Termites. TERMITES... Seriously.

Monday, March 23

I want to go ahead and fill you in on this whole story. This way, if it ever happens to you... well, just hope it doesn't.

Boyfriend and I were in the apartment all weekend. We're not really lame, or anything, but kind of. There was basketball... Entourage on DVD... knitting... card games... it was splendid. I really only left to go tutor.

All weekend-- fun. No bugs.

Woke up this morning. After only ONE "Sarah... wake up now if you want to go running..." from the boyfriend, we actually made our jog. On a Monday! We woke up in time to jog! I know.

Boyfriend showers while I make coffee, we kiss goodbye in the kitchen (love that!), he leaves for work and I sit in the living room with caffeine to finish my Web design project.

About an hour later I get up for a coffee refill. Web design ideas floating in my head, empty mug in hand, I meander to the kitchen-- but stop dead.

The floor is moving. The freaking kitchen floor is moving.

Ok, so it's not moving moving. But there are at least 10 little, ant-sized bugs on the floor. I try not to freak out, but I do let out a tiny squeak. EEK!

Bugs. BUGS?!?! WE NEVER HAVE BUGS IN OUR APARTMENT! We're very clean people!

Now, I'm still in my jogging clothes and my running shoes are lying lazily next to the couch in the living room. So, I talk to myself. I'm sure those ants were just on your shoes. You're a big girl. Wipe them up, put the shoes outside and re-fill the coffee cup.

So I do, letting out little squeaks as I wipe the little ant-sized meanies into their paper towel of death. I flush them, do a little dance-of-disgust as I wash my hands, and then go into the bedroom to find my phone. I have to call Matt and tell him this-- how weird!

I find my phone on the bedside table, start to dial his number and head back into the kitchen to retrieve coffee.

There are still bugs on the floor.

I let out another squeak. But I wiped all of you up! I whine to the remaining bugs. They keep crawling. Really squeaking now, I rush into our master bathroom so I can look in the mirror --seeing bugs makes me feel like there are bugs on me!! -- but I don't make it. As I turn on the bathroom light, I see-- to my ABSOLUTE horror.

More Ant-sized bugs. This time, all over the bathroom floor.

Phone still in hand, I rush back towards the kitchen. I don't walk through bug-land, instead going around the kitchen to the carpeted dining room. There are no bugs on the carpet-- just on the kitchen and in the bathroom.

WHAT?!?! We never have bugs in our apartment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am obsessed with vacuuming-- Matt even got me a vacuum for CHRISTMAS I like it so much!!!!!

Finally, I call Matt. I pace while the phone rings. Voicemail.

BEEP-- "Uh, high babe-- it's me. Can-uh... can you-um... can you call me back. Now? I'm not dying or anything, just... just, like, call me back."

Freaking out, I resort to talking to myself again. So you missed a couple ants. And they were on Matt's shoes too, that's why there in the bathroom. And... if you just get them now it'll be over with. It's not like Matt can come home to wipe up ants. You can do it. And if you do, you can have more coffee.

So I tip-toe back towards the kitchen. But I don't get more coffee. I don't even move...

'cause there are more bugs. In the kitchen. After I just wiped them all up. They're back. WHERE ARE YOU COMING FROM?!?! I scream at the newly arrived ants. They continue crawling on the floor in response as I stand frozen and breathless in indecision. Luckily, Matt calls.

Now, I don't know about you, but sometimes when I'm upset and I try to explain why I'm upset, it makes me cry. So my explanation goes something like this:

I... babe... I don't know. They just appeared but now there everywhere [pacing] and... I don't... I tried to wipe them up! I got -- uhh-- I got like 10 of them. [Deep breath] but, um, they came back, and now there's more, and I don't like buggggss--- [kind of wimpering now] and they're in our bathroom too and [Eyes begin watering with tears as I walk towards the bathroom]... and-- OH! oh -no -ohnoohnoohno babe-- [crying full-on now] thhheeeyyy'rree ooonnn tthheee caaarrrpppeeeettt!! [Between sobs] Theyy're-- gonnnnaa-- crrawwwll-- innntoo-- ouuurr-- beeeddd!!!!

