When the realtor first showed us the house I ended up buying, she pointed towards the beautiful green conservation zone behind the house. She explained that it meant there would be no more houses built behind us and waxed poetic about the gorgeous view. Then she said,
“Terri, you’ll have WILDLIFE!”
Almost as soon as the words passed her lips, she changed the subject, as if she immediately realized that the existence of wildlife in the backyard would not be everyone’s cup of tea. She needn’t have worried. I immediately conjured up visions of Bambi and Thumper shyly inching their way to my back door, as I coaxed them ever forward with carrots. Maybe I’d even build a saltlick. I saw them giving me their trust and nuzzling against me. In my imagination, the wildlife might even have broken into song.
Instead of Bambi and Thumper, the wildlife consists of birds and lizards. Lots of lizards. The birds are pretty innocuous, although kind of noisy at times. We have what must be wonderful windows and insulation because it can be quiet as can be inside until I open a door in the evening. Then, the volume and variety of bird sounds is quiet amazing. The cacophony they create outside at night is comparable to a middle school orchestra tuning up. The birds are kind of cool to watch during the day and I can’t hear them at night with the doors and windows closed up, so the bird wildlife is not a problem.
The lizards didn’t really bother me, either. Most people will tell you that lizards are good to have around because they eat insects. I don’t want them in my house, but I’m perfectly happy to live and let live as long as they do their living outside the structure where I do my living. Max, on the other hand, became the great white hunter of lizards. He was completely convinced that, if we did not do something to banish the lizards from our property, they would take over the garage and house. He fretted that, once in the house, we would not be able to get them out because they are such fast little buggers. He worried that they would raise a whole colony of baby lizards and I would rue the day I ever said, “they don’t bother me.” I think he pictured them taking over the television remote control and fiddling with the air conditioner settings.
My research into lizard control told me that nothing can reliably reduce lizard population. The most common suggestion was to get a cat, which I thought might be a good answer until I realized that the cat would not necessarily get rid of lizards, just kill them and bring them to me as love offerings. While I don’t want live lizards in my house, I really don’t want dead ones either. Especially dead ones gift-wrapped in cat spit.
Another big suggestion was to use insecticides to kill the bugs the lizards eat, thereby discouraging the lizards from showing up for the buffet at our house each day. After trying several different insecticides and putting out mothballs to minimize the bugs, there might have been a slight decrease in the lizard sightings. Or there might not have been.
Max followed the lizard abatement school of thought that we should minimize (read eliminate) the foliage around the house, thus destroying the lizard hiding places. He thought we should have more rock and stone instead of dirt and shrubbery. He thought we should cut all the shrubbery down to the stumps and maybe put out some potted artificial plants. Besides being a lot of work and expensive to have someone do this, I didn’t want to do it. First, I didn’t think the homeowners’ association that objected to a small patch of discolored lawn would be too keen on landscaping that consisted of bare stumps topped with potted plastic petunias. The rules for landscaping are pretty restrictive. Second, I didn’t want an ugly yard and I have to say that stumps sounded pretty ugly to me. Third, I didn’t think anything we did was going to get rid of the lizards so I objected to taking extraordinary measures to try to do so.
While our disagreement on lizard abatement strategy waged on, Max took to looking for lizards in the front and back yard and dousing them with glasses of cold water. He’d go outside, see a lizard, come in grumbling, “fucking lizards,” get a glass of water, and throw the water on said lizard. I’m sure the neighbors were referring to him as the “crazy lizard guy.” He really believed he was going to train the entire lizard population to stay away from our house because those who were foolish enough to venture near would spread the word to the rest of them about the icy showers that awaited them.
Finally, after weeks of Max “convincing” (in other words, nagging) me to do something about the landscaping, I capitulated. I just couldn’t bear to hear another word about the “fucking lizards.” I did insist, though, that we were not just going to lop off shrubs and leave stumps in the ground. I called a landscaper and explained our goal of mitigating the lizard population. I basically let Max make all the decisions about what the landscaper should do so he could be satisfied that all possible means were being employed to eliminate the lizards. I just kept veto power to ensure that the yard did not end up looking like a bomb site. The landscaper told us he could not eliminate the lizards, but could do some things to minimize them, like taking out a couple of bushes and replacing them with a certain kind of tree that would be less hospitable to lizards. He also suggested covering some of our bare dirt with stones and ornamental rocks. Of course, none of this was cheap, but I thought it would look nice when it was done. Whether it would have any impact on the lizard population, I wasn’t too sure. Personally, I would have thought that decorating the yard with large ornamental rocks would be somewhat akin to building a habitrail for reptiles, but what do I know?
Now that the work has been done, it does indeed look nice. I’m very proud of it. Did it get rid of the lizards? The dirty little secret is that I don’t think it did. Max says it did, but I’m sure he doesn’t want me to realize that I paid a lot of money, at his insistence, to fix a problem that still exists. I still see him going out of the house with tumblers of water to throw on the invaders. The thing is, now he does it very surreptitiously and without a word about the “fucking lizards.”
So I got what I paid for.
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Have a wonderful day!