that when they were alive, they must crawl along the base of the carpet, well beneath the fibers, and when they die, they curl up and rise to the top of the nap. Because this is what my living room carpet looked like. Can you get an idea of the scope of the problem, here? This is just about 8 square inches of carpet!

So I vacuumed and vacuumed, and finally felt like I had gotten most of them (although I confess that I have not yet pulled out the furniture and gone along the baseboards.)

And then I went upstairs, and found my first evidence of the upstairs 'pedes. 'Cause I had never seen them upstairs before the great bombing.

This is the (upstairs) guest bathroom floor - all those tiny brown specks are dead millipedes.

And there were several hundred curled up in the various bedrooms upstairs - but nowhere near the numbers I had seen downstairs.

But I vacuumed, and went to bed feeling like: Mission Accomplished.

And then Bailey and I got up the next morning, and went downstairs, and there were 3 more of the damn things crawling on the kitchen floor.

And more when I got home.

So I knew now what I had really known a week earlier - these things were coming from somewhere, and I officially had an infestation.

The next day I called several pest control companies, and discussed my situation, which I had already researched on the internet. Various websites had told me that millipedes are often driven indoors by heavy spring rains - but that really wasn't the weather situation here, and didn't explain why the bombs failed to take care of it. All the pest control companies I talked to told me "it just happens," but that they could take care of it with quarterly servicing. I didn't want quarterly servicing - I insisted that this was something new, and there was clearly a source, and I wanted it treated and fixed, and that would be that. So one company finally agreed to come do a one-time treatment (for twice the price), and we set up the date.

On the appointed day, the technician arrived, and I invited him in, and he explained everything he would be doing that day. And I started asking him questions - like where they were coming from. And he stuck with that story about "sometimes it just happens." And I asked him whether the millipedes were using the stairs to get upstairs, or going up through the walls (because inquiring minds wanted to know), and he said probably both. I envisioned waves of millipedes swarming up my staircases.


And then he asked to see some of the millipedes - and naturally I was able to show him a little pile of dead 'pedes I had shoveled into the corner of the kitchen for just this occasion. I told him I hadn't seen a live one for a couple of days.

And he started treating and inspecting.

And almost immediately he found some live ones, crawling along the baseboard in the downstairs bathroom.

After about 30 minutes, he finished inside, and headed for the crawlspace.

About an hour later, he rang the doorbell, and told me he needed to show me something in the crawlspace.

*Cringe*. I avoid the crawlspace at all costs - it has a dirt floor, and is only 3 feet high, and has spiderwebs!

So I went no further than the door of the crawlspace, bravely sticking my head in as far as my shoulders would allow. The technician went about 15 feet in, and pointed to the 2 hoses which go from my A/C units across the floor of the crawlspace for about 35 feet, to where they enter the wall of the house. One of these hoses was sitting in a virtual river of water, which was actually pooled condensate, while the other one, which was only 4 inches away, was perfectly dry.

Although I couldn't see it from my spider-safe vantage in the doorway, the technician told me that the wet hose was covered in billions and billions of crawling millipedes - apparently attracted by the accumulated moisture. He said that while he had treated this area, and these millipedes would soon be dead, others would soon take their place unless the moisture was ultimately dealt with.

So I called the A/C folks, and they immediately came to the house (wow!) and diagnosed the problem as a failure of the hose's insulation, and replaced said insulation. And they also kept telling me over and over again that neither of them had ever, in all their years in this business, seen a situation where the insulation on the "line set" failed, condensation accumulated, and millipedes moved in.

When the pest control technician was finished, he came back into the house to explain all the chemicals he had used, and have me sign the paperwork, and while we stood in the hallway discussing it, we looked down and saw live millipedes crawling up the side of the couch, presumably to get away from the chemicals he had put down. So now I'm envisioning swarms of millipedes crawling up all my furniture.

But it has now been a week, and no sign of live millipedes.

When I came home from work on Friday I saw this dead roach on the carpet in the breakfast nook - but no more live bugs, and no further dead millipedes.

And we have a saying in the South: the only good roach is a dead roach.

So I have a good bit of housework to do - pulling out all the furniture, and vacuuming behind it, and in all the cushions - but I really believe the problem is solved. Yay!


KnockKnocking said...

ummm, grody. Glad it was resolved though!

Kristy's Custom Creations said...

Oh dear, what a nightmare you have dealt with. I would have been crazy by now! Glad to hear it's been resolved.

Little Dickens Designs said...

Ohhhh heebie jeebie time. I couldn't get past the pic of the millipede!

Howling Caterpillars said...

there's only a couple beasties where I can honestly say that I'm a girl and not have to deal with it...One is scorpions. I work at a petshop and we sell them..eww...
the other is bajilliony leggedy beasties...

I once saw a centipede with a mohawk that would've done Jean Bouvier proud...I ran...LOL

I'm glad it was taken care of...

Carol Dean said...

ugh...chills just thinking about this :(

Sweet Freedom said...

oh CD - just more proof that we Southern belles are tougher than you .... cactus flowers?