One of the great things about living in Hawaii is the variety of insect life. If you like bugs, you are in Hog Heaven. No. Wait. If you like hogs you’d be in Hog Heaven. I guess if you like bugs, you’d be in Bug Heaven. I don’t think I’d like to go to Bug Heaven, even if I liked bugs. Okay. Forget all the heaven stuff. Hawaii has a lot of bugs. So that’s great if you like them. And it’s even better if you like to kill them. People in Hawaii have raised killing bugs to an art form. We’ve come up with many novel and interesting ways to dispatch various multilegged critters and creepy-crawlies that share our homes in this tropical paradise.
Anyone can swat a cockroach with a rubber slipper or rolled-up newspaper, but it takes a real sportsman to pop the head off of a roach with a blast of air from a hand-pumped target pellet pistol. No pellet is used, mind you, because if you miss your prey, you might take out a picture window or the neighbor’s cat. You just pump the pistol with air, move the barrel within 10 inches of a free-range roach and blammo!
Unlike when you go after a roach with a slipper, the big fella doesn’t flee because he doesn’t know what an air gun is. He just looks up at the barrel moving toward him, thinking, “Hey, now, what’s this?” Before he can figure it out he’s in danger, you’ve Charlie Bronsoned him to “¦ where ever bugs go when they’re Charlie Bronsoned.
If you don’t like to use bug sprays or other pesticides around the house, the lubricant WD-40 is a great way to dispatch all kinds of insects. WD-40 doesn’t necessarily kill the little buggers right off, but they start running so fast they slam into a wall and conk themselves out.
And when you’re dealing with one of those foot-long centipedes, remember that a small jackhammer is quite effective. I discovered this while jackhammering my hillside one day, when a centipede made the mistake of wandering by. He was quickly diced into several sections that proceeded to scamper in multiple directions with the intent, I think, of meeting and joining up later. While a jackhammer is a fun way to kill centipedes, your spouse will frown on your employing it inside the house.
My newest insect-control discovery involves using the spray-bottle kitchen cleaner Formula 409 to kill mosquitoes. This was a great breakthrough because it combines the thrill of the hunt with target shooting and housecleaning. If you miss the mosquito, which you will on your first few tries, you merely wipe the spray off of whatever household appliance or piece of furniture you hit and — voilÃ — it’s clean!
There is something in the formula of 409 that kills mosquitoes on contact. (I doubt that 409′s predecessors — 407 and 408 — had this secret ingredient.) And like the air gun/cockroach dynamic, the mosquito doesn’t flee for its life. He’s looking for your hand or a fly swatter to be coming at him, not a big, friendly-looking bottle of 409.
When you get good enough, you can pick mosquitoes out of the air with a squirt of 409. I can’t tell you how satisfying that is. It must be what World War I flying aces felt when then shot down an opponent.
You can also use 409 on roaches, but they tend to scurry behind couches or dressers to die. You’ll find them — clean and shiny — later, lying on their backs in the “I’m a Goner” position. I always thought the way roaches turn over and die on their backs as one of their more charming features. It’s really damn decent of them.
So, to recap: air guns for roaches, jackhammers for centipedes, 409 for mosquitoes and WD-40 for miscellaneous creatures. They are safe, fun ways to control pests and relatively kind to the environment. I’ve been experimenting with trying to suck flies right out of the air and off table tops with a vacuum cleaner nozzle but earlier results aren’t promising. So far I’ve caught pencils, potato chips and TV remote controls and scared the bejesus out of one of our love birds, pinning it to the inside of its cage.
Charles Memminger is a national awarding winning columnist, screenwriter and author living in Hawaii. He recently took third place in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists 2010 contest in humor for newspapers over 100,000 circulation. You can order his book, “Hey, Waiter, There’s An Umbrella In My Drink! (Tales from the Tropics by Hawaii’s Favorite Humorist” by e-mailing him at email@example.com.