When the night comes falling


At 7.30pm the siren sounded sending the childers into a nervous state of excitement; screeching with delight they all ran into the bathroom which isn’t exactly the safe room but it was where I was, bathing their sister.  Daddy came in too and little brother was shouting ‘emergency, emergency’.  No. 1 son was busy explaining that it was an exercise and that we all had to make sure we were together and in a safe place, he’d been through it earlier in a more orderly fashion when the alarm had sounded at lunchtime at nursery.  Daddy did a roll call, ‘here’ and when it was quiet they all trooped out and carried on as if nothing had happened.  Nothing had happened, it was a practice.  But it shakes me every time, what if, what if, what if.

Something else had been shaken and awoken in the garden and as night fell, the childers safely tucked up and snoring, I heard rustling in the dry leaves in the garden.  The neighbourhood cats often prowl in the garden, they drink from the paddling pool and pop it so I looked out to see if I could see it to shoo it away.  No cat.  But movement.  In the trees, in the fallen leaves.  A movement caught my eye, a crazed cockroach, the length of my finger running up and down the tree trunk. Euyuk.  The rustling was getting louder and was coming from further down the garden so being the hero I am, I sent husband to investigate.  Even he was horrified as he came upon a large group of large cockroaches all running up and down tree trunks, flying (yes, some can fly) between low branches and running through the dead leaves.  These cockroaches are like something from Indiana Jones, very fast-moving, giant with enormous antenna.  In short, they are revolting and their speed just adds to their repulsiveness.


Husband quickly shut the fly net doors which thank goodness all our windows and doors are fitted with and turned on the outdoor lights so I could behold the spectacle.  Vomit.  Just vile.  Where did they all come from and why were they in that one patch of garden?  It was like they were on speed and having one big rave in a patch of my garden.  Husband went around the whole house closing every window, blocking the space under the front door and plugging the sinks and baths (just in case) and then we went to bed. One ear cocked for a rustle.

We’ve had a history of cockroaches in this house.  When we moved in I was pregnant with the twins and we were advised not to get the exterminator in to spray the house as the chemicals used were dangerous for the babies.  The odd night-time visitor was horrible, but better a cockroach than harming the babies.  The babies arrived late summer and as they were so tiny we again decided not to spray and risk the babies’ health.  One afternoon we went out leaving our bedroom window open, there was a hole in the net.  As I climbed into bed one ran across the sheets, and these buggers can really run. Emitting a strange deep-throated yelp I ran from the room while husband chased it with a shoe.  Hysterical – I was 4 weeks post birth and the babies were asleep in their cribs in the bedroom – I was eventually persuaded it had been destroyed and it was safe to go back.  ‘It could have been worse’ I said, ‘it could have been in one of the babies’ cribs’, famous last words as I spotted a waving antenna from underneath a cuddly sitting on the top of the crib. Horror.  After the monster had been flicked to the floor I wheeled the 2 cribs out of the room and listened as husband whacked the floor with a shoe, swore ‘another one’, ‘another one’.  We were infested.  I sat sobbing on the sofa with my Mum who was over to help, incredulous that the babies and our 2-year-old were still sleeping and vowing to leave the house and Israel and anywhere with warm weather at the first opportunity.

The following year with the net fixed and the kids and I away the exterminator came in and sprayed.  Our indoors visitors are now a rarity.  He pointed out that the date palms and banana plants in the garden were prime cockroach territory.  Put me off bananas that’s for sure.

incident site - innocent site come the morning

incident site – innocent site come the morning

And so the mystery remains.  What awoke the creatures last night? What did they like so much about that part of my garden? Were they taking part in their own air raid exercise?  Where are they now and will they return tonight?  It may be cold and rainy in the UK but at least the bugs aren’t monster sized.   Sweet dreams everyone.


11 responses »

  1. Ewwwwww that is the stuff of nightmares. I share your hatred of those disgusting things. Unfortunately we have them too but not as bad as your impromptu ravers . . . So far – shudder!

    • When the rustling got louder and the leaves were moving I thought we were in for a full on horror movie. Just disgusting – but they don’t bite like your spiders!!

  2. My house in Belize had some that I swear were the size of a clam, and I would only see them at night, in the neon light and against the porcelain sink in the only bathroom in the village with running water (my house… which I lived in strategically – more on that later). What do you mean by “nets” on the window? Screens? Like I would have to keep Mosquitos out? As an anthropologist, I need a picture of these “nets” – I’m having visions of your house draped in netting… lol.

    • Ha ha I directly translated it from Hebrew – reshet which is a net – been here too long!! Yes, screens. We have 3 lines of defense, sliding screen doors, sliding blinds and glass. Gets a bit hot at night when we close the lot but I am such a wuss these days after so many unpleasant encounters that better safe than sorry. I hate it when you come upon them just standing innocently in the bath with their antenna waving. By the way they were back last night. The banana plants are getting the chop and if I had my way the palms would go too!

  3. This is fascinating. Really (surprise!!). We have visited Israel a number of times, at various times of the year, and one of our self-catering places was next to a banana plantation. Another time we spent a month in an older apartment building with palms all around, including date palms. We have never seen a bug–and I’m always on the lookout. Like you, I’d want to be anywhere that they aren’t. I had no idea the problem could get so…out of hand. I’m terrified of the things. Hate them, hate them. Ugh. Wow. Food for thought (but not bananas).

    • It was the most horrible Indiana Jones moment when the rustling turned out to be hundreds of the blighters! Luckily they left as quickly as they came. I have no idea what caused the phenomena although we have since chopped down the bananas. Now the palms just bring bats which I don’t mind although their crap is a nightmare to get off washing and patio furniture…

      • Roach crap…a previously unconsidered ickiness factor. (Thank you for that!) My partner lived 6 years in Israel at Nahsholim and in Jerusalem in the ’70s, and he says he never saw a bug in his family’s multiple rentals–though I’m sure he must have from time to time. He added that luckily he’d never heard reports of the swarming you described from his daughter, who’s lived there for 30 years, which means it must not happen that often, right? Right?? Our month-long rental was in Zichron (October). The bananas were at Ein Ayala (March). I’m always on the lookout, because I admit those bugs terrify me. Irrational, perhaps, but that’s how it is. Your story definitely tempered our starry-eyed enthusiasm for spending winters in Israel. I’m not a blog-reader, but yours is exceptionally entertaining and thoughtful. I confess I’m hooked.

      • Thank you so much, I love it when people enjoy my blathering. The situation with the roaches was definitely a one off, we’ve never had it before and no-one else we know here had ever seen anything like it – just lucky I guess! hmmm Don’t let it put you off, as you’ll know from being here the bugs are the least of your worries!!

      • Good laugh about bugs being the least of my worries. Actually, I forget where I am, when I’m there, and consequently I forget to worry. I was scolded by an armed guard at Ramat HaNadiv for straying off the path to take photos. I took umbrage (silently) at his, um, scolding until I remembered where I was. He had appeared suddenly, and he walked away briskly–I didn’t get a chance to say thank you.

  4. Oh, wait, you referred to bat crap. Sorry I missed that detail. Bats are good. Bats are our friends.

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