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When I left off, I had mentioned a common, but nasty insect problem I was experiencing  and promised to provide details as soon as it was addressed. Here's the story:

Comejen, Termitos y Otros Insectos

We discovered that the little, round wood balls (smaller than a grain of sand) that we started seeing as far back as a year ago was the sign of an infestation of comejen and probably other termite varieties as well. Every morning, the little wooden balls would be on the floor, on the dining table and on the sofa. The only thing above these "droppings" was our vaulted wood ceiling about 20 feet up. We learned from our online investigation and queries that while these pests are a common problem, they are also very difficult to battle and eradicate.

We immediately called an exterminator from San Jose we had used in the past. After seeing the droppings, the exterminator also said he thought we had comejen and he sprayed in the usual places exterminators spray as well as spraying the ceiling as best he could using a  tall ladder we had borrowed. In about six weeks, the droppings began to reappear.

We again contacted a bunch of our Tico friends and other long-time ex-pats. We got lots more advice and referrals. One avenue took us to a contractor recommended on the Que Pasa website. After two inspections, he said the only way for him to guarantee not having me angrily approach him in two years and tell him that the critters had returned, was to remove the mission tile, the galvanized sub-roof, metal roof support structure, wooden rafters, wooden ceiling and wooden eaves and replace every wooden piece with all new, dried hardwood and, then put the rest of the roof elements back where they belonged. He said it would take about six weeks to complete and would cost $30,000. I am certain that he was being honest and sincere about it being the only way he could guarantee results for our job, but the solution seemed extreme, as did six weeks of camping out in our home, and that quote figure was out of the question. So, we continued to look for an alternative solution.

Enter our friend, Ivo Henfling, owner of GoDutchRealty and a 30-year resident of Costa Rica and Tom Rosenberger (read about his roof services on the Que Pasa site), who both recommended we contact Jose Pedro Sanchez. Jose Pedro is a licensed engineer and owns Habitat Xeropiagas in Atenas. Jose Pedro belongs to several national and international pest control associations and is a member of an international pest control council. He's spent time working in the pest-control industry in Argentina and the States, speaks English and is one of a few formally trained pest management engineers in Costa Rica. He came out to our house with his assistant inspected and took samples (mostly for his daughter, I think, who is a biologist). Jose Pedro told us of one type of termite here that sports four identical wings. it flies fly about until it finds some nice edible cellulose, drop its wings, calls its friends. They all start dining and finally pick one of them to be transformed into the queen and, hence, a new colony of termites begins in a new location.

Jose Pedro is much in demand as our problem is common in houses of a similar wooden ceiling construction. A week after his inspection, I was finally able to reach Jose Pedro by phone again after repeated attempts and he set a tentative treatment date. I wasn't able to reach him again until the day before his crew showed up (more about why he was out of pocket and difficult to reach in an upcoming Que Pasa update). He sent his crew without him (for the same interesting reason as above). Up went enough scaffolding to reach the highest 20-foot peak of our ceiling. The treatment included techniques and equipment Jose Pedro brought with him from the States and the solution was fairly high-tech. It included: sonar detection; micro drilling; injection of a special insecticide; and a cavity expansion material.  We left the house for a few hours before a cloud spray was used to also treat the inside and outside of our eaves. The total cost of the treatment was much less than 2% of the $30,000 quote for the radical solution we had previously received. We are to keep our eyes open and if we have any further sign of the critters, the crew will return for an additional treatment.

Jose Pedro also recommended setting up a regular pest control program to discourage future infestations. With a recommendation from Que Pasa subscriber, Linn Engler, we also have hired Lawrence Delgado, a pest-control specialist from Grecia to come every four months to spray our roadpie (baseboards) and our home's exterior footprint. The first spraying was a week ago and based on all of the dead ants, spiders and even a large, deceased scorpion on the inside of our front door, the first treatment is working quite well.  

from the Editor




About Us: Qué Pasa is a collaboration by 3 ex-pats in Grecia and Sarchi
who saw a need in our community and are working to fill it.
They are all from the US, all professionals in their fields, and are all enjoying retirement.

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