Matt convinces me to go to our apartment's office. I sprint there (good thing I still had the running clothes on) and explain, in a similar sobbing way, what's happening. I add-- "I sw-sw-sweeaarr we're [hicciup] reallll-reallly cleaan p-p-people [hiccup]."

The apartment office lady looks at me with slight disbelief (I am in jogging clothes-- she thinks I'm a mess, I suppose) and repeatedly asks, "Hun, you didn't see no bugs allllll weekend? Are you suuuuree?" as if I'm going to suddenly say, "Actually yes, now that you've asked me that question 15 times I do remember seeing crazy ant-sized bugs all over the place. Thanks for helping me clear that up."

She sends a "Super" with me to check it out. He looks warily at my tears as if to say-- lady, I can handle bugs, but a crying 22-year-old girl 'aint in my job description. I go with him to unlock the door and let out little sqeaks as he pulls out our fridge, dishwasher, air filters-- everything. He even pulls up a little carpet.

Still, most of the bugs are just on the kitchen. Nothing the super overturns reveals a large group. It's like they just came up from the ground...

I watch from a safe distance away from the kitchen-- but the little bugs have started exploring a little carpet now. I decide to act, and hurridly put everything touching our bedroom floor (laundry baskets, bed skirt) onto the bed. While I'm doing this, the "Super" begins shouting out ridiculous ideas from the kitchen.

"You thrown away lots a rotten food lately?"
Me-- no.

"Hm. You tried to move your fridge around lately?"
Me-- no.

"You unplug the fridge?"
Me-- no.

"Hmph. You guys try to replace this here carpet by yourselves?"
Me-- ...no, we're just renting, so we don't really mind the carpet.

"Yeah... well what about animals. Y'all hidin' a pet? Could be the pet's fleas..."
Me-- we don't have a pet.
"Cause if you do, I aint gonna tell the office, it'll just help me figure out what these bugs are"
Me-- No, I promise, we're not hiding a pet.
"You sure, hun?"
Me-- Scouts honor, sir.
"Well alright..." [He's not sure if he believes me]

"You spill somethin' down here on the floor?"
Me-- oh, just a little sugar water to attract bugs, right before I opened all the windows to let bugs in. Why, you think that's it?"

At this point I'm less upset and more pissed. Why me? Why my apartment? Suddenly, the super appears in the doorway to my bedroom.

"Hey... uh... you heard from your neighbor lately?"
Me-- "Um.. no, but we've never actually met him, so if he's had bugs I doubt he'd tell us."
Super-- "Right, right... well, uh, have you HEARD him, though? Like, heard him movin around?"
Me-- [Confused] "He's pretty quiet... but why..."

Sudden Realization:: The super is so confused by my bugs, he think maybe my neighbor has died next door and that's what's bringing the bug crowd.


He goes to investigate by knocking on the neighbors door while I take some clothes to my car and begin loading up school stuff so I can study somewhere bug-free. Before packing up my computer, I do a quick search and come up with an obvious answer: termites.

Termites are small, ant-sized, and have wings but don't fly. They come in "swarms" (or sudden, large groups) when it gets warm and they're in search for more "food" (or, wood). A sudden swarm of termites doesn't mean your house is dirty or vacuum-neglected: it means there are termites in the foundation.

I tell the Super this, but he shakes his head.

"These look more like carpet beatles to me," says the guy who a second before believed my bugs to be corpse-eating beatles. "Plus, termites are much harder to deal with," he adds. "You'd be better off hopin' these here were roaches."

Gross. I excuse myself and head back up to the apartment office. I tell them what I've found on the internet, but I receive a similar response.

"Hun, we don't want termites. Our exterminator is on her way as we speak," says the office woman confidently. "She deals with everything BUT termites. If it was termites... well, hun, we'd have to get a specialist out here. That would be a much bigger problem... Plus, the super thinks they're carpet beatles. That happens a lot. Have you guys been vacuumin'?"

So, of course, two hours later they call-- the exterminator has "reviewed the situation" and--wait for it!-- thinks that we have termites. They're going to get back to me and let me know what they plan to do. For tonight, if we want, we can stay in the "hotel," which is a spare, furnished apartment they keep on hand for these kind of "situations."

