Hospitality and Houseguests

New York is the most exciting city in the world.

That’s not just my opinion.  A lot of people say that.  The city is also very welcoming and hospitable, which is not a commonly held view among humans, but I think millions of other creatures would agree.

And by “other creatures” I mean rodents, cockroaches, ants, flies, bees, bedbugs and pigeons.

By all accounts these are some of the primary non-human beasts that thrive in the urban jungle, and New Yorkers like to talk about what they can do to keep their uninvited house guests under control.

And yet there is also an air of acceptance.  If you live in New York City this assortment of two, four, six and eight legged strangers will share it with you, whether you want to share it with them or not.  Which may come as a surprise to the owner of the city’s highest priced (and still unbuilt) piece of residential real estate.

What do you do when you see the first cockroach skitter across the kitchen floor in your 90 million dollar sky palace? Even if the creature is dressed for dinner in top hat, white tie and tails, the sight of it gives one pause. And if the intruder happens to be a rodent, the sight of it gives one paws – “How much money would it take to be totally alone?”

More than you have, apparently. Only in New York.

What else lives in your house?

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57 thoughts on “Hospitality and Houseguests”

  1. i saw on the news last night that the bugs are out in numbers this year. i had a house that was the boxelder bug capitol of the midwest in a neighborhood that boasted many contenders. i went to the hardwar store and asked about the stuff to deal with it and the guy who worked there was obviously exhausted form answering htis question and said. i dont get it. boxelder bugs dont do anything wrong. they eat dust, wak around and die. they dont leave poop or stink or anything and if they coe n the house all you have to do is vacume them up when the die. i started naming them and the kids got a kick out of and they would see a couple of bugs and point them out to me and i would say that bettie and walt, and they would ask how i knew and i would say we were introduced earlier. it went on like this for years and when their friends would come over and see bugs they would comment and the kids would ask for the names and thier friend would look perplexed and see that this is just how it was at our house. we had bettie and walt, irving and lefty, anita and rudy, we had ndess numbers of visitors and it never posed a problem. still have boxelder bugs, still name em. quirky but true.
    now mice…. i wish i had a different answer. i put up with it as long as i can then set the traps and go get those bloody headed intruders to the garbage cans before they gross out anyone but me. i have mice living in my car right now that appreciate the fct i ma not a neat freak and thrive on sunflower seeds and subway sandwich remnants quite satisfactorily but i cant handle the scraps of paper and seed husks all over the place. i am afraid they are heading for the last round up.

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      1. they love the mouse alert but the mice are too smart and there are too many places to hide out. in walls cupboards ceilings the garage the storage shed, the closets etc. big house, declawed cats who get a few but miss a bunch. littel trophies appear outside the bedroom door occasionally but not with regularity worth noting

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        1. I am a little afraid of what we will have for mouse invasions when our geriatric mouser passes on to the great radiator in the sky. She is old, declawed, and we think she may have had a stroke last November…but she is our mouser. The other cat is too lazy. Thankfully, Miss Tosca (the mouser) believes in the “you kill it, you eat it” philosophy of mousing. Virtually no evidence gets left behind.

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  2. i also share my outdoor wonderland with the neighbors. the deer have thankfully found other food sources than my hosta for the evening snacks that had me cursing them earlier this spring. as fast as stuff came up the were eating it. i went through three bottles of hot suace and water sprinkled liberally and that took care of it. the moles leave tunnels that moosh under your feet as you walk over their domain and i have to get castor oil in bulk to deal with that one. we have turkeys and coyotes and this year a fox all in the neighborhood, they and the racoons learned to steer clear of the yard with the old wolf dog keeping prowl, eagles herrons and lots of finches and crows, squirels and chipmonks keep life interesting for the dogs and oh yeah we got a couple new puppies to go with the basset, the maltese the two cats and the fish. they are cute little sheperd mutts we named nala and balto. they are getting the hang of it and we are all energized by their enthusiasm for life. fun fun, stuff.

