Vermin

by Honolulu Mother

Here’s a topic to make everyone cringe: What problem creatures tend to infest homes or yards in your area, and what do you do to fight them off?

In Hawaii, we don’t have cold winters to knock back the insect population, and we have flying cockroaches of a size only seen in most mainlanders’ nightmares, colloquially known as B-52s.

You can sprinkle borax along all your walls, and put out Hoy Hoy traps regularly, but they *will* get into your house, and on a still and muggy night lovelorn roaches will take to the air.

We also have centipedes (mostly outside, thank goodness) in our insect arsenal, and of course termites are responsible for a great deal of property damage. And we have the usual rodent suspects. And while I wouldn’t personally class them as vermin (because they eat termites and other bugs), geckos are a constant presence in Hawaii homes.

What unusual vermin does your area have? And, do you have any vermin-fighting tips?

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122 thoughts on “Vermin

  1. Laura’s (re)introduction to TX:

    Day 1: leave Doritos on counter. Come back to find swarming with ants. Start cleaning and squishing. Discover that they are fire ants. Remember how much you hate fire ants. Drown with Windex, because that is all you have, and go buy ant baits.

    Day @14: walk out of kitchen to see world’s largest cockroach — 3″? 4″?? — parked on back corner of sofa. Decide that you are an independent, grown-ass woman who can take on one stupid cockroach, even if it appears to have grown up next to a nuclear reactor. Grab thickest magazine you have and slowly approach. Run screaming like a little girl as it FLIES RIGHT AT YOUR HEAD. They FLY??? Listen as a native explains, “oh, yeah, that’s not a cockroach, that’s a palmetto bug.”

    Day @30: lie in your bed peacefully reading a book. Look up, see a 10″ centipede two feet above your head. Luckily, you are now the proud owner of a giant-sized can of Raid, courtesy of the little ol’ palmetto bug. Soak the wall.

    Day @150: move out of the cute little old bungalow and into a lovely modern apartment. On the third floor.

    Day @1000: move back to MD, land of carpenter bees and one-week-a-year (non-fire-) ant swarms.

    New annoyance: moths in the pantry. Had to toss a whole shelf’s worth of cereal. Unfortunately this is round 2 — I think they came in with some imported rice, and I had to toss a good portion of one pantry. Now @6 months later, they found an open cereal box in the other pantry and colonized that.

    Hmm, let’s see: moths vs. Giant Flying Mutant Cockroaches. Yeah, I’ll take the moths.

  2. This is one reason I don’t want to live in a warm climate. I couldn’t take the bugs.

    We get an infestation of black ants (usually small ones) in our house like clockwork each year in early summer, but as long as we keep the kitchen clean and put out some terro traps, they’re usually gone within a couple of weeks.

    We’ve been in our house for 13 years, and the only other vermin problem we’ve had so far (knock on wood!) is that we saw a mouse in our kitchen, and another in our basement one day a few years ago. We called the local exterminators right away, and they put baits around the house, and we never saw any again.

    We get an occasional skunk in our yard, but it’s not a huge problem (we don’t have pets to worry about). And this year, we seem to have a couple of bunnies living under our shed. They munch on the vegetables in our garden, but they’re so cute that we don’t really care that they’re stealing our produce.

  3. LFB – So true!!! As a kid I had long hair and a boy thought it would be funny to put a palmeto bug in my hair. Let’s just say 45 yeas later, I still haven’t recovered.

    Roaches – I can’t stand them and lately due to the heat they keep appearing – all shapes and sizes. When we have little/no rain and lots of hot days, everything comes inside. Mid-July thru August we see bugs in the house, but not the rest of the year.

    Ants – mainly when it is super dry coming in the house, but once had some carpenter ants that required an exterminator. Currently have no fire ants in our yard – knock on wood. We do periodically have issues with red wasps nesting under our eaves. They can be aggressive, so we tend to spray the nests and knock them down. Spiders – we get some inside. I don’t mind spiders. I was so excited the other morning to go into the kitchen and find that over night, a spider had made a web and caught itself a roach. I was ready to high five the spider because our cats just watch the bugs. I keep threatening them that they need to earn their keep!

    We get geckos ususally outside, not so much lately, but they tend to hang around doorways (outside) and eat other things. We have possums, a skunk, a racoon, and an occaisonal fox come through our yard at night. We mainly see the possums and the skunk. Thankfully, we have never startled the skunk! We don’t do anything about these.

  4. Stinkbugs are a plague during most of the year, except summer.

    Pavement ants were all over the cracks in the driveway and patio. I tried ant spray, but Google told me to try table salt. Apparently the ants eat the salt, ingest water to counteract the salt, and then explode. It seemed to work, because after a good rainstorm cleared away the salt, the tell-tale dirt mounds disappeared from the cracks for at least six weeks. They are back now, but in smaller numbers.

    Do chipmunks count as vermin? I set out rat traps, but really did not like dealing with the contents, so after disposing of two dead chipmunks, I got a Havahart live trap and over a few weeks deported 23 of them to chipmunk camp at other locations. Have not seen a single one for a month. Victory. Yes, I will have to do this again next year, but it’s kind of fun, except that you do have to deport them one at a time, and find a suitable nearby place to send them.

  5. I have a low tolerance for bugs. Lately we’ve had milder winters so the bugs have be more annoying than usual. The worst ones are these big hairy centipede things that love the basement. They move pretty fast too, and my cat refuses to do anything about them.

    Earlier in the summer I found a nasty thick spider in the washer. I drowned it in bleach and then called the Orkin guy. No more spiders, but those centipede things are still around. ick.

  6. One of the things I love about Seattle is that there are very few bugs. And no mosquitos! When I moved to Seattle, my first apartment did not have screens. I was shocked until I realized you don’t really need them here.

    We did have to have a wasp nest removed this summer. And we occasionally get fruit flies. But nothing too bad.

  7. When we first moved into our place, the building was still under construction. We had a few mice and cockroaches. Now, years later, whenever anyone is doing a major renovation (e.g. combining two apartments), we see more cockroaches. More mundane stuff – silver water bugs in the bathroom and fruit flies. Occasional rat siting on the sidewalk or subway.

