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The Bug Man Cometh

July 7th, 2008

Ahhh Bugs! Bichos! Things with many legs! If you live here in the tropics, they are as much a part of your life as the sun, the beach, the mountains, and the bad roads! Certainly one of the most visited web pages in The REAL Costa Rica is about the creepie crawlies that are everywhere in Costa Rica. Not surprising I guess… hell, there was even a snake in the Garden of Eden right?

Those of you who follow my writings probably already know about Rolando, the Flying Cucaracha Affair, and the occasion tarantulas that come avisitin’ at Casa Ticogrande. However, for sheer annoyance, nothing can top the ants (hormigas). that look at this house as a giant smörgåsbord.

When I speak of ants, I am not referring to one or two… or fifty. I am referring to, in some cases hundreds (or more).

The other night, I called Maria Luisa to the kitchen to witness a true phenomenon. Starting at the base of the counter, crawling up the side of the counter, across all three counter tops (maybe 20 feet) and disappearing into a crack near the edge of the counter were ants. Thousands of ants. I bent close and could hear them singing some sort of marching song.

Our ants are not limited to the kitchen. Oh no! They travel! They come out of the floor in my office, they live in my desk. They live in our bedside tables and on occasion, they join us in bed as we watch TV!

They come in various sizes! Some are very tiny. Some are big mothers, black and nasty looking! They crunch when you step on ’em.

We also get other critters like the tarantula, an occasional scorpion and some things that I know not the name. We also get the flying cucarachas of course and those really BIG cucharachas about the size of a box of matches. My wife won’t let me touch those as she assures me they eat the smaller cucharachas that gross out everyone. She may be right as we never see those!

Drop anything on the floor and within seconds, it is covered with hundreds of the really tiny ants. “Anything” here can also mean a dead bug of any specie.

The kitchen thing did it for me! The next day I am on the phone to the Cruz Verde. The Cruz Verde are the bug people, the CR equivalent to the Orkin man. Cruz Verde means Green Cross in Spanish. I have no idea from whence came that name, but there you have it.

They arrived on time, and we want about carefully locking up the dog, both cats and the parrot. These guys take this bug thing seriously and they spray inside, outside, in cupboards, along floors, in my desk and nightstand… the works. Two guys – one hour. We are told that we can free the animals from prison in an hour… but I wait three as our animals are family.

Yesterday? No bugs! OK a few but clearly they did their job well which they should have for the $60.00 they accepted as they left.

Today?  None.  Sixty day guarantee, and they want to be in my wallet every six months.

Think I’ll just wait until I hear that marching song again.

13 Responses to “The Bug Man Cometh”

  1. Julie on July 7, 2008 8:37 pm

    Hi TG –
    Could you possibly post a picture of the “good” cucaracha? Sounds important to know which is which!

  2. Tim on July 8, 2008 9:51 am

    Hi Julie

    You wish is (almost) my command.

    You may see one here (click):


    I do not make any representation that my wife’s opinion on the eating habit of this monster are accurate. 🙂

    If you see one, they ARE hard to confuse with the “others”.

  3. Sandi Hummer on July 8, 2008 12:35 pm

    About bugs, I have to tell you. we moved into a beach cottage in Hermosa Beach, California back several years ago, and had no idea as to the severity of the cockroach infestation. No idea at all. We soon found out about them, as you couldn’t open a cupboard door or step out of bed at night without encountering whole families of them, they were all sizes of them and in huge numbers. Really terrible, I can’t begin to tell you.

    Our next door neighbors in their brand new home were infested with them as well, and I mean terribly, so they went to the library and found out that Borox powder works, the kind used in laundry. It does so by drying up the protective coating on their shells. They have microscopic hairs on their legs and they pick up traces of the powder on them, boogie on back to their nests where they dry up and die.

    We used the Borateem, a finer powder and easier to disolve, as well as regular plain Borax. Neither kind are immediate, but it is long lasting, think forever. I would think you could disolve the Borateem and spray it into holes and have it get in areas you can’t reach with dry powder. The regular Borax powder is hard to disolve.

    We went out and bought box after box of both kinds and poured it all around inside our cupboards, especially around the edges, around our baseboards, under our sinks, under our fridg, our stove, our washing machine, I mean we put it everywhere, especially under our beds. The thought of them crawling into our bed and our babies bed was terrible.

    We then put box after box under our house, doing this until it looked as though it had snowed under there. A bit of overkill I believe, but we really were desperate to rid our selves of them. There were no more cockroaches in the year we lived there. You can also put it up in your attic’s, in your closets, etc.

    I wash everything in it, as I like how it helps clean and how nicely clothing, blankets, sheets and towels come out when using it, always making sure I use it in the final rinse. It keeps everything smelling fresh and it helps items to last longer, and a bonus is that stains aren’t as likely to set when Borax is already washed into them. I rinse first and last rinses in cold, sometimes using warm in the last rinse.

    I don’t put it on the carpeting where we walk, as it would be hard on it, but I do put it on around the baseboards up next to them and about a foot out, and brush it in so it’s not visible. It helps kill fleas as well.