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        1. ok, now I am going to hear the Chipmonks singing Peter Schickele chants for the rest of the day….et in terra dominos and checkers……..

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        1. Of course there’s Chip Monck,

          Chip Monck (born Edward Herbert Beresford Monck) is a Tony Award nominated lighting designer, most famously serving as the Master of Ceremonies at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
          Tim, he’s your kinda guy… he’s my kind guy too.

          http://www.chipmonck.com

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    1. So the monastery was doing a fundraiser. They were selling fish and chips. So a guy walks into the food tent and says, ” are you the chip monk?” and the brother says “no I’m the fish friar.”

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  3. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    The roommate issue is always a thorny one. The two–legged roomie (my husband) has been joined by another two-legged this week–my mother. Two four-leggeds are also welcome (the dogs) who are both good hunters. Just ask the harrassed rabbits and squirrels trying to live immediately outside the house. They have become much warier since these two joined us. The eight-legged spiders I will also tolerate if they keep their webs out of my face and they themselves stay out of my bed. The mice though, yuck. They used to live in the basement closet under the stairs, but they have thought better of this the last two years since we put a front entry on our house. This is immediately over the stairs. The very adept carpenter fixed the mouse entry points which seems to have made life here more difficult for them. The dogs are both hunters, so if a mouse exits the closet, he or she is doomed.

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  4. fleas came with the new puppies and that will be dealt with, cockroaches would get to me in no time i admit, bedbugs and lice are no fun. i slept in a beautiful cabin in alabama on my one stay in that state and the bugs that bit me ll night long made that the most memorable part of the stay. crabs have entered my life a time or two and been escourted out with great haste. i was at a associates house the other day and the orkin man came in to kill spiders. orkin did a good job of talking about those vile little intruders and how they are fighting hard to keep them from taking over houses all over the state. i didnt have the heart to ask my friend if he’d ever thought of just naming them.

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  5. We have the usual assortment of two and four legged creatures who live here-three humans and two cats and a dog. We have been infested with dusty Millers lately, and had mice and a weasel in the garage this winter. We joke that there are elves who visit the house-Heine the hop elf, the one who steers the hops to climb up the supports on the deck, and Glimmer Van Gleam, the Dutch Elf who makes the house clean and shiny. A friend hat bats in his attic, bats that had bugs like bed bugs, bugs that infested his house and made everyone itch. Ick!

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  6. Of course, there is Our Fair Twixie, although a hyperthyroid means there is a good bit less of her than we are used to. Doesn’t seem to bother her, as she still chases the birds and brings down a mousie or two-she does mostly leave the squirrels alone, and I am sure there is a story that goes with that, but she is not telling.

    It seems the mice had a good winter and I have seen a couple in the house, which always makes me yip (Twixie has been outdoors, basking in the sun on both occasions). We also seem to have acquired some garter snakes. Opened the compost bin (near the mouse smorgasbord at the bottom, I am thinking yesterday to find quite a big one sitting on top, which also made me yip.

    The s&h thinks I should give over with the yipping. As I tell him, it’s not that I am afraid of the beasties, it is just that I tend to instinctively yip when something is moving quickly where I don’t expect to see anything moving at all.

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  7. I used to proclaim a “live and let live” policy with regard to the many mice in my home and cabin. Then the little stinkers abused my tolerance by biting and tearing and shitting all over. I’ve been forced to go on offense. Die, tiny rodents, die!

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    1. When it comes thoughts of allowing mice to be guests in a house, I am always reminded of a Helen Hoover story about living in an isolated cabin on the Gunflint Trail. Helen and her husband tried to kill a mouse they found in their cabin when they moved in. They didn’t kill it but did do some damage to one of it’s legs. Later they learned to live with all kinds animals that came near their cabin and even treated the mouse they had damaged as a pet. I’m sure they were sorry that they had damaged the leg of the mouse, but they could always tell it from other mice because it had a bad leg.

