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November 27, 2014

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LIVING LAS VEGAS :

Die, Jiminy! Crickets are taking over my house

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Gary Kazanjian / AP

Patric Fourmier feeds one of his reptiles a cricket Monday, Oct. 1, 2002, at his Reptile Room in Fresno, Calif.

Click to enlarge photo

Crickets climb along the wall of a retaining box Monday, Sep. 9, 2002, at the Basset Cricket Ranch in Visalia, Calif.

At first they were cute.

Every day or two, a cricket would hop past my toes as I chopped vegetables in my kitchen or watched TV on the couch.

“Aww, look honey! A cricket!” I’d coo to my husband.

He’d grab a plastic cup, I’d snatch an envelope, and together we’d trap and release our visitors outside.

Then, they multiplied. Two crickets on the living room floor. One on the bathroom wall. Another bouncing past the dining room table.

Being a Berkeley hippie, I didn’t mind a few six-legged guests in our home. My husband, Mike, on the other hand, turned cricket killing into a sport.

Whack!

“Yesssss!” Mike had found a new use for the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook we inherited from his mother. It was left to me to pick cricket limbs off its cover.

But my 6-foot-5 husband was no match for the insects. Turn on a light in a dark room, and a small army of crickets would stare you down. Their incessant chirping became the soundtrack of our lives.

We doused the perimeter of our house with repellent. Worthless. And I was dead set against spraying indoors because of our infant son.

Researching cricket remedies, I came upon molasses traps. The Internet promises that three spoons of the gooey stuff mixed in a plastic container with water would become a watery grave for my hoards of leg scratchers.

Instead, I ended up with a sick dog.

Haley, in any event, wasn’t much help. While ferocious with paper plates, tennis balls and dust bunnies, she’s a softie when it comes to crickets. One night I found her lying side by side with one, watching TV.

I finally reached my limit when a cricket the size of a date perched on the wall above my baby’s crib. My weapon of choice became a flip flop.

Smack.

I got good at killing the little buggers.

I admit I felt a little guilty. These were the creatures I had been secretly shuffling to safety behind Mike’s back.

I’m certain now that come Judgment Day, I’ll be greeted by a line of angry bugs. That still pales in comparison to the visions I had of a corps of crickets hoisting up my baby Kaden and carrying him away to their lair, Lilliputian style.

The crickets are, in fact, winning. It has been a month of warfare, and they have entrenched. A cricket behind our stove eats crumbs and, I imagine, laughs at us. Others pay us visits from the garage, skirting across the threshold when we take out the trash.

Six or seven a day become carcasses, thanks to Mike’s cookbook and my shoe, but there are only so many broken antennae and bug guts a girl can take.

Relief, I hope, is on the horizon. A friend alerted me to the leopard gecko, whose favorite meal is crickets. Even better, it hunts its prey live and gulps it up in one bite.

Petco, here I come. Jiminy, meet Geico.

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