    I just saw a news piece on a pre-k school that is held nearly completely outdoors. One of the activities they did was collecting bugs and other critters on a white sheet and observing them. None of the kids wanted to touch them. I love this idea. I loathe things that startle me, so that includes most bugs. I wish I, a grown woman, did not over react to bugs. DH kindly tolerates this and deals with most bug issues.

    I don’t think I could deal with palmetto bugs.

  8. When I first moved to NC, I opened my pantry to see a palmetto bug crawling out of an open bag of chips. I screamed and ran into my bedroom closet. This is when I realized that food storage in the South has different needs from up north. Even though the exterminator came monthly, I still would find them once in awhile. I never really got used to it.

    I had no idea until then that in certain parts of the country, exterminators are a routine, monthly expense like paying a gas bill.

    Living in the city, we have rats, pigeons, and squirrels as our main vermin. I fight a battle every year with the squirrels over the tomatoes in my garden. Rats aren’t as big a problem in my current neighborhood as they were in my last neighborhood. I’m not sure why. We had a possum living under our rooftop deck for awhile – we had to hire someone to catch it & send it to a farm in the country. (or kill it – whatever – it’s gone!) There are raccoons too of course, but I have never seen any. DH says that they are all over the city neighborhood where he grew up, and that they used to fight over who had to take out the garbage because the chances of running into them were high.

  9. “I was so excited the other morning to go into the kitchen and find that over night, a spider had made a web and caught itself a roach. I was ready to high five the spider”

    ITA. We have a lot of spiders here — most particularly, these ones that build these tunnel-like webs. The webs aren’t particularly attractive like the regular cobwebs can be, but at least the dude is eating other bugs that bother me more. So you go, spider. Basically, the only bugs I really tolerate are the carnivorous ones that leave me alone.

    Albuquerque was fun because we found a couple of small dead scorpions in the house. Those little buggers are scary-looking. Plus we had to be careful about any rodents at all because of hanta virus.

    This year the new fun is the gophers that have taken over my mom’s garden — we have really had some Caddyshack-worthy moments so far. But she finally got one and convinced DH to release it a few miles away, and she reports that all has been quiet on the garden front since, so fingers crossed.

  10. ““oh, yeah, that’s not a cockroach, that’s a palmetto bug.”

    Similar thing happened to me when I moved to Charleston. I’d seen them on sidewalks, where they’re more comical than alarming. But one morning I was half-asleep in the shower, and when I opened my eyes after rinsing the shampoo, there was an enormous one that had crawled up the shower curtain and inches from my face.

    A couple months ago, someone dropped a little chunk of watermelon under the kitchen table just before we left for a long weekend, and we came back to a sugar ant infestation. They were hard to get rid of at first, because the baits take a few days. In the meantime, I was reading all about them, and how one scout will find something sugary, and leaves a trail of pheromes, and that’s when the troops come marching, single-file, relentlessly. The baits do work as claimed, but the frustrating part is that they work best when you take no other action. Let them think they’ve hit the jackpot, feed the whole nest, bring the leftovers home in doggy bags, etc. If you start spraying the trails, or smashing the ones that you see, you’re messing up the whole plan. But when it works, it’s like a switch goes off and no more ants.

    Then I mounted a counteroffensive. Baits in the garage, on the screened porch, right outside the basement door, by the front steps. A day or two later, each bait was like the busiest drive thru window you’ve ever seen. And then…silence. I pushed back their perimeter, at least for now.

    “This is one reason I don’t want to live in a warm climate. I couldn’t take the bugs.”

    The mosquitoes in Maine were plentiful and huge, although remarkably slow and unassertive, and therefore, surprisingly easy to kill.

  11. Both my mother and MIL both are terrified of pests. Don’t quite get this, since these ladies were brought up in a tropical climate with houses that had their windows and very often their doors open.
    My DH and kids hate pests. We had Terminex but DH deemed them unsatisfactory because of the one or two roaches that showed up occasionally so we switched to another company. We have a warm climate and some pests getting in are to be expected.
    I am my family’s exterminator. The rest will point, shout and run off.

  12. We get an infusion of mice mostly in spring and fall. Whenever DH plugs an opening, it’s only a matter of time before they find another way in. I’ve stopped storing certain foods in our basement pantry because of the mice. We have reusable traps set with either PB or bacon. One day we caught 4 mice (throughout the day) with one trap. Even our dog has caught a mouse or two. One time he was so proud of himself and kept trotting back and forth with this squirming mouse clamped in his jaws. I could not get him to drop it, so I offered him some leftover steak, thinking that he’d drop the mouse to get the steak. He swallowed the mouse ALIVE and then ate the steak. No apparent side effects. We should get a cat but I’m really allergic.

    We recently had a problem with moths. Turns out they were in the bird food in the garage and entered the kitchen through exhaust fan. Seemed like weeks before we finally got rid of them.

  13. We hardly have any bug issues here. We get some spiders in the house. Every few years we get some ants, but the baits take care of them pretty quickly.

  14. We used to have mice issues, then I started putting out food for the feral cats. Now I have feral cats, but no mice or snakes. I’m ok with the tradeoff.

    We have both skunks and a dog that can’t figure out that she shouldn’t play with skunks.

  15. Milo — Yes, mosquitoes are an unfortunate part of summertime life in New England. But as long as you have screens on your windows, they hardly ever get inside. Personally, I’d much rather live with mosquitoes outside than cockroaches and palmetto bugs inside.

  16. We used to have mice issues, then I started putting out food for the feral cats. Now I have feral cats, but no mice or snakes.

  17. “The baits do work as claimed, but the frustrating part is that they work best when you take no other action. Let them think they’ve hit the jackpot, feed the whole nest, bring the leftovers home in doggy bags, etc. If you start spraying the trails, or smashing the ones that you see, you’re messing up the whole plan.”

    Oh yeah. We learned that the hard way. But those Terro baits are awesome — now when we see the first line of ants going at the catfood, we just grab the baits and put them down, and two days later, no more ants.

  18. I didn’t try to plant any flowers because the deer ate my hibiscus plants. I have observed just one garden in my neighborhood – almost all houses have flowering shrubs but no flower beds.

