Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Squirt. Scrape. Smush.

The battle with the termites continues.

These insects are about the size of a pepper grain, almost too small to see (their wormlike larvas are bigger). Collectively, they do a heck of a lot of damage. If I believed in Intelligent Design, I would have a mighty grudge against the Designer.

Under my kitchen cabinets the termites have constructed an ingenious array of galleries, directly on the masonry floors and walls, even freestanding vertical tubes no thicker than a piece of string, all made of -- what? -- digested wood?

The engineering is superb. Their skill is genetic. What a miracle that all that know-how, all that marvelous machinery of life -- limbs, sense organs, digestive track, reproductive apparatus, and instinct to build tunnels, galleries, towers -- is contained an animal almost invisibly small. Killing a single termite would seem to be a greater act of vandalism that smashing a Rolex watch.

But don't think for a minute that will stop me.