Right now I'm living through a pretty shitty termite infestation. Except I don't mean shitty for me, but rather that it really is a shitty infestation. As in truly pathetic. Imagine if the insurgency in Iraq consisted solely of throwing smelly gym socks and keying the occasional Hummer, and you'll have some idea of what I'm dealing with.
But let me back up a bit.
In the fall of 2002, a few months after I moved into my current apartment, swarming termites showed up in my bathroom and kitchen. Individually, they were no smarter than any of the present offenders, but there were so many of them popping in on a regular basis that they quickly became a genuine nuisance. I'll be honest: at that point, I was sort of scared of them. They can't bite you or give you any kind of disease that I'm aware of, but nonetheless. Eventually they were either exterminated or just went away on their own, and I didn't hear from them for quite a while.
Then last year, there was a brief incident which I partially chronicled in the Unemployment Blog. I was prepared for a full-scale war and even brought in a specially selected army of one, but the conflict ended up being over before it began, with the termites beating a hasty retreat within a few days. I think Stuart (i.e., the army) just scared the hell out of them, even though he never ate a single one. (Apparently, sometimes shock and awe does work.)
Which brings us up to just about present day. The termites are back! Sort of. Not really. A little. This time they're choosing to squeeze in under the sliding glass patio door, wander around on that part of the floor, and await their death. Which, it should be said, is really all this kind of termite is capable of. And fighting them is insanely easy. We're talking about a bug so stupid that it doesn't even move out of the way when you're about to smack it with a rolled-up magazine. You're all set as long as you don't try to be all smart about it and kill a whole bunch at once by spraying some 409 on them. (No, 409 doesn't turn out to be some mutating agent that turns them into Buick-sized monsters, although that would be kind of cool. It's just that they're attracted to moisture, and therefore spraying some liquid in the area where they're gathering just brings more of them.)
So once in a while (maybe once a week, maybe not -- they're not really on a schedule) I'll see one on the floor, kill it, dispose of the corpse, and continue about my business. Yes, they still have the power to freak out certain people, but not me. I saw one on my shirt last night (not even crawling up it, just sitting there, because like I said, stupid), and I didn't even flinch, just flicked it off and smashed it with a tissue.
I think someone needs to remind them of why they're called swarming termites. Swarming. Two or three meandering around: not a swarm. Anyway, this is what the war has come to; I'm sure the spirit of Sun Tzu is cringing at the thought of it.