  19. I am my family’s exterminator. The rest will point, shout and run off.

    I begin to see some leverage for you, Louise. Still wanting that new car? Explain to everyone that until new car is in the driveway, the cockroaches will be permanent residents.

  20. Colorado’s not too bad for pests. We get mice occasionally. They did a number on some stored camping equipment in the garage.

    In Santa Cruz it’s gophers. Those little bastiges just laugh at gopher cages. Sigh.

  21. We get bugs that fly in from outside when doors open. We have a weird bug that no one can catch. My towel snapping skills cannot compete with this fast guy. I’ve taken to giving him the wall behind the lamp he likes. A favorite summer past time is flicking the june bugs off the screen door. When they get in the house, I scoop them up and fling them outside. Since they’re beetles, I don’t mind picking them up.

    We had terminex come in when we first moved in because we had termites. Haven’t seen evidence of their damage in years, so we stopped that. Other than that, we get the occasional bugs, but nothing serious.

    Man, I saw some Palmetto bugs that were big enough to put a saddle on and ride. Blech.

    I, too, have a dog who doesn’t realize that you don’t play with the black cat with the white stripe down its back. She’s been sprayed twice in ~10 months (October and end of July). October was a glancing blow, and July was full on in her face. Dumba$$.

  22. Oh those cockroaches … horrible. The first time I visited Houston I found a huge palmetto bug on the wall of the shower. In a very nice hotel. My H’s introduction to west Texas bugs was one time we found a huge dead scorpion under our couch.

    A few years ago one of our dogs presented us with a dead baby raccoon. No one thought to save the dead critter so one family member who had handled it got rabies shots after a lukewarm recommendation from the county health department.

    Those Miller moths are annoying and can be very hard to eliminate. It took us months.

    Hands down the worst I’ve had to handle is the bedbug infestation. I still suffer from PTSD.

    Sometimes in the middle of the night I swear I’ve heard the pitter patter of tiny feet in the attic above our bed. Only once have we found mice up there, so I figure we have ghosts in the attic.

  23. Bedbugs – yeah those are awful to deal with. We had a close call a few years back. They were in my office, but luckily not my home.

  24. This post is giving me the heebie jeebies. I used to have nightmares about flying cockroaches.

  25. I’m so used to cockroaches at this point that they don’t bother me at all. They’re easy to squish. The snakes still freak me out, especially the copperheads. My youngest got into a fire ant nest last fall the day before school pictures and had a few enormous welts on her face so I don’t like those either.

    The bugs are less gross up north but my dad’s car up in Mass. got infested with mice last winter and they chewed through a bunch of wires causing $1000 worth of damage to his car. The insurance agency said they get a lot of claims for this every winter. Oh and the ticks, which I never even bother to check for down here, keep me constantly checking my kids up north.

  26. Umm, I hate to mention it but if you hear footsteps in the attic, there might be something there. For us, it was squirrels. (Also in one of our neighbors houses, where the squirrels began exploring the space in the walls too. Expensive to fix.).

    The Texas bug stories scare me. My irritant is clover mites. They are these teeny, tiny little bugs that I noticed when the boys socks started having little orangey-red stains. Once I knew they were there, it felt like there were millions on the back of my house and all the windows. I devised a nifty masking tape trap (they are so small the adhesive traps them) to keep them from leaving the infested area, just until the exterminator could get there. It became a yearly thing at the old house. I have seen them at this house too, but very lightly and not enough to get an extra exterminator visit. We are a quarterly customer.

    We have had a few mice in the house, completely as a result of having boys who left food or dishes in the basement. Thankfully they are terrified of mice so it has been a handy deterrent to keep things picked up.

  27. We discovered a couple of weeks after we bought our house that we had a rat problem in the attic. This did not come up in the inspection. The first exterminator refused the job…he had never seen rats that large. My husband set up some traps while we were trying to identify a second exterminator. We heard one of the traps snap during the night and the sound of galloping…no joke!…. It woke the kids up and they ran into our room terrified. We considered suing the family that sold us the house…the exterminators said that the rats had been living there for a couple of years. In the end we did not pursue. The exterminator ended up trapping 11 rats and then we had a company come out and do an extensive cleaning of the entire attic (they wore hazmat suits!) for about $10,000.

  28. “I really probably shouldn’t mention the coyotes then.”

    We’ve got coyotes. Are your coyotes coming for your feral cats?

    Our Totebaggy friends, the anesthesiologist and his wife, have tried to keep chickens (of course) and even a pot bellied pig. They all get killed. Foxes killed the chickens, I think.

  29. Are your coyotes coming for your feral cats?

    Yes….

    the cats deal with the mice and snakes,
    the coyotes deal with squirrels, rodents and feral cats
    the dogs and coyotes taunt each other at night

  30. Milo – around here the hawks will get the chickens too.

    We had rats in our old house too. I remember the exterminator telling us how smart they were and that the king rat sends out minions to eat any bait first to see if it’s poison. We only had a few but I remember it being about $1K to get rid of them.

    My sister who lives in Missouri had some bites on her arms and she couldn’t figure out what they were so she set out a bunch of sticky traps around the house and she caught a lot of brown recluse spiders (and under her daughter’s bed too). That wasn’t what had bitten her (it was chiggers in the garden) but she immediately had an exterminator come. This is a rental house so I told her she should really get the landlord to pay for that but I think the landlord is an acquaintance so she didn’t want to ask. Apparently brown recluses aren’t very aggressive and will crawl over you while you’re sleeping without biting and it’s only when they feel threatened that they bite. So thankfully no spider bites but she’s glad she discovered the spider infestation.

  31. “The first exterminator refused the job…he had never seen rats that large.”

    Ummm, wow.

    We had coyotes in ABQ, too. Which may be part of the reason adobe walls that fully enclose at least part of your property are popular there. :-)

    My all-time favorite creature from ABQ was the roadrunner. No cutesy little cartoon here — think miniature velociraptor with feathers. Seriously: I watched one on the hunt and said, “ok, of *course* birds evolved from dinosaurs.” That thing was bad-ass.

  32. ““The first exterminator refused the job…he had never seen rats that large.”

