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February 04, 2007: Not as bad as it seemed

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A few years back we signed up with a pest control company to come out every three months and treat the exterior of our house for buggy kind of critters. We did it mainly because, while I try very hard to adopt a live-and-let-live attitude with those of the many-legged set, the situation with the paper wasps was really worrying me. We have little peaked roof overhangs over the front door, and the second story library window, which apparently provide the perfect spot for paper wasps to build their nests, and as much as I tried to reason with them and convince them to build their nests in the backyard instead, they refused to listen and sometimes they would come inside and there is nothing quite like finding a mostly-dead wasp twitching on your floor to make you a bit jumpy. As an added bonus, we have not had a single ant infestation since we started the quarterly bug patrol, which makes me more happy than I can possibly describe, considering the millions of ant bodies I had to clean up during the first year or two we lived here.

Anyway. A week or so ago, they called to schedule a termite inspection. It seemed odd to have this come suddenly out of the blue, but they said it was part of our anti-bug package to get a free termite inspection every three years, so Richard scheduled it, and then stayed home on Friday in order to meet the termite guy when he came to check out the house. The guy wandered around outside and checked our foundation, and climbed up into the attic and checked there, and so far everything was looking just peachy and extremely termite free, until he headed into the last segment of the inspection, which was to look underneath the house. Our house has a raised foundation, so there is about two feet of crawl space underneath, accessible only through a small square opening in the floor of the front hall closet. And this is where he discovered that maybe we were not as happily termite free as we had hoped.

It turns out that the contractors who built our house had, in their infinite non-wisdom, left a bunch of scrap wood lying about in the crawlspace - an act which is sort of like an engraved invitation to those of the termite persuasion. And the termites, never willing to turn down an invitation to a party, had responded just about as you expect. He brought out a piece of wood to show Richard, and then started quoting prices for termite treatment, and it's no surprise to say that there was a wee bit of silent screaming and panic when Richard forwarded all this info on to me.

Luckily, the termite inspector said that there was no structural damage, which basically means that while the termites have been happily feasting on the scrap wood lying about down there, they haven't made it up to the actual house foundation. Which suggests that as careless as the contractors were for leaving the stuff down there in the first place, they at least managed to do their job when they built the actual foundation itself. And the even better news is that if we can just get back down there and rake out the wood, while leaving behind some treated stakes that will take out any termites that start pondering bigger and better things once their main source is taken away, we'll probably be fine. And while I am not remotely a fan of dark, enclosed spaces full of dirt and bugs and who knows what else, I think I can manage to get over my utter distaste for the idea of crawling underneath my own house if it will save us the $1600 the inspector quoted us to have someone else come out and do the exact same thing.

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