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      1. Seems we had a topic similar to this recently so I might have shared this. I had a handy, hands-free plastic mouse trap that sometimes did an incomplete job, catching a foot, leg or even neck without putting the critter out of its misery. When I picked up the trap and its occupant was still moving (talk about yipping!), I went outside and let it go. To my amazement, even the one who had had a karate chop to the neck skittered off after a few moments.

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        1. Years ago, when I was living in an upstairs duplex in Northfield, the house had mouse problems. I put out a trap, baited it with peanut butter (which I had been told was the best) and went to bed. I heard the snap in the middle of the night and then heard movement. This terrified me and I didn’t have the nerve to go in the kitchen while it was still dark. By morning, the mouse had managed to pull itself and the trap under the stove and was clearly still alive. Every time I tried to get it out from underneath, it would struggle, scare me and I would jump back. I’m ashamed to say that I eventually went to the downstairs apartment and asked one of the guys living there to come deal with it. First and last time I ever put out a trap!

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  8. Good morning. The topic of sharing your house with various animals is one I could talk about for a long time. First I will say that in the case of insects, spiders and their relatives, I am well aware that most people can’t stand to share their homes with them and I don’t expect this to change any time soon, but I wish it would. I like tim’s approach of giving the Boxelder bugs names and treating them as friends.

    One of the regular inhabitants of our house are Basement Spiders which do live mostly in the basement. They provide us with entertainment because when bothered that do a dance in their webs jumping up and down very rapidly. All you need to do is poke at them a little bit and they will do their dance.

    I am always amazed when I see a house centipede with its many very long legs. To me they are one natures marvels. We have them in our house and although they are seldom seen. I have seen immature ones so I think we might a thriving population. One of them has become trapped in the stainless steel sink in our basement 3 times. Somehow it can get into the sink but when it wants to get out of the sink it can’t climb up the slippery side of the sink. I help it get out. Now I am leaving a napkin placed in the sink along it’s side as an escape route for the centipede.

    I have many more stories on this topic, but this is enough for now. I can tolerate almost any bug in the house, but i am not the only one living here. Asian Ladybugs, Earwigs and some other crawly creatures are not welcome and are disposed of when they come to visit us and the same is true for any four legged visitors not including pets.

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  9. Living in a house that is almost 100 years old, I had to give in to the idea of sharing a long time ago. Luckily most of the things that share the house with us are small and we don’t see much of them. Zorro keeps mice at bay, although I haven’t the vaguest idea how (no traces, no clues of any kind).

    The backyard is another matter. I love to look at bunnies at the Fair and even in other folks’ yards, but am amazed at how not bright they are. You’d think the smell of the dogs would tell them that our yard isn’t a safe place. Or that the negative aura left in the yard from all the rabbits that have lost their lives there would dissuade more rabbits from coming through the fence, but no.

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  10. Some of the critters that live in our house I know about, but I shudder to think of the ones I’m oblivious to. I see ample evidence that we have spiders by the webs that materialize, seemingly out of nowhere. When I consider the fact that most spiders are predators that eat insects and other spiders, I’m fairly certain that we’re also hosting lots of other bugs I’m mostly unaware of. There’s one notable exception: centipedes! I detest centipedes, really can’t stand them; they give me the willies. The centipedes live mostly in the basement, which in our case is more like a dungeon, dank and dark. It freaks me out when I spot the occasional one upstairs. Once in a while I see ants in the bathroom. Have no idea how they get there, but there they are, strolling around in the sink until I unceremonious rinse them down the drain.

    It has been years since I’ve seen mice in the house. Husband has two birds on the second floor, and the various seed he feeds the birds attract mice. He has been know to shoot them with his pellet gun. Since neither the cat nor the dog ever go upstairs, I don’t know whether they would actually catch mice and thereby serve a function other than depositing cat and dog hair on the “fur”niture.

