Memphis is great and all but, I must admit, the bugs are freaking me out.
Kyle doesn't usually like to kill bugs. If he finds a spider or an ant in the house, he usually tries to take them outside or lets them go about their business undisturbed. Not all bugs are created equal, though, so neither of us feels bad about killing cockroaches. Especially after living in an old apartment in downtown Sofia where our pest-complaints were met by our landlord's suggestion that we should be happy about the situation. In Sofia living with cockroaches is prestigious because it's a sign you live in an old building, the guy liked to say. Yeah, whatever. We rolled up old newspapers and hit them really hard. That way we didn't have to watch them agonize. One second they were there, the next they were dead.
The first night Kyle and I saw a cockroach in our kitchen here in Memphis, we both just sort of stood there, staring at it. It was so big, we could not believe it. Then, we had to kill it, of course. But it was so big, our usual paper-rolling technique didn't cut it. The bug was tough and it seemed to have all the resolve in the world to keep on livin'. It didn't fight or run. It just would not die. Dealing with it felt less like getting rid of a bug and more like murder. Whatever you want to call it, it was gross.
We had two or three scary evenings where we would slowly walk into our kitchen, inspecting the walls, looking under the table, cleaning out all dishes before using them. We found bug-traps and put them around the house... but then... wait a minute. You use traps or poison if there's a finite population of pests you are trying to exterminate. In a place like Memphis where the weather is warm and humid for most of the year and things (plants AND animals) seem to grow uninterrupted by bad weather or some such, poison is simply a way to attract pests into your home.
Instead, Kyle did some research and found out that there are certain natural products that give cockroaches the creeps. Those things are: red pepper, cedar chips, mint oil and bay leaves. We got ourselves a bottle of TABASCO sauce, which we put in a spray bottle and mixed in with some water until we had our very first batch of home-made pepper spray. We used the mix to spray our kitchen counters, between cabinet cracks and all those little spaces that the cockroaches seemed to love. I am happy to report that there have been no roach sightings since.
I am sharing this story because I hope it will inspire you to never go down without putting up a good fight. In the age of the internets you really have no excuse! You MUST be willing to do your research and look for alternative solutions to whatever problems you may be dealing with. But also, let's face it, this bug-repellent recipe is way too awesome not to be passed along.