Wednesday, December 21, 2011

La Cucaracha

The battle has begun.
Somehow, writing it in Spanish while humming this famous tune makes it seem less threatening (go on, open a new window and let that play in the background while you read this, you know you want to). I mean, the fact that someone would make a plucky and up-beat Mariachi song about a cockroach (you did know that that is what that means, right?) which is (ironically) often played in Mexican cantinas somehow makes what I am about to type less disgusting...

Who am I kidding? No, it doesn't.

I think I saw a cockroach the other night.

Actually, after a morning of desperate "Say it ain't so!" interneting on the subject - I am sure I did.

On our boat.

There it is.

Now that I have gone and admitted that, please don't hate us and think we are disgusting people, because I assure you - we are not! "But only dirty people have cockroaches, Brittany" you might say and yes, up until now, I would have agreed with you. However, now I am singing a different tune. Now, to you I'd say "I'll let my OCD take on your OCD any day!" Bring it. Seriously. When it comes to being clean, I would be in the "anal" category.  Our boat is immaculate and pretty much anyone who comes aboard takes note of it. You know my favorite aisle in the grocery store? Yeah, the cleaning products. I love me a good "all purpose" cleaner and our head actually smells good. This is the truth people.

I have read a lot about cockroaches on boats (namely how to keep them off) and have been following all the rules to keep these beasts at bay; we don’t allow cardboard of any kind on the boat, I thoroughly and immediately clean all produce that comes on the boat with a vinegar and water solution (if it’s particularly suspect, I use diluted bleach), we never leave food out, I clean the counters with Simple Green a minimum of 3 times a day, I dust-bust crumbs from our carpets with our little DC-powered hand-held vacuum, I take garbage out daily, clean the sink after we do dishes, wipe down the stove and oven after each use, bathe daily...I even sprayed all our dock lines with anti-roach spray (granted, that was 5 months ago), and yet - it seems they have arrived.  Probably via our no-longer-toxic dock lines.  Another point for anchoring out (but - they are known to fly - so no one is immune)!

It happened the other night when I was enjoying The Muppets Christmas Carol in the saloon. The lights were out and it was theater dark in the boat minus the glow of light from my computer screen. Somewhere between the ghost of Christmas past and the ghost of Christmas present was when I saw it: the distinct silhouette of a roach (granted, a small one) marching confidently over my keyboard, as if he was coming back to his seat after hitting the concession stand. I gasped. I froze. I watched him move in total disbelief. Was this my ghost of Christmas present? Surely this had to be an apparition, right? We have never, ever seen a roach on Rasmus and I had all intentions of keeping it that way.

I got up, left the lights off and walked over to take a closer look. And that’s when he stopped, turned around slowly on his spindly little legs, looked me in the eye and laughed - I swear to God he laughed in my face. I grabbed the flashlight, grabbed a paper towel and came down on him with a thud. I picked up the paper towel and...nada. In an instant he had all but disappeared in some crevice near the nav station. I have no idea where, because not only was it dark, but there was not a single opening that seemed big enough to accommodate him. Was it possible that he literally slipped through a crack? Apparently, yes. I have since learned that cockroaches are the original "shape-shifters" and very wily in their ways. Now you see ‘em, now you don’t.

Did you know that cockroaches date back to the dinosaurs? Yeah. They are one of the very few creatures to have survived the epic whatever it was that pretty much killed everything else on earth except for a handful of bizarre mollusks, a few bacteria, and some single cell organisms. This is what I am dealing with, people. These little bastards are NOT easy to kill.  They mean business and once they are on the boat - immediate action must be taken to get them off because - as much as I hate to admit -  where there is one, there are many.  They breed faster than the Duggar Family and getting rid of them (and their eggs, which can lay dormant for a LONG time) can take months.  This should be fun.