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  11. I wanted to live and let live with spiders, too, but then the creepy little buggers showed me what happens when a spider builds a nest in a gas barbecue venturi. On three separate occasions I have had spiders clog my venturis, each time resulting in a thrilling fire when the flames shot forward out of the grill, burning up any wood parts on the grill. Last summer I paid a king’s ransom to have my gas grill restored. The first time I tried to use it this spring there were huge jets of flame blasting forward from clogged venturis. Arrrgh!

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  12. Bugs and spiders make Husband shriek when the sneak up on him…so I do my best to rid the house of them when I find them. I don’t mind them (except the centipedes and any ants found in the kitchen), but would rather not risk Husband shrieking after Daughter has gone to bed…we have two cats (noted above), our elder cat being the mouser. Barney our basset hound might try to chase rabbits in our yard if he could see them…but being half blind, they often move too quickly for him to register what they are with his one good eye. Haven’t seen as many hawks this spring – guessing they have found new digs since their nice, quiet trees have been disrupted by the bridge work on Lyndale. And then there are Daughter’s 30+ Groovy Girl dolls…(and their 3-story mansion)…

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    1. Whoo hoo! Of course, having the say-so of the state won’t make you feel any safer when you’re in the car and she’s driving. I asked my neighbor, who has lived through this several times with all her kids, when I would stop fearing for my life whenever I got in the car w/ the Teenager behind the wheel. Neighbor succinctly replied “when you stop getting in the car w/ the Teenager behind the wheel.”

      However, now you can send her to the store for eggs on her own!

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    2. Congratulations – condolences – cool…we were all once teenage drivers and have lived to tell the tale. I’m sure all will come through unscathed. :)

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      1. I am most relieved because now I don’t have to drive with her. Sherillee’s eariler comments are quite true.

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      2. In her excitement, daughter parked the car in the school parking lot this morning with the lights on. We had to go and jump the car during lunch. Sigh!

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        1. No, she didn’t, but the car is now at the shop since the battery got so low that it might have knocked out the alternator and the speedometer isn’t working correctly. At the least we need a new battery. I suspect there is something electrical or a problem with a computer needing to be reset. She is appropriately disappointed, and she is paying for the jump. Quite an object lesson.

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  13. tim – I just noticed that the Teenager’s new profile picture on Facebook is one of her with one of your new pups, Balto. Thanks for the hospitality for BBC — Teenager enjoyed herself and I think she took about 50 photos!

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  14. I was beginning to think I had some kind of mutant spider-summoning power–my roommate seldom saw any, but I’d find spiders in the shower, in my closet, on the kitchen sink, etc. It just occurred to me that since I started teaching myself to knit, I’ve only seen one spider, and that was outdoors. Maybe Arachne was trying to tell me something? ;-) Our other unofficial roommates are the silverfish that live in the bathroom–we like to call them Cybermats. I think they’re kind of cute, but we do need to keep them away from the books. We also have centipedes that come upstairs for vacations in spring and fall, and wasps that keep trying to move in before winter, but they get evicted with extreme prejudice.

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  15. Love it that you name the boxelder bugs, tim. I think I’ll do that with them and the ladybugs (why are they sometimes called ladybirds? They are bugs!). Come to think of it, there hasn’t been a large infestation of them this spring… hmmm. Haven’t seen many spiders yet, but I do kill them because I think they are responsible for the sporadic bites we get in the summer in bed. I used to try and catch the 6- and 8-leggeds in a yogurt container and let them go outside. Now who has that kind of time? and I learned it’s well nigh impossible to trap a centipede… shudder.

    Our 4-leggeds are, alas, buried in the way back. Will consider another cat if I see another couple of mice…

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    1. Perfect! Love it. What I’d like to know is, what happened to the little girl who was so fascinated with bugs of all kinds when she attended Catholic boarding school. By rights she should have chosen to become an entomologist rather than en English major who relates to the spider scene in Annie Hall.

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        1. That was an experiment. Apparently you need to post the link on a line by itself for it to imbed. Ta da!

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