Posted by: Alicia Phillips | February 7, 2012

The Pests that Plague My Life…

When my plane landed in Fiji for the first time, 8 months ago, and I walked out the doors in the pre-dawn darkness I was almost knocked down by the heat and humidity, then as I acclimated there was something else that about knocked me down………Mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes here are different than the ones back home. You don’t realize when they bite you! You just look down and see that there are 15 feasting on your leg.  This happened after training where we were informed that Pacific mosquito’s carry Dengue Fever (known here as break bone fever) and Filariasis (also known as Elephantiasis….Google it). So for the first few weeks I doused myself with mosquito spray and poisoned myself by inhaling the fumes of mosquito coils that have DDT in them. I think I have gotten somewhat immune to them though because they don’t bother me like they used to.  After I got used to the mosquitoes another useless gross insect started to plague me………Giant cockroaches.

Now I know I know…cockroaches don’t bite, they don’t eat your food, and they can’t hurt you. But they are gross and fast and creepy looking! And these cockroaches are no joke!  They are huge and they fly! And they like to crawl around on your shower walls just to freak you out and crawl on you when you sleep. The babies will even crawl up in your ears and cause trouble, and from what I hear they are NO FUN to dig out. And you have to spray them with raid for like 30 seconds before they finally die. They are awful and freaked me out every single time I saw one, until I saw something that was grosser, and faster, and creepier, not to mention bigger and much more scary looking……..Cane Spiders.

Now cane spiders don’t bite you either, or if they do it’s not poisonous. But these suckers are huge. I have only been in close contact with these arachnids twice since I have been here, once in a bathroom where it guarded the door. I had to sit there till it moved away then I bolted away. And the next time in the corner of my kitchen, it ran across the wall in front of me. I flipped out, ran downstairs and got my neighbor to come kill it. Side note: Most Fijians are not at all scared of spiders…but they are of frogs. So anyways my neighbor comes up and smashes it with my broom and when she pulled away we saw that momma spider had an egg sack with hundreds of baby spiders that were now running rampant all over my one room apartment. I was killing spiders for days after that. I got used to seeing the bastards and almost started to be happy they were there because they ate the things that almost legitimately drove me insane…………Red ants.

Ants? Worse than spiders? I must be crazy right? No. Ants are 100 times worse than spiders because ants WILL bite you, ants WILL eat your food, and ants WILL form armies and invade my apartment by the thousands in a matter of hours. Heaven help you if you wash your dishes but leave the tiniest microscopic piece of food, because you’re going to wake up and have a sink full of them. And they are so hard to get rid of. You wipe up 300 of them with a sponge and 20 minutes later 500 will replace them. They get in your bed and you wake up with bites all over you that itch worse than any mosquito bite you’ve ever had, and they stay there for 2-3 weeks. It got to the point where I would quit throwing away the food that they had gotten in to and I wouldn’t even bother to pick them out. I’d just eat them…..protein right? Eventually I figured out all the secrets to ant evasion…cockroach chalk, tuna cans full of water, and plastic containers to hold all your opened food. But there is something else out there that can even a plastic container can’t hold back……..Rats.

When I first realized I had a rat I wasn’t too concerned. It hadn’t gotten in to my food yet, but I knew it was there because it was a cocky little bastard and it ran around in full view of me in the daylight. But as long as it wasn’t eating my food I was down to co-habitate with it. Why not? Then I woke up one day and saw a hole in my coveted Kraft Mac and Cheese that made its way to me all the way from the USA. That was it…..you don’t mess with a Peace Corps Volunteers macaroni and cheese unless you want to die. That’s when I went medieval on it and bought a rat trap the side of my foot, coated it with some peanut butter and left for the weekend. Success….I had me a dead rat. I eventually figured out more natural ways to get rid of a rat….a cat. The things cats do to rats could give you nightmares. So now I have my very own rat killer (and cockroach killer, Score 2!), Lillian.

So now I have conquered (or maybe just learned to live with): disease carrying mosquitoes, flying hissing cockroaches, gargantuous cane spiders, torturous ants, and mac and cheese eating rats. Seems like I about covered it right? No….there is one more pest that has captured my attention now that the rainy season is here in full force. A pest that are so poisonous they can kill animals and small children, a pest that is so fast they are almost impossible to catch, a pest that is so sadistic they will crawl in your bed and sting your feet while you sleep, so good at hiding that you can be walking outside and step on one without even seeing it, a pest so creepy and ugly is could star in its own horror movie……..a centipede.

Caught this guy trying to sneak in my window

Yes! I’m serious! Centipedes are vicious creatures! No I’m not talking about millipedes; those things don’t mess with anybody. No I’m talking about centipedes that can get as big as 12 inches and thrive in junglely, wet, humid, dark places. They can bring a full grown man to tears while his foot is swelling up the size of his thigh. They are so resilient that my roommate killed one the other day by hacking it up to pieces with a cane knife and then burning it. They are scary mo-fos.

I hope everyone has the heebie jeebies now, I hope you check your sheets before you go to bed tonight, I hope you think twice about sticking your foot in your closed toed shoes because you never know what may be lurking back there. I hope you flinch when you see something out of the corner of your eyes that ends up just being a leaf. I hope you carry a bottle of raid in your purse wherever you go.

Actually….I don’t know why I am complaining, there are so many more poisonous things in America that can hurt and kill you, spiders and snakes and all kinds of scary things. Fiji is actually quite safe from harmful things (if you don’t include sharks and wild dogs), but for some reason all these pests seem scarier because I am so far from home and I don’t have my brothers handy to come kill them for me.

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Responses

  1. Eeeeeuuuuuuwwwwwww!! Yukky. Beautifully written! So graphic ! I could almost see the critters as I read ! Think ill forego visiting you there ! But look forward to your next chapter on life in Fiji ! Hugs !

  2. Aliciaaaa! oh nooo!! make sure and wear ear plugs or ear muffs to bed! I am having the hebie jebies just thinking about a roach crawling in someones ears!!! I love Lilian! She better always take care of you there. Just be careful!!! Take a picture of stuff like the spider, roach and centipede for me.
    I love you darlin be careful!
    Have you caught anything with the large glue pest strips we sent you?

  3. Alicia,

    Now I really cannot wait to go to Fiji in June. How much bug spray should we pack?

    Really do enjoy reading your blogs.

    How is your new job in Suva going? Sun out yet?

    • One can of personal insect repellant is enough. i would say for 2 weeks. You can get them in Fiji as well if you run out. But if you going to a small island then buy them from the main land in a super market will be cheaper.

  4. Those centipedes we call them ‘Cikinovu’ Even if you cut them in two they still wriggle about.

    Thanks for following my blog as well.

    Great Work.


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