Our house is infested by fleas. I did not know of this not so little fact about our home despite my four year olds little body being covered in tiny little bite. “It is ants or mosquitos” both my husband and I thought until we hired a mobile pet grooming service to come and give our cats what is known as a lion haircut.
This was the first time we were giving them a haircut and since the cats are exclusively indoor cats, I thought it would be a convenient and safe approach to reduce the shedding, the matting and the hairballs (all the great things that come with having long hair cats). I was in the van while the groomer, shaved our cats and one of the first things she said was, “have you treated their fleas?”. Fleas! What on earth was she talking about! These are indoor cats, they have never, EVER had fleas. It turns out, I was wrong. They do, courtesy of our last year’s move to Dallas. Where these nasty little creatures came from is besides the point and as I learned, they had not only been torturing our poor cats, but in fact were responsible for the nasty bites on my daughter and on occasion myself.
Yep we had a problem on our hands and just how big a problem it was, turned out to be way beyond our wildest imagination. After spending hundreds of dollars in grooming, vet fee, flea bath, skin and oral anti flea medications and a hefty $300 to a professional pest control company to come and spray our house full of toxins, washing all washable things and discarding pet bedding and furniture, not to mention daily vacuuming of the house, we still have the problem. Except now that the cats are not as enticing a choice, the humans of the house have become feast to these nasty creatures.
So fleas, these nasty creatures that I had only seen on paper, in fact do exist. That set me off to read more about these types and in fact all types of parasites. Web definition of a parasite is An organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense. That is what differentiates bloodsucking parasites such as fleas from say mosquitos who also live on blood but don’t live in or on their host.
Now my intention with writing this little piece was partly to vent about the nasty on going problem in our house and perhaps get some advice (the newest weapon I am using is flea lamps around the house which has trapped hundreds of the little bloodsuckers). But really what inspired me to write about is was the term “infestation”, a word made by humans, to describe organisms that interfere with our humanly ways. What differentiates me, who also depends on other organisms to thrive and survive without any benefit to the other organism be it plants or animal sources of food from a parasite? Of course my dependence on resources which I use selfishly without returning the favor extends beyond that of my food source. I depend on the mother earth for survival and in fact I live “on” it qualifying me as a parasite to earth if one considered earth to be a living organism. Perhaps not in the traditional sense of word, but this little planet of ours is a living breathing organism, is it not? It nourishes life, breathes and blows air and steam out, has secretions, excretions and many other functionalities that we associate with living organisms.
Is it not that earth is in fact infested by us humans? We, the living parasites, have overrun and invaded it, rapidly depleting it of its resources without any benefit to the host – Earth. Another planet looking at earth, it could in fact consider our blue planet to be an “infested” planet. So what makes me better than fleas and pests that I have set out to destroy? Nothing really! I am no better but as I open yet another aerosol can of poison and use disposable traps, and such around the house, I don’t really care if I am any better than these little bloodsuckers. I am a mother on a mission and I will fight this to the nail and tooth so that my little girl doesn’t have to suffer another bite.
But this poses another question, if I am so clever as to come up with using traps, toxins and other means of “mass destruction” on organisms that for one reason or another, I want eradicated from my life, what if mother Earth, also resorts to such measure? What if all the natural disasters from diseases to tornados and floods to earthquakes and landslides are ways the blue planet is trying to “reduce” the infestation of humans? What if even human madness, murder and war are ways mother Earth attempts to cleanse itself of this persistent and rather resistant problem we call “Humanity”? What if …?