Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ee-ew, that smell!

Nocturnal creature that I am, I finally crawled off to bed about 12:30 this morning only to be dragged from dreamland an hour later by a skunk. It's been a big summer for the little stinkers in southern Arizona, rabid ones included, but it had been a couple of weeks since the last uncomfortably close spray incident. I tried to ignore this one, hoping every moment that the worst was over and the stench would begin to fade, but over about thirty minutes the miasma thickened to choking intensity. This time the odor wasn't coming from across the wash or over at the neighbors' or even in our own yard - it was directly under our bedroom floor.

I finally threw open all the windows, cranked up the ceiling fans to "typhoon," sprayed the air liberally with a product that's supposed to neutralize odors, and took refuge on the couch. It wasn't easy getting back to sleep, between the stubborn smell and the over-revved ceiling fan letting out a sharp groan every few minutes as though it was about to come crashing down on me. By morning the reek had dissipated, and we could breathe again. Comparing notes on the ordeal, Tom and I discovered that we both had incorporated skunks into the dreams we had just before awakening to the odor.

So how do we evict our unwelcome neighbor? Blocking the skunk's access points isn't an immediate fix. It's an old frame house whose narrow subfloor crawlspace is enclosed by flimsy lattice, and claustrophobia is hard enough to deal with without the prospect of encountering scorpions and black widows. Though trapping might be the reasonable choice given the rabies issue, it's a last resort. Instead, we'll try beating the skunk at its own chemical-weapons game. When a woodrat (packrat) moved in and kept us awake by chewing on the floor joists, we drilled a hole in the floor as close to the sound as possible and poured vinegar down it. End of problem, until the next rat moved in a few months later. Another bottle of vinegar, another eviction. With luck, the skunk will get the idea and move on before we have to take more drastic measures. --SW

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