Lately the children and I have been itching a lot. No, we don’t have lice (although I have checked all of us repeatedly). Nor do we have fleas which was my initial concern (Don’t ask, I’ve always had a thing about fleas).
We actually have a psychosomatic skin condition known as Oh-My-God-Termites-Are-Eating-Our-Home. Whenever anyone starts talking about our termite problem, the rest of us start itching.
Apparently the retaining wall at the back of our garden is infested with termites. Behind an innocent façade of ageing sleepers and the beguiling haze of lavender bushes, lies a seething mass of house-devouring monsters (or Coptotermes as our Rentokil man referred to them).
We don’t just have any termites. There are 300 species of termites in Australia, some of them quite benign, peaceful even (as far as house eaters go). I’d be ok with the Tibetan version of a termite taking residence in our garden. But no, we have the Coptotermes Acinaciformas- they are small, white, aggressive and insatiable. Like mini-Storm Troopers marching (and eating) relentlessly towards the family home. When threatened, the Coptoterme soldier spurts out a white latex to attack his attacker. Forget mini-Storm Trooper, think mini-Alien. In termite circles, the Coptoterme is called the Super Termite. Yes, the Super Termite. Need I say more?
If I seem obsessed to you, now you know why. I don’t have lice and thankfully I don’t have fleas. I’m reviewing pest control companies instead of writing my novel. I am pondering chemical solutions and trying to find longitudinal research studies done on their side-effects on children. I am surrounded by Coptotermes, I am worried about the safety of the mothership, and I am very, very itchy.