Luckily for me - I am going home tomorrow and I have already ordered an arsenal of wonderfully toxic products (from Boric acid* to Raid Bombs) to use when I return (If an asteroid or an ice age won't kill these bastards - I'm going to bring out the big guns).  We'll stay off the boat for a few days while these poisons work their magic and then do it all over again.  We will also be fumigating the boat when we haul out and I figure between two solid blasts of insecticides - we should be able to return to a roach-free boat next year.  That's the hope, at least.  We'll keep you posted.  War has been waged.  It's on like Donkey-Kong over here.

In the meantime, I'm going to clean the boat...again.

Brittany & Scott

* One of the less-toxic (keep away pets though!) and reportedly successful roach killers is Boric Acid mixed with jam and/or sugar and placed strategically throughout the boat.  I will be trying this.


Carolyn Shearlock said...

Try the boric acid mixed with powdered coffee creamer, too. Good not just against roaches, but also ants . . . and there are two types of ants -- those that feed on sugar and those that like protein. Coffee creamer has both, and roaches like it too. So you can get rid of everything with one product.

Easy way to put it around is to get some beer bottle caps and fill them with the paste (make it really thick), then put them in lockers. You can smear a bit under the lids, etc. too. And it's not as toxic to pets, etc. as many of the other things (although not non-toxic -- just less toxic).

Have a safe trip back to the US!

Marshall said...

Yes, the Boric acid trick works. We caught the one and only cockroach we saw in our house and then went into full panic mode. Lots of Internet research and finally decided to go the Boric acid, flour and sweetener approach (we used agave nectar because we had it). Mixed up a bunch and put it behind every light switch and electrical outlet. Then took the rest and made nice small Boric acid pies on tin foil and put then in closets, cupboards, the garage, etc. Also fed the capture cockroach some (along with water to make sure that lack of water wasn't the reason why he died). He was dead within 24 hours after having a 'snack'. The mixture works! And we haven't seen anymore cockroaches. And it isn't toxic to humans.

P.S. Cockroaches really do die on their backs with their feet in the air!

Anonymous said...

When we lived in St. Thomas, boric acid did the trick, although we did not mix it with anything, just deposited little amounts around in the dark and out of the way places. The powder supposedly would be carried on them back to where they hang out and do more damage that way. Don't know, but it did work very well. Good luck.

NatGeoWannaBe said...

"They breed faster than the Dugger Family". BWAAH AHAHAHAHAH Love it. Best thing I heard all day....and it's nearly 5:30pm.

Neophyte Cruiser said...

Ah yes, sooner or later, no matter how OCD you are, roaches seem to find their way aboard in tropical climates. I, too, am a fan of the boric acid approach. When you do put the boat up, make sure all water sources are gone. Without water (even without treatment) your roaches will eventually leave. It took us about 3 months of treatment (boric acid and every other toxic mix Mexico had to offer) to finally rid our boat of the last cucaracha. Good luck and take solace in the fact that on Rasmus they'll need can openers to eat!

Karen M said...

When I moved to Charleston, SC I was astonished at the number of cockroaches! (and I've always lived in the south, so that's saying something) They were everywhere in the streets! They even have a special name for them: palmetto bugs. (Don't be fooled by the locals; they're really cockroaches) I moved into a brand new complex that didn't spray, so I immediately had to tackle the problem myself. Upon insistance of a coworker, I first tried boric acid mixtures, but after a week and a half of seeing them every single night in my kitchen, I switched to roach traps. I used the double control large roach traps (I think by Raid). They worked fantastically. I saw two more roaches that week. The few that I saw thereafter were either already dead or half way there. I have no proof, but it seemed like the boric acid mixtures were luring them without killing them. It's probably not as intense of a roach situation as Charleston, but I definitely recommend large roach traps if boric acid isn't working.

As a side note, the coworker's mother who swore by boric acid as working fantastically in Boston has since rescinded her claims after moving to SC. I'm convinced Charleston has super roaches!

Hope you don't see anymore! :)

jonnyta said...

Where do you buy the DC-powered handheld vacuum cleaner? I also need to buy a vacuum cleaner but I don't know where to sell the best vacuums. My carpets and some household items need to be cleaned.

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