Diary of a Sussex ‘newbie’ - The Critters

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My new friend is the very lovely and oh so greatly appreciated pest control man.

Our relationship isn’t just seasonal either, it’s year-round, and I consider myself fully committed.

Neither Dear Daughter nor myself are particularly comfortable with creatures of the buzzing, or the creeping and crawling variety.

Here, it seems we are somewhat of a magnet for a variety of prospective tenants, looking to move on, downsize, or simply relocate to pastures greener.

Our first spring/summer I thought it was just plain bad luck.

However, I have come to realise that this is the new status quo and there is simply an abundance of flying and stinging insects in the countryside.

So, our very patient pest control expert is referred to fondly as ‘Mr Wasp’ (there is apparently an actual Mr Bee who performs the same function in the next door village). As soon as the weather warms we’re on the look-out for critters who are on the move, and in our direction.

By the time you’ve noticed them, they’re usually installed, unpacked and well into re-decorating.

We’ve had nests tucked under roof tiles, squeezed below guttering and perched behind a loft door.

They can get in virtually anywhere. But Mr Wasp has a long and bendy metallic device down which he squirts clouds of white powder, insinuating it into the tiniest and trickiest of crevices.

Last summer hornets the size of mini croissants started appearing in the living room – not just a couple, but up to 20 or so a day; there were no holes in the ceiling/window frames; we couldn’t work out how they were getting in.

It turned out, they were coming down the chimney, drawn to the light streaming in the windows below... in the end Mr Wasp had to travail the roof, in full protective gear, and zap them from a very precarious position tight against the chimney pot... it didn’t seem the right time to quiz him about insurance, but standing 30 feet below with a tiny step ladder,

I felt rather useless...

Once autumn arrives, Mr Wasp morphs into Mr Mouse – same man, different prey.

As soon as our flying tenants move out, in scamper those of the more furry variety.

We usually know they’re arrived in the still of the night. Wherever they are, their sound magnifies and they seem only inches away, making a bizarre metallic scraping.

I don’t know what pleasure or nutrients they get from chewing pipes, but it’s unrelenting and immensely irritating!

We feel very fortunate to know Mr Wasp and the relief when I see his battered old war truck coming up the drive is disproportionately immense.

There’s no critters he can’t handle and we’re ready for whatever else is coming our way.

So long as it’s not black with eight legs; don’t think I’d get away with ringing him for one of those...

Marah Winn is a former London resident who has recently settled in Sussex.