by Maria Ruiz
Maria often shares stories with us about Santa Barbara history, her travel all over the world, her dogs, and life.
I noticed a bee in the house we were renting in Jaco, Costa Rica. I put it outdoors and gave it no more thought. Later that day, I saw another bee flying around the living room. Those were the first two bees I had ever seen inside the house. True, there wasn’t any glass in the windows, but generally bees don’t find the insides of houses have anything to offer them.
Outside the house sat our RV in the driveway. We had just finished having a guest visit us for a week, and she had stayed in the RV, using it as a guest house. We had shown her the volcanoes, the spas where we sat in the warm swirling water, and watched another volcano shoot fire brands into the sky. We had driven to the east side of the narrow connection of North and South America, visited several natural parks, touched crocodiles (small ones), and saw scarlet Macaws flying overhead, as well as the Toucans that love to show off for the tourists.
We had driven her to San Jose and the airport just the day before. Now we were slowing down and getting back to our daily routine. Bees just didn’t belong in our house.
I fastened the leashes on the dogs and began one of our daily walks when I noticed there were several bees flying around the front tires of the RV. After I returned from the walk, I got the key and opened the door. Inside, there were bees everywhere, climbing the window glass, walking on every surface, covering the steering wheel—in the bathroom, on the floor, hanging from the ceiling—everywhere.
I left quickly and we stopped in a real estate office in downtown Jaco. The agent gave us the name and number of an insect service. We called and they promised to come the next day.
They showed up early the next morning, wanting to come before the bees would be getting ready to swarm around. One man pumped a gas into the RV, then under it and finally between the layers of the sides. “Now you wait for twenty-four hours before you go inside. If you have any still alive, you call us.” Ted paid for the service, and we waited.
The next morning, there was a small mountain of bees lying on the driveway by the front tires. I opened the door, not sure what I would find. Inside, there was at least two inches of dead bees on every surface and the floor. The front dashboard was so covered we could hardly see any vinyl. The bed was covered and inside the closet there was a foot deep hill.
We swept, vacuumed, and brushed them away, all the time so glad our guest was gone without ever knowing that she was living inside a bee hive.
Now, over a year later and half way around the world, we were to experience nature’s abundance of insects again, in the house we rented in Chaing Mai, Thailand.
“What is that flying around? “ I asked Ted.
“I don’t know but there is another one.” He answered while pointing at more of the same small moth-like bugs flying around the light.
“Oh look, there are more” I said as it seemed like hundreds more poured out of the bedroom into the living room where we were watching television. Both of us got up and headed toward the bedroom to see where all those flying bugs were coming from.
In the bedroom the cloud of bugs was so thick that we could hardly make out the door to the bathroom. While the house was built like most other houses in Asia, out of cement block, the door and window jams were built out of wood. The bathroom door frame was alive with termites.
I had seen television shows about the migrations of queen termites filling the night sky with millions of worker termites following as she flits around looking for a good place to set up home. I never expected to see that show in our living room.
We each took a can of Raid and sprayed it into the millions of holes that had erupted in the wood of the bathroom door. Ted went down the street to get the landlord and he came, armed with a couple more cans of spray.
After about an hour, we seemed to have exhausted the flying termites and began to sweep up the deep hills of little bodies. I have no way of judging how many there were but each one is about the size of a medium size ant. And the hills of bodies were about two feet high and two feet in diameter. That wasn’t counting the millions we swept up in the living room and the bathroom, and of the several more piles of them that had swarmed from the frame of the bed.
Early the next morning, the landlord replaced the now-hollow frame for the door and sprayed around the outside of the house.
Fortunately, neither of us is bothered by insects, and on both occasions were amazed at the swarming show.
Later, as we toured Africa and South America, we did get to see termite mounds, some reaching six or seven feet tall. On safari, it turned out that we were to use the mounds as privacy screens for those who needed to use a toilet. Isn’t nature wonderful??