(This article was written for Vallarta Tribune, edition # 1160.)
Banderas Bay’s tropical environs rank high in the least of features that attract thousands to our destination on any given year, particularly those living up north and looking for temperate weather. However, the reality of living in a tropical environment includes the inevitable coexistence with a variety of critters that will become unwelcome guests unless you keep them in check. And while their existence can easily go unnoticed through the winter and spring months, we are quick to notice cockroaches and other insects as soon as the summer rains begin.
“When it starts to rain, the increased amount of water moving through plumbing and sanitation systems draws insects to the closest exit they can find,” explains Alberto Guerrero, a local exterminator. “These exits include drain pipes in our homes and gardens.” Left unattended, an ant colony can define a new path along one of your walls as they search for food and shelter in a matter of hours.
When should we call an exterminator? Pretty regularly, according to Guerrero: “One of the most important facts to keep in mind is that hiring an exterminator is not a one-time event. Many folks do not consider professional extermination services until the infestation has become noticeable and difficult to manage.” Here are some tips to keep in mind when searching for an exterminator.
- Look for recommendations online. Facebook forums provide a wealth of useful information and referrals from other local residents.
- Ask for a list of references. A professional exterminator should be able to provide a list of references that will allow you to identify his area of expertise and match it to your needs, residential, business, gardens, etc.
- Certification counts, but… Licensing and professional certification requirements are quite stringent north of the border, whereas locally, many exterminators are family-owned businesses without any type of formal regulation. Again, a good recommendation goes a long way.
- Think of your pets. Pesticides are toxic, so make sure the exterminator is made aware of any children or pets in your household, and follow his instructions if he makes specific recommendations related to them.
- Make it a regular habit. Even when extermination costs vary according to the area that needs to be treated, scheduling regular exterminator visits—say, monthly or every two months, for example—is ultimately a less expensive preventive measure than waiting for the problem to get out of hand.
Kill Your Ant, and Eat It, Too?
You see them appear at night time, as soon as the rains begin. They are drawn to bright sources of light, often dying when these are incandescent. And they come in large numbers into stores, restaurants and even movie theaters if they find a way to sneak in! They are commonly known as chicatanas, leaf-cutter ants of the Atta genus. They are endemic to the New World, and the genus contains over 11 known species. But did you know that in the state of Oaxaca they are considered a delicacy that dates back to Pre-Hispanic times?
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