Saturday, November 13, 2010
Living In Malaysia: Giant Man-Eating Insects
With my customary bravery when faced with Giant Man-Eating Insect Attacks I screamed and ducked out of the way. Olympic athlete gold medal winners couldn’t have beaten me for speed. Luckily Au came to the rescue.
With an almighty leap he launched into the air, smashing the invading monster to the ground with a devastating lob. Finishing the beast off was a matter of moments.
While I disposed of the carcass, Au retired triumphantly to the kitchen to await his rightful reward from the cold cuts shelf in the refrigerator. He’s a cat who is strict about prompt payment for services rendered.
You may have gathered that I loathe cockroaches. The way they manage to flatten themselves into the tiniest cracks when they see a threatening movement may be admirable to a biologist, but it gives me the creeps. Even the fact that they can live without a head for up to a month doesn’t impress me favourably.
Cockroaches are everywhere in Malaysia. They thrive in the tropics, plus people here dump food and waste in storm drains which attracts them. I don’t get them in the house – I think! – but having one from outside trying to fly in creeps me out.
Problem is that I live with two cats and I’m further handicapped by a sense of environmental conscience. If I put poison down, the cats may touch it with their paws, later ingesting the poison when they wash themselves. If I spray a wall or area where cat’s paw will not come into contact with the residue I worry about the fact that these poisons kill everything they come into contact with, including the useful spider and the delightful chitchat. How can you get rid of unwanted wildlife in the house safely and responsibly?
My neighbour Norin recommends a traditional Malay remedy: dried chillies. This struck a bell. In aromatherapy and herbal use bibles, you’ll often find references to black pepper, chillies, ginger and paprika containing “capsaicin”, a compound that acts as a type of insect stink bomb.
And if it doesn’t work, I’ll get Au to stomp on them.
PS the pic is from Wikicommons