    Borax is a one time and cheaper rememedy for most bugs. Not the ones which fly most of the time, but all others, although I believe it does damage their eggs and kills larvae.

    I put Borax in the final rinse of my woolens as well, thinking it might help keep moth damage down, as well as any other bugs which might, and often times do, eat clothing. Borax is used in baby clothing and diapers in final rinses so it is safe.


  4. Tim on July 8, 2008 1:21 pm

    Sandi… Your comment sounds like a commercial 🙂

    But as it made sense, I let it go though. A natural solution might suit a lot of environmentally conscious folks. Me? If we had cockroaches, I’d use heavy weapons!

  5. Sandi Hummer on July 8, 2008 7:59 pm

    Believe me, it’s not a commercial. I thought that it looked like one as well when I sent it, and wondered if it would make it. I do use it a lot and recommend it quite a bit. I can’t sing it’s praises enough as it has saved us a lot of grief.

    When I went down south, to go to Saint Johns in Santa Monica to have my foot operated on by a docter I knew from UCLA Med Center, my friends from Manhattan Beach, old highschool friends, were living in Century City, so they came and picked me up and I stayed with them until the final release from my doctor as he kept me another three weeks.

    I was being attacked by fleas at their place, the area was thick with them, so I had them get boxes of the regular and put it out in their patio down in between the openings between the bricks and Mike mixed up a slurry and put it on their dogs as they were miserable with them. I then put it all around their house and lightly dusted between the sheets and the mattress with it. It seemed to work pretty fast on them and ended the troubles. Mike did get worried about it being toxic for their dogs and quit using it, but I’ll tell you what, it works. In fact it is usually a liquid borax that exterminators spray, or so I’ve been told. It is just cheaper my way. I know derivative solutions of it are used for eye problems too, or is it? Or am I just associating it with it, as it sounds similar? Boric Acid?

    I’ve been wondering, if when we move down there if we should buy a big commercial drum of it if it’s even possible, just to take with us as I don’t want bugs everywhere I look, and I don’t like to use too many poisons. I know there’s Teflon tape to put on things that bugs slip off of and can’t crawl on. Can you get it down there as well? I imagine you can. Can you get Borax down there as well? I’m not talking about the kind you wash your hands with like mechanics use, but the laundry kind.

    The thing is, you aren’t hurting yourself with chemicals. Often times it is what an exterminator is using anyway, just in a different form, so why pay big bucks when a couple of dollars might do it? It lasts a lifetime, that is if it isn’t where it will get rained or washed away. So, in the long run it’s cheaper, besides it being more effective, as once there, it stays.

    Rich lived in an area where they sprayed for everything, fertalizers, bugs, weed killers, etc., even arial spraying. This was in the San Joaquin valley and he feels a bit ill every time he’s around sprays for bugs and crops.

    By the way, for gophers I use old crummy smelling onions, and they work well too. Ha. Shove them down their tunnels and holes. I cut firmer ones in half so they don’t sprout, and stick several of them them down their holes and cover them up. Also, put them along your flowerbeds abour a foot deep. I got desperate fighting gophers as well, and thought this up as I was trying my best to save my garden, as none of the commercial products were working. I thought nothing can stand that smell, the smell of mushy stinky onions, I felt half sick trying to get it done, so bet gophers can’t bear it either. They couldn’t, they moved on.

  6. Costa-Rica » Costa Rica Vacations changed our lives. Final stage. on July 9, 2008 1:16 am

    […] The Bug Man ComethBichos! Things with many legs! If you live here in the tropics, they are as much a part of your life as the sun, the beach, the mountains, and the bad roads! Certainly one of the most visited web pages in The REAL Costa Rica … […]

  7. Sandi Hummer on July 10, 2008 11:14 am

    We live out in the country, so bugs and all sorts of critters are a constant. We’ve had a bat on our back porch, hanging on our screen door (it had a tiny hole in it’s wing, tarantulas jumping on the same screen door, and one night I woke up to a skunk just outside our bedroom window and couldn’t jump out of bed fast enough, the smell was so strong it was gagging us, we closed the window and had to laugh at this on. We’ve had angry bears (it’s cub had been hit and killed on the highway),with it roaring, half a football field from our house, but it’s footprints were all around our place the next morning, it sounding like a diesel truck going through its gears.

    So… much of what Costa Rica has going on is not going to be a shock. The only thing I have concerns about is illneses flys and mosquitos can spread. Then there’s scorpians and snakes. Those are my concern. How are they on the West Coast,on the Guanacaste Penisula? If we are a couple of miles back in, down past Samara, how is it in that location for posionous snakes?

    The place we are wanting is thick with growth, it has a spring, and we will be building ourselves. It had been cleared at one time, however now it’s been reclaimed by all sorts of vegetation and we’re wondering just what we might encounter in that location. I have a loss of feeling in my left foot and if anything were to bite me me or sting me on it, I wouldn’t know right away, so that’s a concern, not a great one, but something I need to think about. I know wearing a pair of rubber boots while we clear out some things is something I will need to do.

