I know many of you could relate to my bug battle last week because you told me so. Well, there's more.
What I hadn't realised at the time was that, on the same night, a son upstairs was having his own war but using a different technique. In one hand he held a spray can of insect exterminator spray, in the other the torch on his phone.
It must have been like one of those old war films up there. Do you remember those ones set in London where giant beams roamed the night sky looking for enemy fighters?
I wouldn't be at all surprised if my son was wearing dark clothing and had smeared black stuff on his face.
He reports that it worked but it was ongoing. So was World War II.
Now, you might be thinking that we are a very bad family using insect sprays and the like. I agree with you in principle but sometimes desperation takes over. Anyway, to help make up for my sins I've undertaken a little research and found some harmless ways to combat your invasions and I feel duty-bound to pass them on.
My source – I wasn't willing to explore more than one as they might have contradicted each other – told me that flies hate basil. So, before you go pounding the leaves into pesto, place pots of the herb near doorways and open windows and, hey pesto, flies will (possibly) stay away.
I can't imagine this working in outback Australia, though. You'd need a good acre of basil plants around each house then you'd be stuck with an oversupply of pesto.
Another option is to use your dog. Many dogs seem to enjoy snapping flies from their flight as if they were airborne raisins.
My source also told me I could keep spiders away using citrus fruits. This is probably the reason you don't see a lot of spiders climbing into your gin and tonic. Maybe it's also the reason people stick a wedge of lime into a bottle of Corona beer. I can think of no other reason.
For ants, the trick is vinegar. Wherever you've seen ants, wipe the surface with 50/50 vinegar and water several times a day. It's supposed to destroy the scent trails ants use for navigation. Well, that's what the source says and may the source be with you.
I see an alternative vinegar plan. Yes, use the vinegar solution but leave a clear path untainted by vinegar and leading to someone else's home.
Cockroaches were not dealt with by my source so I will just have to fill that gap myself. We can either admit defeat – they will eventually take over the world – or use the very natural tool of the sole of our shoe to stomp on them. But there are side effects which I don't have space to go into here.
And do not try this if your target cockroach is on the ceiling.
Another technique you could try is to dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in half a cup of warm water. But it won't do anything.
Mozzies were dealt with by my source so let's return to them to finish up. The suggested weapon was catnip. While cats love it, mosquitoes don't.
Undiluted catnip oil on the skin will apparently provide up to two hours of protection from the airborne enemy. How you turn catnip into catnip oil was not covered in the article so I'll need to stick with the Off.
If the guilt gets too much for me, I'll just have to let a live frog take up permanent residence on my head.
Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.