    Ummm, wow.”

    I”m guessing he’s never seen a NY sewer rat… I think I had dogs smaller than those.

    I’m in the minority… I want coyotes back. They would keep the skunk population under control. Now, those stinky buggers are the top of the food chain.

    We did have some bunnies in our yard this year – they had a nest in the ground. DH scared them (and they scared him) when he was mowing the lawn the other week. No bunnies were harmed.

  33. I’m in the minority… I want coyotes back. They would keep the skunk population under control. Now, those stinky buggers are the top of the food chain.

    I’m in favor of coyotes. They are protected on our place unless they attack a dog. We don’t have livestock and they are really good at varmint control We only have to deal with them about once a decade. I actually like to hear them singing at night.

  34. We get mice in the crawl space, once had a rat in the crawl space, suffer from yellow jackets in August but have almost no mosquitoes. Tiny ants wander into the kitchen thru the screen when we leave the window open a lot. Kids occasionally have gotten spider bites. We have a lot of bats which keep the insect population down and climate means insects breed slowly. We have garter snakes, too, which I don’t consider a pest as long as they’re outside.

    My big news this week is that our neighbor a couple hundred yards away spotted a cougar in the yard. The cougar been spotted elsewhere in our area (they cover a large range) so I warned the boys to try to scare, not run from, a cougar and will probably try to be outside with Baby WCE when she plays, since she looks like a small, slow-moving cougar snack. Our dog is probably at greatest risk since she spends the most time outside. So far, the cougar isn’t known to have attacked any pets or people. As long as it eats deer, etc., ODFW will let it be. ODFW says young male cougars need to find new territory and mostly, people and cougars can get along.

  35. WCE…if you have mountain lions, make sure your kids have a dog with them when they are outside. If the cougar is looking for territory in a suburban area, it is already somewhat habituated to people and little people look like prey. Twenty or so years ago, an adult jogger was killed and eaten in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Mountain lion attacks don’t generally get much news coverage outside the immediate area, but they have been increasing. Cougars tends to decimate the deer population fairly quickly and them go looking for other prey. Both Cal and Oregon Fish and Wildlife are political organizations and take their direction from the governors of their respective states. Neither Portland nor SF have much interest in reining in dangerous wildlife.

  36. Ugh, good timing because last weekend we had a bat in our house. Exterminators are getting them out of the attic.

    I’d rather deal with roaches :(

  37. Thanks, Pseudo, that’s good advice. It’s hard to know when I should be paranoid. If you look at a topo map, our dozen-house-street is exactly where I would expect a cougar to reside, near several wooded acres of a too-steep-for-development bluff along the Willamette and next to more wooden acres and farm fields.

  38. We have urban coyotes too. Their numbers are increasing in the city. I read that this is true in many urban areas because they are such rich environments for them with no predators. I’ve seen one near me & Next Door reports many sightings. The urban coyote project says that there are definitely territories in my dense neighborhood.

    I like the urban falcons better, myself.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/11/141121-coyotes-animals-science-chicago-cities-urban-nation/

    There was the cougar that was shot by animal control a few years ago too. (Ok, I realized it was 2008 when I searched for the article. That’s “a few years” to me in this context.)
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-04-15/news/0804140895_1_cougar-illinois-north-side

  39. WCE…cougars aren’t supposed to reside near people. They are large, dangerous predators. They can take down deer and horses and they have a hard time meeting their caloric needs with the type of wild prey animals that live around people. Cougar, wolf, bear…if they are in your neighborhood, there is a problem.

  40. Ivy,

    My only reaction about your cougar article is WTF. How were the police going to take a mountain lion into custody? They shot up someone’s house? What were they thinking?

  41. We have coyotes and bald eagles. Unfortunately they alone aren’t able to keep the bunny population in check.

    Ivy – I remember living in Chicago when a coyote walked into a Quizno’s downtown and took a seat in the drink cooler.

  42. We have a lot of bats but fortunately they’re all outside. I don’t mind them because they eat other bugs but sometimes when we’re out at dusk they fly very close to the house. We also have coyote and fox, so I always make sure someone is with our 14 lb dog if he goes out late at night. Our dog has been sprayed by a skunk, too. It was awful because it happened in our garage. The dog stank, our cars stank, and so did the MBR which is directly over the garage. A mixture of peroxide and dish detergent, applied over several days, got rid of the worst of the stink but he still smelled for weeks, especially if he got wet.

    I will think about putting out cat food since I don’t like snakes and maybe that will help with the mice. In the spring, an elementary aged kid was bit by a copperhead while on a school trip to an open space area a few miles from our house. Granted, he picked the snake up and it bit him but still!

  43. ” Cougar, wolf, bear…if they are in your neighborhood, there is a problem.”

    Ya – your neighborhood is in their territory….

    I know that’s not what you meant, Psuedo, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that sprawl has condensed their territories to the point where they reside with people.

  44. The only problem we ever had was mice. I remember walking into the kitchen one morning to find a mouse grabbing a piece of kibble out of the dog’s dish. It had a look of guilty panic on it’s little face. We sealed up some cracks and the problem went away.

    I did have a co-worker where, I can’t recall the specific details, but their house became infested with rats. I’d have to move. But, they were able to drive them out with the help of an exterminator.

  45. I know that’s not what you meant, Psuedo, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that sprawl has condensed their territories to the point where they reside with people.

    Yeah, no….my area has been inhabited by people of European/Asian descent for the last several hundred years, and by the indigenous people for several thousand. This isn’t a result of sprawl.

  46. ” sprawl has condensed their territories to the point where they reside with people.”

    Maybe for the cougar/wolf/bear. But I don’t know that’s always true. That’s what some people always liked to say about the deer, but then the prevailing theory became that low-density development, as opposed to total wilderness, actually attracts and promotes the deer population. Like me, deer prefer living on the edge of development and civilization, probably where much of the vegetation is softer and more palatable.

    And the deer population become too tempting for the coyotes and other predators, so then they move in.

  47. “Ivy – I remember living in Chicago when a coyote walked into a Quizno’s downtown and took a seat in the drink cooler.”

