Tent fumigationBy Janet Miller

Now there’s something I had never seen in my hometown of  Chicago…

A tented house, being prepared for fumigation.  It is quite the necessary and lucrative business here in the islands.

When I first built my house here in Kaua’i, I was naive enough to think the process would be comparable to building my house in Chicago.  I had this crazy notion that it would take 20 years of poor house hygiene for a home to get to the point where it needs to be fumigated.  I consider myself an excellent housekeeper, but here it is, only six years in my newly constructed house and I’m looking around at pest extermination companies.

I’ve already spent a small fortune on termite sprays, ant traps, roach bombs and assorted bug eradication devices, but I see now that I need professional help.  And so does my house.

I tried to compare how much money I have already spent in my unsuccessful attempts to handle this embarrassing situation myself, to the approximate cost of $3000.00 that I would pay the professionals, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I will have to bite the bullet and get the job done right.

The worst of the offenders is the termites.  Who’da thunk I would ever have to do research about these nasty little monsters.  I found that the “dry wood” termites that ate the entire wood trim around a corner closet, are the least of my worries.  It is the aggressive and destructive Formosan subterranean termites that can take down my entire house if allowed to multiply.

So I watched the workers as they unrolled the brightly colored tarps that were to be used to gift wrap an infested house down the road from me; quite an undertaking in itself.  They get those sheets of canvas perfectly stretched and clamped together to form a giant airtight package.  Next, they laid these weights, appropriately called “sand snakes”, all along the edges of the tarps at the base of the house, which assured that the gas would stay in the house bubble long enough to kill everything that lives and breathes inside the walls.

As I understand it, I’m going to have to remove all the food, plants, pets and people out of my house after it is tented, before they set off the gas bombs.  The gas must be allowed to permeate the guts of the house for 24 to 48 hours.  Warning signs will be posted all around the structure to alert everyone in the neighborhood that I have a buggy house, er, I mean, that there is poison gas inside the tent.

After the prescribed bug murdering time, an exterminating expert will test the air inside my house to let me know when it is safe for me to move back in.

Every time I drove past that tented house I would get a nostalgic feeling.  It would take me back to my childhood, to the sweet memory of my family going to the big top tents of the circus.  Lions and tigers and bears,  oh my.

Sigh.  I know, this is one of the trade-offs of living in paradise.