Monday, July 2, 2007

Teeny Tiny Crawly Things

It's official. The birds living in in the vent of my inoperable bathroom exhaust fan (much ado about their existence previously written here) have over-stayed their welcome. Immediately following the birth of their first brood of chicks in May, the horny couple got right back to business. Their new family hatched about two weeks ago and I've been enduring their incessant chirping since. As I wrote before, I don't love this, but I can handle it. After all, aside from a bit of nature-inspired noise pollution (that happens to be noticeably amplified by the aluminum vent their nest is built inside---which, as it is installed in the wall, also happens to be a mere three inches away from being INSIDE my bathroom), the birds are really not causing me any harm.

So I thought.

This morning I walked into the bathroom, reached down to lift the lid, and was greeted by a small army of very tiny creatures crawling all over the thing. A quick glance around the immediate vicinity revealed the commode was not the only fixture covered by these nearly invisible insects. It looked like black, gritty pieces of dust moving around in haphazard formations. I had to bend down within inches to even begin to guess what the hell they were.

Spiders. I think. Hundreds, maybe thousands of baby spiders, no larger than the smallest spec of sand, crawling in tiny groups all over the toilet, the floor, the walls, the bathroom counter, the sink, and, to my horror, MY FUCKING TOOTHBRUSH!

[edit: after receiving credible info from Jenji, it appears that these are most likely bird feather mites or red mites...note the magnified and decidedly creepy photo]

I grabbed the spray bottle of Clorox Kitchen and Bathroom Cleaner and went at them like a bubbleboy who has just learned that the sanitary integrity of his bubble has been compromised. These were resilient little suckers and continued to crawl around even after getting sprayed repeatedly. I was forced to get out the big guns -- Full-strength liquid Clorox Bleach. I snapped on the latex gloves, doused multiple wads of paper towels, and proceeded to vanquish the formidable foe from every bathroom surface that they dared to crawl.

The vaporous Clorox cloud immediately starting killing my brain cells, so I stood up to open the window. It was then that I discovered the source of my insect infestation. The little suckers were streaming through a tiny space between the plaster wall and the bathroom fan's chrome trim. The inside flap of the fan assembly has been sealed up with aluminum-coated industrial heat duct tape since I moved into the bubble three years ago, but I hadn't noticed the tiny gap around the trim piece until now. It couldn't possibly be a very large space, though, because I've never felt cold air coming in during even winter's coldest months (and I do make a point to notice these sorts of things if they do, in fact, exist).

The nano-sized bugs were marching through the gap and down the wall and all over everything, INCLUDING MY TOOTHBRUSH! While continuing to pounce on them with bleach-soaked paper towels (ravishing more of my own brain cells in the process), I surmised that this ordeal was a direct result of my over-sexed avian neighbors living in the bathroom fan. Their decision to make a second batch of babies instead of leaving the area after their first chicks moved out, had, undoubtedly, welcomed a slew of unsavory bug infestations into their nesting materials.

It probably happened like this: The first eggs hatched and those little babies filled the place with their own nastiness -- moldy, regurgitated worm carcasses and the like. And poo. Sweet Jesus, the poo! Anyone who's spent any amount of time near a baby of any type will know the nastiness I'm referring to. Then, following the kid's departure, I can't imagine mom and dad cleaned out the double-wide love nest much before throwing on some Barry White and getting their freak on again. So add the old baby funk with the new baby funk, plus no opportunity for mother nature's winter weather onslaught to clean out the nasties (like she's been able to successfully do every winter before), and what you end up with is a bird's nest that is jammed in a bathroom vent and incubating millions of insects, along with microscopic, single-celled bacterial nastiness that would love nothing more than to start families of their own inside MY BUBBLE!

After dousing the area with bleach like a latex-gloved germaphobe on a bender, I used two-inch wide plastic weather tape and sealed all visible cracks and crevices around the bathroom vent. Then I stood vigil for the next fifteen minutes to make sure that nothing else was getting in. At least nothing I could SEE was getting in, but I'm still convinced that that pig sty of a bird's nest has already fostered, and put me in direct contact with, countless forms of highly undesirable bacteria!

I had to toss a SEALED six pack of toilet paper that was sitting on the floor after seeing a few of the little suckers frolicking INSIDE the rolls. I tossed the open box of Kleenex that was on the counter because they found that too. And I tossed my fucking toothbrush.

Now every time I see a tiny piece of black grit anywhere in the house I'm going to obsessively stare at it to make sure it's not moving. I've already given harmless crumbs near my toaster oven an unwarranted once-over.

Imagine that. I'm profiling crumbs now!

Fuckin' birds.

1 comment:

well then, jenji said...

On your fucking TOOTHBRUSH!?? Okay (sound whoop whoop alarm), because this is a complete breach of the bubble, if not cause for moving said bubbledom to a new location! Out of sheer pity and indeed a modicum of horror, I would like to offer my vehicle for the moving process.

Now, for the bad news...these little pieces o grit...has it occurred to you that these may not be baby spiders at all, but (dum dum daaaaah!), bird mites? Birds, especially wild birds, are infested with mites and like your mystery grit, they are like little specks o dirt. In fact, in my ever so humble research mode, I decided to refer to one of my avian books and found that the following may help your situation-

"There is one sure therapy for feather mites. Keep your aviary as clean as possible. Let the birds bathe as much as they want, and keep wild birds away by whatever means are available."

So, as your birds are already wild, you may in fact already be screwed. Or, you could adopt your little wild friends and make a virtual birdie water world in your bathroom (sans the Kevin Costner ego factor) and let the little buggers "bathe as much as they want." Then, vacuum out the vent they call home and begin naming each and every one of them after characters from the original Muppet Show.

Still, on your toothbrush man? Jesus. No, seriously—Jesus. You know, you've probably managed to unknowingly track them into every orafice of your house by now, you know that right? Actually, that's probably what has your sinuses so irritated this week...mite dung. Am I not helping? You can tell me...

If it makes you feel any better, Harold has dropped a nuclear bomb in your honor as payback for my disturbing observations.