    YES!!! I remember that too.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-04-04/news/0704040747_1_coyote-anne-kent-bina-patel

    There was so much uproar about the police shooting at the cougar in the alley in broad daylight with kids around – it was a mess. Lemon, were you around for that one too?

    Did anyone watch the “Cities” episode of Planet Earth II? I would have liked to see even more. Some animals (like the urban coyotes and falcons near me) can adapt & thrive really easily in urban and/or suburban environments. I am also fascinated by the spiders that live on skyscrapers.

  48. I had already moved by the time the cougar came into town. I didn’t have facebook back then, so I never heard about it. Sounds like quite the shootout.

    When I worked on the 34th floor I was amazed at all the little creatures that clung to the outside of the windows.

  49. We have coyotes in our neighborhood as well. The get the domesticated cats, not just the feral ones.

  50. Groundhogs are a problem for us. They love to eat almost everything in our garden. I’ve heard that groundhogs are tasty, but we have not been brave enough to try it.
    Our neighbor stocked his pond with trout, but they were quickly eaten by a couple of otters. He had to get a special permit to trap the otters.

  51. Coyotes are in all 50 states. Our town’s Wildlife Ecologist has given many talks about them and how we should be hazing them and not following “ignore them and they will ignore you”. They don’t ignore you; they study us and figure out the cat or small dog is let out during this time, small humans tend to have food etc. They have a 5-10 mile range and they love neighborhoods because they offer food and good shelter. Coyotes only den when they have cubs otherwise they are roaming. The most “dangerous time” is when the juveniles are kicked out of the pack to fend for themselves. These are the ones taking the most risks and tend to be the ones’ going after pets.

    Most of the people that have gotten bitten in the last 30 years are attributed to people feeding them. They attack the human who isn’t feeding them because they think you should have food. So hazing them by yelling or rattling a can or having an air horn if they approach teaches them that they should avoid the humans.

  52. We had a bear a few months ago that showed up in a residential neighborhood a mile or two away from us. They were calling it the Buckhead Bear but it was only seen one day and then I’m sure it headed north. There are coyotes all over Cape Cod. We saw one trotting down my dad’s street last summer at dusk and my BIL came running over (he was staying at a rental across the street) to make sure we hadn’t let his basset hound that we were watching outdoors.

  53. My sister has a FB friend in Fairfax County who posted a photo of a black bear in their backyard pond. They are apparently an issue in places like Fairfax Station.

  54. “Umm, I hate to mention it but if you hear footsteps in the attic, there might be something there”

    We’ve checked and set traps, but only once have we caught mice. And we’ve found no traces of any other type of animal. It’s a kind of mystery. We did have someone die in our house so I’m open to the idea of a spirit of some kind. Or maybe I’m just hearing noises that originate outside.

    I’m fearful of squirrels in particular because of the costly damage they can cause. Once a squirrel came down into our chimney. We closed the fireplace glass door and put a couple of bricks in front to hold the door closed and keep it trapped in the chimney. But somehow the squirrel still broke through and ran through our house. We were able to chase it out the door with a broom.

    I like the sound of coyotes howling. We have coyotes around here but I’ve never spotted any. One was found in Central Park a few years ago.

  55. I grew up with roaches in NYC and the very occasional mouse. I only saw rats in the subway and parks. I moved 20 miles north and it is like living in a zoo. I just saw some kids chasing a wild turkey down our street when we got back from shopping earlier today. We see chipmunks and rabbits in/near our driveway this time of year, but they don’t tend to come inside. We keep our garage door closed, and I think we only had one squirrel in there when it was open all of the time during some construction. We have coyotes. It wasn’t an issue until this year when they really started to roam during the daylight hours, and they have eaten some dogs. One of my neighbors – a really big guy – walks his dog now with a golf club. We are over run with deer. It used to just be in the colder months when they were hungry, but they are every where. I see at least one per day, and sometimes more in the winter. I can’t stand them, and there is so much disease around here from ticks. It isn’t just the lyme, and they carry other nasty diseases that are transferred from some birds and field mice.

    We do have a lot of crickets that come in the when the weather changes. I hate them because they really can jump and they are ugly. We have plenty of spiders, and once in a while we have to deal with tiny ants inside if kids leave crumbs on my kitchen floor. I’ve become vigilant about ants. I will clean any of the floors or surfaces where I see the ants with Windex with vinegar. Ants hate vinegar. I will run chalk around the areas where I see them, and it tends to get rid of them within a few days. It is only in one area near where the windows are in my kitchen, but that is also where we have the table so there are sometimes crumbs if we have kids over.

    The most expensive and nastiest issue that we had to deal with was in May. A raccoon broke into the back of our house, and entered through a vent. She moved through the vents to the front of our house and had babies (!!!!) in a wall that is part of my garage and under my front door. Total nightmare that we didn’t even know about until we started to hear the babies. They would cry for the mother during the day. We had to hire animal control guys and they couldn’t locate the babies without cutting the wall in the garage and front hall. I still haven’t done the repairs because I had to have the vents cleaned and now I will deal with the walls in a major paint job in the fall.

  56. OMG, Lauren. In Westchester, no less. You’re like 20 miles from the biggest/best city in the world!!!

  57. We once had a raccoon coming in through our cat door and going down to the basement to help himself to the cat food. The cats just sat on the couch and watched him.

  58. Raccoons are smart and nasty. When we moved in, our neighbors explained that they were the last house in the city limits but if a raccoon needed to be shot (it’s illegal but…), the city limits temporarily moved in by a house, so we shouldn’t be alarmed if we heard a 0.22.

    Raccoon populations cycle and have been down here for a decade or so.

  59. It’s the best of the biggest, and, in a sense, the “biggest” in terms of significance.

    Measuring is imperfect. The “largest” in America, iirc, is Jacksonville, FL.

  60. My grad school was adopted by a family of golden groundhogs. They had a very pretty coat, and munched on whatever they could. The biggest one dug a huge hole in front of a heavily-used door. I envisioned them sitting in the shrubs, laughing at all the silly humans falling and twisting their ankles walking in/out of the building.

  61. Milo, if you sort by urban area population (which is the one least tied to municipal boundaries so seems like a good measure to me, and also is one that makes NYC look relatively larger), it’s the 8th biggest. Of course it’s the “biggest” in terms of significance in the US, but the US is not the whole world.

