13.3MILLER COLUMNStory and photo by Janet Miller

Something I never considered when planning to live in Hawaii, was the little, crawly things. I was aware of the incredible rate at which plants grow, but had not heard about the comparable fertility of the multi-legged inhabitants. Why did no one talk about bugs when they told me about paradise?

I often remind myself: Kaua’i  is, after all, a tropical island.

I came from a Chicago suburb, where one might encounter the random spider in one’s home. On rare occasions, I would be appalled to discover an “infestation” of ants… that would be a neglected corner of a kitchen counter where a tribe of 50-100 ants would congregate. Ugh. Thoroughly disgusting. I would rush to grab a can of bug eradicator.

Seeing a larger bug would send chills down my spine, inducing a panic attack if there was no one home for me to summon to kill it. When I could work up the courage to do the nasty job myself, I would put on rubber gloves, wad up a heavy-duty “big job” sized paper towel, and,  squinting through pained eyes, I would make a jab in the general area of the creature. If it got away, I would simply not need to use that room again until the change of season.

After buying a very rural vacant lot here in Kaua’i, my husband and I built a new house on post and pier. Which means, my living quarters are 12 feet above the ground. Way too high for any bugs to get into, was my theory.

After I moved into my new, fresh, bug free home,  I was chatting with one of my neighbors.  I shared with her about how comforting it is to know that I probably won’t have to deal with bugs for a very long time, especially because I keep a very clean house. She burst into uncontrolled laughter.  She had to be crazy, I thought.  When she was able to speak again, she informed me that 12 feet of climbing was no challenge for Hawaiian bugs, and that I will be seeing them within a month.

No way.

Soon the lone, small-sized cockroach appeared. Then he brought in his whole extended family. Ants found places to congregate by the thousands.  ou name it, we battled them.

Fast forward 5 years. We have a contract with Mr. T Extermination Service. In addition to the professional service, we have an arsenal of six different kinds of specialized bug sprays under the sink.  I have tented my kitchen cabinets and set off five bug bombs at a time.  Still, they come.

Because of frustration, anger and determination, I not only overcame my queasiness about killing them, I have become like a ninja, slamming my bare palm down at lightning speed to squash the crawlers that dare to appear on my kitchen counter.

Opening kitchen drawers always incites a flurry of movement. Turning on a light in the dark kitchen reminds me of when I walked in on my teenagers having a party the night they thought I wouldn’t be home till later… bodies flying in all directions, diving for cover.

Ahhh yes, this is paradise.