Tuesday, Nov. 6 is Election Day. This means it is time to vote if you have not already voted. It also means that a “Congratulations” is in order, as you have successfully survived election and campaign season! Your newsfeed, inbox, and nightly news will shortly resume their usual programs.
I know many of you are, by this time, entirely burnt-out from hearing about politics and elections, because, for many, this subject is entirely annoying. So rather than focus our attention on said politics and elections that bug us, I suggest that this week we talk about bugs.
Now, I’ve lived in three different places on campus since moving out of my family’s home four years ago. I lived in Lincoln Residence Hall as a freshman, and again as a Resident Assistant (RA) my sophomore year. When I was a sophomore, I also served as an RA in Pennyroyal in the West Campus Townhouses. This year, I live and work in the apartments. Surprisingly (given that UIS is such a comparatively small campus), each of these communities offers a very different experience when it comes to insects…
In the residence hall, I lived with ants. I watched dumbfounded one day as a line of ants crawled in through a crack in my dorm room window. One after another, they marched “down to the ground, to get out of the rain. BOOM BOOM BOOM.” And like it was a scene from the worst kind of horror movie, they just kept coming. One afternoon, after I thought I had taken care of my crippling ant problem, I felt safe and secure enough to take a nap (how dare I, right?). Well, I woke up thirsty and didn’t feel like putting my glasses on (and I’m a tad bit blind without my glasses), and the Pepsi moved in my mouth. Obviously, I spit both Pepsi and ants out all over my carpet, and was left with an even bigger problem: now I had to not only get rid of the ants, but I had to get the sugar out of the rug to avoid attracting more ants.
I sincerely hope your ant problem has not gotten quite this bad, but I have since learned a few cheap and easy way to get rid of ants. First of all, peppermint essential oil is a natural pesticide. This is knowledge I think everyone should know. Ants hate the stuff. So, for going on four years now, I have mixed a few drops of peppermint oil and water in a cheap spray bottle and regularly sprayed it around all my windows, doors, and floorboards. It keeps the bugs at bay and makes your room smell great in the process!
As a junior in the townhouses, I was confronted with spiders (of course, we still had ants, but we knew how to deal with them by that point!). Shortly after moving into my new house, I had a particularly unpleasant spider join me in the shower. This was a rather traumatic experience for me, one I’m not quite sure I’ll ever forget, because sharing a shower with an eight-legged arachnid friend is a bit like staring your own mortality in the face. Since it is a generally applicable pesticide, peppermint oil works here too. However, I would recommend arming yourself with a shoe and a sense of courage when dealing with spiders.
Now, as a senior living in the apartments, I am facing my most worthy opponent, as I’m sure you are as well…Stinkbugs. They are everywhere. They buzz in through my open door in the few seconds it is open as I enter and leave my apartment, sounding like an attacking war plane in the process. They lurk in corners and manage to find their way into my shoes (pro-tip: check your sneakers before putting them on, because the smell of stinkbug-feet smell is significantly worse than the smell of ordinary sock-feet). They land on my dinner, whether I’m cooking it or trying to eat it. You can’t just kill stink bugs either, because they emit their acrid odor whenever they are scared. And I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to kill a stinkbug, but they won’t die, leaving you with a horrendous stench and a still alive and scurrying stinkbug.
I am still deep in the trenches on this one, as I still have a rather serious infestation of stinkbugs in and around my apartment. But I’m willing to try just about anything, and Google suggests mixing 32 ounces of hot water and Dawn dish soap in a spray bottle to spray around the exterior of my apartment, so you’d better believe Dawn dish soap is now on my grocery list. If it works, I’ll be sure to let you know. For now though, I’m highly skeptical because again, they don’t die.
That said, with each place I’ve lived and through each new insect war I’ve waged, I have learned a few things. For starters, I feel I’d be remiss as an RA if I didn’t mention that you should probably submit a work order (go.uis.edu/schooldude) if you have a particularly bad insect infestation in your residence life space. From there though, it is largely up to you to make your living space a place insects don’t want to inhabit. In other words, clean regularly. Sweep and mop and vacuum anywhere that food is prepared, consumed, or stored. Consider dusting on occasion (I know, it’s a wild concept!). Store your food properly, in sealed containers. Do your dishes as soon as possible. Take out the trash before it smells.
Otherwise, we might just attract more stinkbugs. And that prospect is one that truly stinks.