    We’ve only known of one rattlesnake here on our property, and we think it came in on a car as a hitchiker, as it’s the only one anyone has ever seen here. It was striking at our neighbor. He had his shovel with him and killed it.

    If we are going to need auxillary electric power, should we bring a generator with us, or should we buy one down there? Also, how is the best way to use spring water? Can we tap down into one without going very deep to put in a pump without having to install a cistern or a tank? We don’t want tanks or cisterns if we can avoid it. We had a cistern in Oregon, they’re a hassle to say the least. Submersible pumps should work with direct lines to the house, shouldn’t they? I know that oftentimes they need to be hooked up to a presure tank, which would be ok, but a cistern is not something we want to end up with.

    One fellow who is wanting to buy our ranch wants to throw in a fairly new Ford Diesel crew cab, larger then most, can’t remember the model name, and we hear the tariffs are really high, and now with fuel costs hitting such highs, what is happening with diesel in Costa Rica? I hear there are movements which are trying to get the C.R. government to do away with the higher taxes on diesel fuel, or at least roll them back. what do you hear? What’s up with that? Would we be wise to have anything which runs on diesel? Is it a fuel which is readily available, etc?

    Also, with the your weather being so constant, with “two seasons”, as a Tico friend of our daughter tells her, saying there’s summer and the rainy season, so, do plants still have their dormant season? Say like tomato’s, squash, etc, or like flower bulb plants, perennial flowers, and annuals such as zennias, daisy’s, etc. We have definate seasons here where we are due to how very cold it gets.

    About crime, we live out in the country, and crime in our area has been surprising and extremely violent. I mean people have died, people we knew, their murderers had prowled here at our place. Then too, we’ve had things stolen out of our pickup,while in town, and our neigbors have been burgalarized several times. We had a Columbian on our place looking for a neighbor who was one of their dealers down in Hollywood, so we realize that crime is everywhere, Costa Rica doesn’t have a monopoly on it, in fact, you are probably more crime free than we are, more crime free than most states, counties and cities here in the U.S.

    OK, back to bugs, we expect them and they’re the least of what concerns us. Electricity, water and navigable roads are what I wonder about. We’ve had our prolems with the last three right here, and that can become a big problem.

  8. Julie on July 10, 2008 5:12 pm

    Thanks for the pic, Tim!
    We brought back a “guest” once from Costa Rica – a nice big black cockroach (not solid black tho, and not shiny). I was kinda hoping this was the one you talked about, but no. Ours didn’t mind the light, moved pretty slowly, and seemed to die out after a few months. We did see a couple of babies, but then they to were gone.
    I tried looking them up on the web, but the focus is all on German cockroaches and other known nasty ones.
    Some day I’m gonna take a lot of pics of all the different bugs. I spent my first month in Orosi constantly asking “is this a good bug or a bad bug?” The normal answer from Ticas was “not bad,” from Gringos, the answer was “if it’s in the house, it’s bad.” 😀

  9. Pau on December 3, 2008 4:04 pm

    Oh God. BUGS. I’m actually Costa Rican and I’ll never deny the bug things. I actually thought it was worse than in any other place I had been (and I’ve lived in Guatemala as well, and the “abejones de mayo” (june bugs) rain around semana santa, it’s quite disgusting).Then I moved to Valencia, Venezuela and wow… I was left completely speechless. Yeah I’m sweet-blooded but it’s just crazy here. Mosquitoes here are killers, they will go through your clothes so no jeans won’t save you. And the roaches here are twice as big as back home. I mean they can move their heads, it’s was very creepy. But anyways I feel your pain with the whole ants thing, I’ve always have had to battle them in my house. It’s pretty crazy, they’ll make these HUGE paths. I’ll see one in my living room and will follow it around and I’ll find where they go into upstairs in my bedroom or computer room. It’s quite impressive.

  10. Ken on January 12, 2009 1:32 pm

    This is a moving question:
    Does anyone know the current tax status on personal goods shipped into CR. I do know about the cars but not other persoal goods. There had been an exemption for NA residents to move goods in and buy ‘one time’ tax free large ticket items but this has been discontinued as I understand it…many, many hyears ago. Thank you.

  11. Levi on December 10, 2009 3:24 pm

    Okay can anyone tell me where I can find Borax powder here in Costa Rica? I live in Perez Zeledon, near San Isidro del General. I really need some of that stuff.

  12. barbara Biggs on January 17, 2011 7:41 pm


    I’ve been looking everywhere to try to find the Teflon tape you mention here which bugs can’t crawl on.

    I don’t suppose you can help me find it by telling me the name, who makes it? Anything at all would help.



  13. masha on January 28, 2013 3:46 pm

    Hi guys. Question for the ones who live here in Costa Rica. Were can I buy Borax. As in US I just get it in the Wallmart, not here. I got the other day Accido Borico in one of the pulperias, but its not the same thing. Please advise.