  62. At one point I thought skunks had invaded downtown Seattle – the stench was everywhere. My friend (after she contained her outburst of laughter) explained that there hadn’t be an increase of skunks – it was the legalization of pot. What can I say – I grew up in Vermont where if you smelled a skunk-like odor, it was because there was a skunk. I have come to despise the smell of pot.

  63. “We are over run with deer. It used to just be in the colder months when they were hungry, but they are every where.”

    Sounds like you could use some cougars.

  64. “a palmetto bug crawling out of an open bag of chips. I screamed and ran into my bedroom closet. This is when I realized that food storage in the South has different needs from up north.”

    Bugs are not the main reason I get irritated when someone leaves a bag of chips open. It doesn’t take long– maybe 30 or 40 minutes, depending on what kind of chips– for the chips to start getting soggy.

    When I first went to SV, I was surprised at how a bowl of chips was still crispy several hours later.

  65. So I just got an e-mail from Amazon saying they can’t vouch for the 5-pack of eclipse glasses they sold me and if I use them I could go blind. I just tested them out and you can barely see the sun through them so I can’t conceive of how they could be dangerous. Thoughts?

  66. There’s an undeveloped gulch near our house, and we often hear feral pigs moving around there. Every now and then one of them will make its way through someone’s and trot up and down the street.

  67. “a palmetto bug crawling out of an open bag of chips.

    That reminds me of last year when we were at the beach and a seagull walked up to a lady and grabbed the sandwich right out of her hand.

  68. We have animals of various sorts wherever there is open green space, and there is a lot of it in Boston and in the inner ring towns. Raccoons, ‘possums, woodchucks, birds of prey, mice, rats, squirrels are common, plus “feral” bunnies descended from pets, indoor outdoor cats, Canada geese which are pests, swans and ducks too on the rivers and ponds. My town is just on the city side edge of deer and coyote country – the deer are pretty much up and over the hill from me, and the coyotes do come down occasionally to thin out the cat and bunny population. No feral cat colonies nearby – the weather takes care all but the hardiest colonies that are trap neuter returned and fed during the winter. In the next town’s open land and the homes that abut it there are lots of chipmunks, wild turkeys, as well as the deer. Termites are not a common problem – carpenter ants are worse.

    The worst bugs I ever saw were the gypsy moths in the spring of 1980. We were temporarily in a 2 acre zoned suburb then. Never again.

  69. “any vermin-fighting tips?”

    A smooth glass jar is great for killing ants, especially the small black ones. Those often can survive attempts to squish them with thumbs, fingers, slippers, etc., but if they’re on a moderately hard surface (e.g., vinyl flooring is hard enough), just roll the jar over them and they’re dead. If you have an infestation, you can kill literally hundreds of them this way in a couple of minutes.

    It it’s quiet, you might even be able to hear the popping sounds as you kill the ants.

  70. Do ants communicate with each other? I’ve noticed that when there are a bunch of them in a small area, if I squish one of them, the others immediately start taking evasive action. All the more reason for the glass jar approach; you can kill a bunch of them close together before they can get out of reach.

  71. Giant tree roaches come in when its about to rain…I use them as a barometer to predict a storm. I also usually have a “house lizard” who has snuck in, which is OK since they are supposed to eat bugs, but I usually find a one (alive or dead) when cleaning. I have a friend in So. Fl. who has racoons that regularly bathe and swim in her pool. She has platform for sunbathing (with ~1-2 inches of water) that is perfect for them. She has given up trying to do anything about it.

  72. We frequently see coyotes in our neighborhood. There is a drainage channel that runs through our neighborhood to the ocean. Further upstream there is a navy base and the coyotes enter from there. We had one coyote that we frequently saw sunning himself on our neighbors lawn. It turned out that another elderly neighbor was feeding a family of coyotes and they were living in his backyard. The coyotes we see are not at all afraid of people or cars and can be difficult to scare them off.

  73. No cougars yet, but there are bears in northern Westchester. There were a lot of raccoons in the city. They love the garbage cans outside of apartment buildings. They can free load.

    The most raccoons we ever saw were in Florida. At the Club Med that is north of Palm Beach. They would shimmy up the palm trees and come down for food.

    We liked the resort, but DD wasn’t so interested in going back because there were so many raccoons.

  74. I have come to despise the smell of pot.

    There’s a reason they call it skunkweed.

  75. Rhett – a school system in the metro Atlanta area had the same thing happen to them – they had ordered 20,000 of them for the kids and got their money back but I’m guessing they won’t use them for liability reasons.

  76. Late to this post. “Sigh” I hate, hate roaches. Unfortunately, roaches love, love my house. I am on a first name basis with my pest control person. This is quite typical for my city, it seems.

    Just got back from dropping off DS at college. I was gone 24 hours. I come back to 4 dead and 1 live roach in the house. Ick.

  77. I started to watch The War:Ken Burns documentary and I am liking it. It is told from the American perspective and homefront (and the war in the Pacific) which gets sort of buried given the war in Europe.

  78. IDK, Rhett. DW looked into that a while ago, and, along with many others, anticipated that issue, apparently before Amazon did. I’ve read, I can’t tell if it’s scaremongering or legitimate fears, but there do seem to be a lot of counterfeit vendors who are falsely putting whatever certification stickers on their products.

    This could potentially be a big issue for Amazon afterward. It displays their major weakness compared to Walmart and other more traditional stores that they make almost no effort to verify the quality of their products. Usually, the review system, and the subsequent “Invisible Hand of the Market,” plus a generous return policy, sort it out for them, but the market for solar eclipse glasses is immune to that.

  79. We have lots of animals around. Large groundhog in the yard (very cute! we don’t have a garden for him to eat), a family of skunks behind the compost (not so cute), bunnies, turkeys, and the occasional fox. Also large hawks, but those are up in the trees and hard to see.

    The mice are a problem in the house – we have confined them to the basement (I think) but they are still there. Ideally we would spend $50K or so to waterproof the foundation and plug all the cracks, and remove the basement insulation and fix the walls/ceiling, but that is a ways off.

