Life-or-death decisions

Not once, but two or three or four times a day, I make life-or-death decisions. I decide what lives and what dies. Sometimes those decisions are easy; other times I’m crippled by indecision. The house in the village is really a spider sanctuary. They’re everywhere, even in cupboards. And yes, they earn their keep by trapping the flies and the mosquitoes in their webs so those I kill accidentally. They’re collateral damage. Even though they’re trained to run when they hear the hoover, occasionally, if I’m wearing the wrong glasses, I might suck a few up unintentionally, and then I feel bad. Spiderwebs I usually leave alone for a while, but cobwebs…they’re fair game. It’s all about occupancy.

The flies I try hard to ignore, figuring that what they really want is attention. Their constant buzzing I can almost tune out but they’re clever enough to know that if they go quiet every few minutes, I’ll leave them alone. Their cheeky familiarity though I find irritating. They take my half-hearted efforts to brush them off as an invitation to play. And when I pick up their flyswatter, they’re delighted. The current score is Flies 1803 successful skin landings, Me 3 kills. They push my buttons and sometimes drive me to distraction. When I can’t take the noise any more, I spray. It comes down to me or them. Simple survival. In my defence, it doesn’t happen that often.

For mozzies, I show no mercy. It’s kill or be killed as far as I’m concerned. They show no discrimination. They see me as a meal ticket, nothing more. And one thing I can’t abide is being taken for granted.

Upstairs is where the ladybirds come to die. They come in their droves. Out of nowhere. Sometimes it’s a cult-like mass suicide (once I counted 23 bodies in one pile) but more often than not, the floor and windowsills are spotted with lone bodies, travelling separately. They’re easy to dispose of. I brush them up and then throw them over the balcony into the bushes below. But they keep coming and I wondered why:

Ladybugs release pheromones, it is sort of like “perfume” to attract other ladybugs. They use pheromones as a means of communication during mating and hibernation. Insect pheromones are very powerful. They can be detected by others up to a 1/4 mile away. This helps ladybugs find each other and it lets future generations know of a good place to “camp out” for the winter. The pheromones don’t go away easily. The chemical “scent” can remain year after year, and not only on the outside of a structure, but also within the walls, where ladybugs tend to hide before emerging into your home.

But during the week, we had a death not of my doing. A bird flew into the glass doors and broke its neck. It had to have been deliberate as the curtains were drawn and there’s no way it could have looked like a clearway. We heard the bang from the other end of the house but it wasn’t till a while later that I saw the body. What do you do when a dead bird lands on your terrace? Wrap it in plastic and put it in the bin? I struggled with that. It just seemed wrong. Pick it up and throw it into the bushes? It would attract all sorts of insects and such and what if the cats next door found it? Bury it? That seemed a little OTT but it’s what we did… or himself did at my urging.

But later that evening, I thought I’d check what the experts say.

The Canadian Province of Manitoba is all for using public bins:

Tightly close the plastic bag(s) containing the bird or animal. Tie the ends together or use a twist-tie to seal it shut. Place the bag inside another clean plastic bag (if available) and then close it tightly, too. Dispose of dead birds or small animals with your usual household trash.

I found an illustrated step-by-step guide to bird burial that includes a caution to check with local authorities to see if there’s any restrictions – something to do with high water levels. I can only imagine having that conversation in Hungarian.

There’s a website ( that warns me to sterilise the tiles outside… just in case. Dead birds shouldn’t be taken lightly, it says. No wonder I’m still thinking about it.


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2 Responses

  1. Ah, rural bliss . . . I have ants to deal with, several sorts, the smaller of which seem to think that my kitchen and shower room are the places to die in. I can help them with that ambition. But I’ve still got a couple of scars from the bites of the big ones last year.

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