Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Managing my office ecosystem

I live and work in the tropics, and my office is neither air-conditioned nor sealed to the outside. As a result, I am not alone. There is no getting around this, so the trick is to manage it. The pest species that live in my office are:

  • very tiny but extremely numerous ants (I don't know what they are eating, since I keep no food in my office, but they nest in stacks of paper and were ultimately responsible for the partial destruction of my Ph.D. diploma last fall)
  • Silverfish (I know what they are eating, and it's my expensive and hard-to-replace books)

The predator species include:

  • Small jumping spiders (that for some reason live behind the posters on my bulletin board, so there is Daily Drama right in front of me when they come out to hunt)
  • Some other kind of spider (from the evidence of the webs, which the jumping spiders don't build, in undisturbed corners)
  • Geckos (sometimes. Despite not being chameleons, they come and go, they come and go)

Occasional visitors:

  • Mynah birds from the fruiting palms outside
I haven't seen many ants recently since I broke down (after the diploma incident) and put out ant baits. The silverfish are not numerous, but occasionally I see one, so I know they've got some kind of sustained population somewhere, and I shudder to think where; but until I get tenure I'm not going to have the time to go through my entire book collection to find the Silverfish Fortress of Solitude.

The mynah birds aren't that much help; they don't come in very often, they're useless when they do (the last one who actually took something when he left took a used blue Kleenex, which doesn't do a thing for my bug problem), and they'd be just as happy to eat the geckos as the silverfish - in fact, probably happier.

The spiders appear to be pretty efficient, judging from the number of desiccated ant corpses I swept up under my desk recently; but as with anything in the insect world, it's a war of attrition. A certain amount of spider predation appears to be built in to the ant game plan. So while I try to encourage them (tiny spider cheers, not changing my posters too often) I feel that they are long-term partners, not short-term solutions.

The geckos could probably be counted on for some serious bug control, except that they are too infrequent visitors. The guy two offices down has a gecko who actually sleeps on his laptop's power converter (which is always warm) but do I have that kind of luck? No. I'm telling you, next time I find gecko eggs on the windowsill I'm going to move them indoors and train them up on the power converter from birth. So what if they leave gecko poop all over the walls? It's a small price to pay. Chuck Norris (of blessed memory), the unstoppable three-legged gecko of Puhala Rise, will forever be remembered for his stunning ability to catch and scarf down roaches. In his memory, I'm looking out for Chuck Junior: The Office Edition.

Yes, for volume and efficiency, it seems like geckos are the best possible approach. So that's my New Year's resolution for my office for 2009: More Small Reptiles.

1 comment:

mindy said...

And that right there is why, though I very much enjoy visiting the Tropical Climes, I could never actually live in one.