  80. “There’s an undeveloped gulch near our house, and we often hear feral pigs moving around there. Every now and then one of them will make its way through someone’s and trot up and down the street.”

    “When we moved in, our neighbors explained that they were the last house in the city limits but if a raccoon needed to be shot (it’s illegal but…), the city limits temporarily moved in by a house, so we shouldn’t be alarmed if we heard a 0.22.”

    During our first trip to Italy, we had sent the kids to bed and were relaxing downstairs when we heard very loud music coming from the farmer’s field below, followed by what sure sounded like gunshots. Major “wtf?!?!” moment, so we ran around shutting all the doors and windows (it’s one of these places with the wide open windows that you close off with bolted shutters at night) and called the guy we rented from. His answer: “oh, yeah, that’s just the farmer next door, he’s hunting wild boar, he does that occasionally.” Basically, he’d take his tractor, put big lights on the top (like the pickup truck hunting lights), play really loud music, and drive it up and down the field to flush the boar. Fun times!

    Re: cougars: I have a fear of cougars that I am not quite sure is rational or irrational. The original incident referred to in this article happened when I was in CO — https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.true-crime/VlPYnE94jkM. At the time, the most likely theory was a cougar attack, and (a) we had just been rafting very close to that area, and (b) I was pregnant for the first time. It absolutely hit the parental fear nerve, and I have not been able to get over that fear, at least completely.

  81. In the home country in some places monkeys are a menace. People start to feed them but then they demand food and become aggressive. When I was young, there would be hue and cry in my neighborhood because someone’s pet monkey got loose and was jumping around the place. People were very afraid that their little kids would be carried off by the monkey. As the years passed and the city grew denser we stopped having such incidents.

  82. Congrats, Houston! All go well?

    Randomness:
    (1) around here I see “private road” signs affixed to some/a few street posts. I then look to see if there are mailboxes lining the street and almost always there are. I learned way back in 9th grade Intro to Business that if the post office had the right of way to deliver mail on the street that it was a public thoroughfare. Attorneys, any idea if this (still) holds true?
    (2) anybody, or a family member, use the Harry’s Shave Club razors? Thoughts? I bit on their opening trial offer (handle, blade, cream shave lotion “for only the delivery cost of $3”) and had to sign up for the initial restock of 8 blades. Why did I bite? For years I have used the cheapo triple blade throw aways BJs (Costco/Sam’s ~equivalent warehouse store) sells and the last time I bought them I noticed the blade structure is changed and the shave isn’t as good.

    We see deer, usually 3-5, walking thru our yard around sunset most days between snow seasons, so roughly April-November. They eat some quite literal low hanging fruit off my apple trees. Like Scarlett, we get/see stinkbugs in spring (as they move to go outside since it’s now warm enough) and fall (when it gets too cold for them to remain outside). The exterminator explained they just want a place to lodge during the winter but they don’t lay eggs indoors. I’m not so sure about that, but I’ve never found large groups anywhere. Since we began having the exterior base of the house treated by the pest control company 3x/yr a few years ago the # of insects indoors has gone way down. Depending on how cold / how snowy the winter is, we’ll get some small mice in the basement. We use PB as bait in the traps. The most I think we’ve gotten (trapped) in a winter was 5, then I think the message gets out to try another place.

  83. This could potentially be a big issue for Amazon afterward. It displays their major weakness compared to Walmart and other more traditional stores that they make almost no effort to verify the quality of their products. Usually, the review system, and the subsequent “Invisible Hand of the Market,” plus a generous return policy, sort it out for them, but the market for solar eclipse glasses is immune to that.

    The big difference is that a lot of items sold on Amazaon are sold by third parties, not by Amazon. So if a third party seller sold “fake” eclipse glasses, is that Amazon’s responsibility? I would say it’s no different than buying something off of ebay – ebay isn’t responsible for the quality of things sold there, IMO, so I don’t think Amazon should be liable for items sold by third parties. If the glasses were sold by Amazon itself, then it has a responsibility to verify they are safe. Of course the lawyers here can explain to me why I’m wrong :)

  84. Denver – I agree with you, but I don’t think that a lot of Amazon’s customers appreciate the distinction, and they might be seriously pi$$ed off to find out. Amazon might be correct, but the PR could be devastating nonetheless.

  85. The big difference is that a lot of items sold on Amazaon are sold by third parties, not by Amazon.

    Is there a button I can push to not see anything that isn’t fulfilled by Amazon? I’ve never had any problem with Amazon products but buying from random sellers has been fraught with issues.

  86. Milo – are you driving down to SC to view the eclipse. They are expecting lots of traffic.

  87. Is there a button I can push to not see anything that isn’t fulfilled by Amazon? I’ve never had any problem with Amazon products but buying from random sellers has been fraught with issues.

    I don’t think so. You can select to see only items that have Prime shipping, but even some of those are from third-parties.

  88. we are driving to Atlanta area to visit some kinfolk for the weekend. Monday morning we’re starting home, and we’ll see the eclipse from wherever. one possibility is the home congressional district of President Frank Underwood in Gaffney, SC. :)

    But there was some festival that DW had found, maybe in northern GA. But then maybe the tickets were all sold out. So we’re not quite sure. We’re going to end up in Asheville Monday night, and Tuesday morning we have our tickets to tour the Biltmore. We’ll drive home Tuesday evening. Then I’ll work two days next week.

  89. They are expecting huge traffic jams out here from all the people driving to Wyoming and Nebraska. I loved this article about Alliance, NE, home of Carhenge:

    http://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/11/solar-eclipse-path-of-totality-carhenge/

    My favorite part is where they aren’t sure if they should cancel school or not:

    “On one hand, teachers envision “a teachable moment” and want to avoid having students sit in basements watching eclipse videos on websites. On the other, western Nebraska is a courteous place where kids crossing streets aren’t used to aggressive drivers from cities.”

  90. @Rhett –

    Yes – you can filter by seller. That’s when you realize that Amazon is more of a middleman than a full store, although they do the fulfillment for a lot of those sellers. I try to avoid 3rd party sellers when I can – the return process can be a real PITA as well.

