Bug eating chickens: My secret weapon August 11, 2012
I hate to admit it, but I am terrified of large, ugly insects. I love furry and feathered animals; I can handle pet mice, pet rats, reptiles, and even slimy amphibians… but most critters with more than four legs are extremely creepy to me. Thanks to lizards, geckos, toads—and of course our wonderful bug eating chickens —crawling insects are rare in our home and backyard, and we’ve had no need for exterminators or bug sprays.
However, last week, as I stepped into the dining room, I saw a horrific sight! A large, 1.5″ long American Cockroach was moseying across my floor. I hadn’t seen one of these for years and stood there frightened and unable to move for a few seconds. I was barefoot, and my first thought was that I needed to find a large shoe to throw at it, but at the same time, I could not afford to take my eyes off this creature and have it escape. Horrors of all horrors—if this bug was to escape—I would not be able to sleep at night for fear it would crawl up onto my bed.
Normally, in situations such as this, I would call on my husband for help, but since he was out of town, the following story unfolds:
I call out for my teenage daughter to find a shoe for me, a shoe that will make a good whacking instrument. Dear Daughter responds that she will not help me murder it, but instead, wants to save its life—ugh! She grabs a bowl and paper as tools for performing a heroic ’capture and release’, but then chickens out. When she realizes neither of us are brave enough to approach it, and I have convinced her it isn’t safe to leave the roach alone, (since she also has no desire to have a cockroach climb up on the couch with her), she concedes.
We try the shoe, but don’t have enough gumption to get close enough to squish this hideous creature. By now, the cockroach has scurried behind a small bookshelf to hide and I have yet another idea. I send my daughter to look for a spray—any type. We don’t own any bug spray, but I am hoping some type of cleaner will work.
I am now armed with spray cleaner in one hand and a shoe in the other (just in case), but still don’t feel very confident. I can’t stand the thought of squishing the horrid insect and am nervous that the cleaner won’t work. I ask my daughter to slowly move the bookshelf away from the wall, which she does, but the cockroach does not cooperate. Instead, it clings onto the underside of the shelf.
Still terrified and creeped out, I dread the idea of having to coax or prod this hideous bug to come out of its hiding place when I have a terrific idea. I realize at that moment that I know just who to call on to rescue us: one of our wonderful bug eating chickens.
My daughter guards the shelf, while I hurry out to retrieve Pepper, our 4 year old Barred Plymouth Rock. Suddenly brave, since I now know I don’t have to get quite so close, I use a broom handle to nudge the large insect onto the floor and only a few seconds later, that nasty cockroach is gobbled up by our courageous hen.
Pepper was a hero that night and truly enjoyed her reward (I guess I was more of a chicken than she was!)
There are many reasons keeping chickens is a good idea. Using a chicken to catch a scary bug (like using a cat to catch a mouse) is something I hadn’t thought of before last week, but our bug eating chickens really saved us that night!
Which chicken breed makes the best bug eater… or what hidden benefit of owning chickens has surprised you? Please share your thoughts in the comments!