The three Rs of pest control
Pest: “A destructive insect or other animal that attacks crops, food, livestock, etc.” Also, “An annoying person or thing; a nuisance.”
If your understanding of the word pest hinges on the word annoying, the surefire way to get rid of your pest is to stop it from being annoying. When we stop thinking about pests as problems, they cease to be annoying and, by definition, they are no longer pests.
To eradicate pests by reducing or removing their annoyance factor, consider the three Rs of pest control: reframe, redesign and repurpose. Following, are ways to implement them, using examples of pests that plague many of us here in the hinterland. Just remember, as with all types of social marketing, habitual use of the three Rs might be difficult to ingrain; baby steps may be needed to get started.
Take ants and aphids: Ants dig aphids because aphids ooze delicious honey-pee that makes everything sticky and mildewy-black and disgusting. But birds chow down on ants and aphids like kids on cupcakes at a birthday party. Birds eat ’em like candy, so if you like birds, you’ve got to learn to love ants and aphids. Reframe how you think of them—not as miniature aliens and their vacuous sap-slaves, but as plentiful, free bird food. If loving them is not in your emotional repertoire, then consider this: Chickens eat them too, and we eat chickens. Reframe it as vengeance by vector.
We can also reframe how we think of spiders (my personal challenge). In tropical climes, bathroom geckos eat bugs that wander into the loo. Of course, I don’t have a bathroom gecko, but I do have a bathroom spider. Overcoming my shudder instinct, I taught myself to tolerate a single, large, crab-type spider that lives in my bathroom. His name is Horatio and he’s good-looking, for a spider. He doesn’t spin webs, at least none that I can see, and because he is handsome and loyal he is allowed to hang out on or near the ceiling, so long as he doesn’t go near the floor. He is large, which means he must eat a lot of insects, for which I am grateful. All other spiders in my house can go straight to hell. Baby steps, like I said.
Deer are pretty, aren’t they? So graceful while they bound away after you throw your broom at them for eating your petunias. As my friend Sandra said, “Why can’t they eat dandelions instead of tulips?” Why indeed? Now here’s a case for a little GMO: Designer deer that find dandelions delicious.
Dandelions were once regarded as horrible pests. That designation seems to be easing, thanks to the third R in pest control—repurposing. We’re starting to repurpose them as consumables: Their fresh young greens make nice salads and their cheery yellow flowers make good wine. What other type of pest could we repurpose as a consumable?
Take the uber-pestiferous mosquito. If we can make wine out of dandelions, why not them, too? It would be a full-bodied red, of course. We could bottle it and sell it as a unique northern offering and it would pair nicely with those moose-poop-shaped chocolates you see in gift shops. Or maybe mozzy beer! I can see it on the shelves now: “Buzz” and “Buzz Light.”
So there you have it—the three Rs of pest control: reframe, redesign or repurpose. With them, we have the power to control anything that bugs us about living in the North!