    I also think that this is the main drawback of Amazon. I haven’t always had great luck with their customer service either. I tend to buy pretty low-risk things from Amazon for this reason.

  91. @DD – that’s funny.

    We will only be partial here, but I have some glasses & will go outside with the team to take a peek. The height of it here is around 1:20pm.

  92. They are expecting huge traffic jams out here from all the people driving to Wyoming and Nebraska

    Right? I went from thinking that maybe I’d drive up towards Wyoming to thinking that I’d shelter in place in the basement. I have California friends who are coming into Denver on Saturday and then are going with some group in a bus up to Wyoming. The bus leaves at 3:30am. The teenage daughters in the family were distinctly unthrilled at this news.

  93. I have no glasses, but will probably construct a pinhole viewer for work (we have all the tools necessary in our recycling bin!). I am constructing one for my mom out of a diaper box so she can take the boys outside to view the eclipse.

    I think the height will be around 2:45pm local time.

  94. I also think that this is the main drawback of Amazon. I haven’t always had great luck with their customer service either. I tend to buy pretty low-risk things from Amazon for this reason.

    I’ve always had great service from them, even with handling issues with third-party sellers.

  95. Interesting about Amazon 3rd party sellers. In looking at my past orders it appears that well over half are from 3rd party sellers. Offhand I can’t tell which are fulfilled by Amazon. Is there a difference? I just returned a couple of shoe orders from 3rd party sellers and had no problem at all. In fact, I received an email from them asking for more details on the reason for the return.

    Overall I’ve had great customer service from Amazon. Which makes me nervous that I’m jinxing myself by writing all this …

  96. “At one point I thought skunks had invaded downtown Seattle – the stench was everywhere. My friend (after she contained her outburst of laughter) explained that there hadn’t be an increase of skunks – it was the legalization of pot.”

    Me too! (and its not legal in NY) Oh how naïve we are. It really does seem to be everywhere these days.

  97. I buy used books all the time from third parties on Amazon. Those take a long time to get here, but they are cheaper than Kindle, and on the cruise ship I rediscovered my love of paper and ink as we scoured the library shelves for quiet reading. As for “fulfillment by Amazon” versus “sold by Amazon”, I don’t find that an important distinction. It gets here quickly and Amazon stands by the product. However, “third party sellers” often mean direct shipped from the warehouse in China or Thailand or sometimes from Canada or Mexico, so you have to check the delivery date – anything a few weeks out is a tip off. Sometimes it is just from a US company that if you go directly to their website sells it for the same price or better, but Amazon is a convenient clearing house. The seller that is primarily a clearing house that I will NOT use is overstock.com or whatever it is called now.

  98. Fred – I saw those Harry’s razors on FB and was considering getting them for myself. Ladies’ razors are often more expensive and I don’t see the point. I’ve been using Gillette Mach 3 for years. Let me know if you like Harry’s.

  99. Thanks Fred! All went smoothly. DH and I are a little melancholy, but not too emotional about DS moving out. It helps that things are super busy right now, both at work and at home. DS2’s school starts on Monday.

  100. July, the main difference is with third party sellers, you are subject to their return policies rather than Amazon’s. Fulfilled by Amazon means it is shipped from an Amazon warehouse so you can usually get prime shipping if you are a prime member.

  101. Fred, DS gets his razor blades from some online discounter. Not sure but it might be the same one you are considering. He loves it.

    I buy way too much stuff from Amazon (just today, I was notified that Amazon Prime has saved me 80 trips to the store so far this year) but have rarely had issues with any sellers. I did order some out of print books last month, and when they failed to arrive despite having been shipped weeks before, I contacted the seller and got a prompt refund.

    Although I rely heavily on reviews, I hardly ever post them, even when politely hounded by the seller with emails reading “How did you like your widgets?” but there is some guilt associated with being a free rider.

  102. The vast majority of my Amazon orders are Prime so although they’re 3rd party sellers they must be fulfilled by Amazon. Occasionally I’ll buy something shipping directly from China.

    Scarlett, I feel guilty too about not giving more reviews since I heavily rely on them in making purchase decisions. I use the photos and videos a lot, along with the Q&As. In a way I’ve become handicapped by all that feedback. I’ve found myself in a brick and mortar store but checking Amazon for reviews before I buy an item.

  103. “there is some guilt associated with being a free rider”

    I do not view what you’re doing as free-riding. Before e-commerce, we all just went to the store and bought our new widget. If we liked it, we might recommend (or pan) it in conversation to someone else. But there was never any obligation to do so. I look at it the same way with e.g. Amazon, TripAdvisor, etc. Others may have voluntarily given their opinions (obv excludes paid shills) that I might have considered in my purchase decision, but I don’t feel there is a social contract aspect which obligates me to offer a review. Nice to do? Sure.

  104. I NEVER do reviews. I figure I do enough uncompensated writing of my opinions here, whether you like it or not.

    A couple times I’ve even responded to one of those sellers’ emails and basically said “It’s OK, but it’s not great, and I don’t like X, Y, and Z about it. That could have been designed better” (specifically thinking of the stand that displays my iPad on my spin cycle. THey realize that they don’t want to encourage me to write a review at that point.

  105. Brady is not likeable. ( I like Peyton even less, but that is mostly about the love affair the rest of the country has with him and how he skated on the early career sexual stuff and the late career PEDs. ) Unlike public office, being likeable is not a requirement of getting or keeping his job. However, he is respected by his peers, and his teammates are in awe of his abilities, football intelligence, work ethic. He only has a few friends on the team from over the years, and they are not necessarily big names. I have no number 12 merchandise. The jerseys we have are an old Sam Gash one and a throwback John Hannah.

  106. One of our credit cards has a service that allows us to generate CC numbers different than the number on the actual card, and specify credit limits and expiration dates (one to twelve months out) for each of those numbers. Each number is only good at one merchant.

    When we’ve generated numbers to pay for Amazon orders, very often we’d get followup emails saying the CC numbers were rejected for certain items of our order. It became pretty clear to us that was because those items were being sold by third parties, not Amazon.

    That happened so much that we finally gave in and gave Amazon the number that actually appears on one of our cards, and we’ve not had the problem since.

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