Friday, February 19, 2010

Mystery Solved! or Turkish Vocabulary Lessons

Well, this just goes to show that when you put your mind to something, you're bound to get results. I have admittedly been OBSESSED by this mystery insect invasion, regularly cleaning off and then checking all surfaces in Baby's nursery, leaning in close to inspect -- did that dot just move? Your eyes play tricks on you when something's that small, I've learned. Oh, if only I'd had a magnifying glass ...

So anyway, I'd started to notice that although there were no new dots on the crib, there were plenty on the changing table across the room. Why were these critters continuing to fall on one side of the room, and not the other? I can't tell you how many times I craned my neck and squinted up at the 15-foot ceilings, searching for something unusual about that corner. Nothing.

And then I decided to look down. At some point on Thursday afternoon, I decided to look at the non-white surfaces of the room, namely the brown wooden floor. At first glance, there was nothing to see. But as my eyes scanned the edges of the room, they settled on an area where the mouldings seemed dirty. I crouched down as closely as I dared, making sure to keep my hands and knees off the floor, not wanting to touch a bug! There they were, concentrated in one foot-long area of the room -- millions of dead specks. I looked up, already knowing what I was going to find.

Months earlier, I'd had some of Baby's organic bedding leaning up against the wall in its posh linen bags in that corner. (Remember, please, these had been gifts!) Periodically, I'd noticed some kind of debris on top -- tiny pieces of straw and black sand. I'd realized they were falling from a crack between the wall and the tin plate covering an old hole where a wood stove pipe had been. We'd only been living in the apartment a few weeks, but I'd been noticing a strange sound whenever I was in the bathroom, just off the soon-to-be nursery. I swore it sounded like the cooing of pigeons, but where the heck were they? Surely not inside the building? But they sounded so close!

One day I was walking towards our front entrance, returning from errands, and looked up to see a huge hole in the outside wall of Baby's nursery, about a foot wide and tall. And there were pigeons roosting in it! A quick not-too-mathematically-accurate calculation taking into account the thickness of the stone walls told me there were at least two square feet of nesting space there.

Now I realized my mystery invaders were coming from the pigeons' nest! Pigeon lice? Pigeon mites? This time, my Google search yielded thousands of results. My relief at solving the mystery was overshadowed by the realization that the pesticide sprayed in the room and attic had probably not hit the pigeons' nest, and was only killing the bugs that fell into the room. Something had to be done!

One particularly informative website warned me that getting rid of the pigeons wouldn't be enough; their nest and the entire area had to be cleaned out because the lice and other critters that had been living there would migrate, looking for new homes! The article went on to warn of the damage these lice and mites could cause humans! Horror!!!

This morning I spoke with the grounds manager. I now know the Turkish words for pigeon, flea (which it wasn't), and lice (which it was). Thankfully he shared my alarm. Within 15 minutes, a man with a ladder and a huge gun filled with silicone caulking was at our door, and sealed all the edges around the tin plate.

I'll be inspecting all the white surfaces for black dots tomorrow morning!

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