"But we're gonna try to have this taken care of today sweetie. Plus, most the bugs seem to have gone away now," the woman says.

...because it's a swarm. Because the termites were looking for food. And now they've gone back home to tell their termite friends what they've found. That doesn't mean they're gone...


I knew that the first couple years of being an adult would be full of "new" lessons-- life experiences, both up and down, that would make me miss childhood and turn slightly more sarcastic. I did not, however, think that I would experience so many this very first year of being "on my own."

For now-- who knows. I guess there always is an upside. The bugs weren't there because of vacuuming or a dead neighbor, and that's always a good thing.


Ace on March 23, 2009 at 5:05 PM said...

Ew, ew, ew! I know exactly what you mean. We had termites in our first house, I think when we only had 1 kid. Or maybe the twins were babies, but it was a long time ago. There was nothing that morning and when we came home from church the kitchen floor was moving! There had to be hundreds. I looked like even more than that! I wouldn't even walk farther into the house. I had hubs grab us all some clothes and we went to my parents house for the night. Disgusting!

Stephanie on March 23, 2009 at 5:36 PM said...

1. That is so all my boyfriend and I do all weekend. Literally the same thing.

2. I am exactly the same way about bugs so much so that the boyfriend has yelled at me to stop crying about them and shrieking when I see them because it scares him. Apparently my screaming makes him think there is seriously something wrong. I say there is, there are bugs.

3. OMG OMG OMG. That is horrible. I hope they figure out how to get them all out of there soon.

Sarah on March 23, 2009 at 6:24 PM said...

UGH! Oh, I know exactly how you feel. We had an ant swarm in our house last summer... I came home from work, came into the kitchen to make supper, and egads - there were THOUSANDS of them swarming on my kitchen counter, on the walls, inside the cupboards... it was awful! They were after my container of honey, the lid of which was slighty open. We had to get an exterminator, too.

Eeww, eww bugs! Gross.

Anonymous said...

Oh no. Get them out of there ASAP! Don't want to alarm anyone, but...a friend of ours had part of his ceiling randomly collapse on him at night, while he was sleeping. His sheets and body were covered with debris, grown folk termites and termite babies!!!! Ack!!!! It's hard not to stress, but at least you found it fairly early, so they can get rid of the problem. Oh man.

Donna-FFW on March 24, 2009 at 1:04 AM said...

Scary! I think you handled it quite well, Iveheard swarms are a sight to see. We ordered mulch once and along with the mulch came the termites.. Dreadful, but with an exterminator a cinch to get rid of.. take the warranty they will offer you.

Susie on March 24, 2009 at 5:52 AM said...

I know it stinks to have bugs but the upside is you're a renter and you don't own a termite infested house. In situations like this you gotta be have a "glass half full" outlook on it. Good luck and keep your shoes on!

Rebecca on March 24, 2009 at 8:46 AM said...

You get total kudos for not throwing a hysterical crying fit the minute you saw them, and for managing to figure out what you had before the "professionals."

I'm totally with Susie on this one, you're renting so it's someone else's job to sort this all out. Pain and gross it might be, but at least you're not paying for it too.

LiLu on March 24, 2009 at 9:15 AM said...

EWWWWWWWWWWW I feel so bad for you! We had cockroaches in college though... I maintain that's worse. One night I was laying in bed and there was a 2 incher ON THE CEILING ABOVE MY HEAD. I've never screamed so loud in my life.

jeremyandgirls on March 24, 2009 at 2:49 PM said...

My feet are itching right now. I'm totally grossed out. Have fun in the "hotel".

Melanie on March 25, 2009 at 3:29 PM said...

Yikes! What a funny and terrifying story. The worst I've had is a house centipede (google it to be really grossed out). It crawled out of my bathroom drain when I turned the water on--you'd better believe I was standing as far away from the drain as possible while showering for a long time!

stephchows on March 26, 2009 at 4:23 PM said...

Ugggggg. I had a very similar freak out run around situation in my last apartment, except it was a mouse, and our "illegal" cats had found it and were playing with it.... yeahhh lucky me I was the only one home and had to deal with it. BLEH!!! I was very happy to have the cats help though :D

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