TruckStruck: Insects, Critters, & Vehicles

mouse next to wheels of truck

In an ideal world, critters and insects stay outdoors. We’re in, they’re out and that’s the way it should be. But when they do invade, it’s often sudden, scary, and not so funny all at the same time.

Everyone knows that once mice invade vehicles, especially those that have been parked for a while, shredded insulation and wires, droppings, and all a matter of havoc will show up. A retired driver we knew had a ’75 Corvette for sale. He thought his ship would come in once he sold it. He did nothing to prevent the rodent invasion so when he popped the hood for a potential buyer, the number of mice that scattered, leaving behind their torn and tattered world, quickly squelched the sale. He said to the buyer, “it was worth $7000 when I bought it in 1975.” The seller snapped, “back in ‘75 I was 170 pounds and had a head of hair but those days are gone too” as he sauntered back to his car, cash still in his pocket, shaking his head.

Little mice in big trucks can cause huge hazards. We were loaded heavy as we descended a mountain one pitch-black night. Our headlights were getting dimmer by the minute. We pulled over to assess what was causing this terror. It turned out that mice had chewed big chunks in our wiring harness, so we got out the wiring kit and tools, and by flashlight we spliced and taped enough to get us down to safety. Crisis averted!

A mechanic friend of ours lived in a run-down trailer and wasn’t much of a housekeeper after his wife left him. He relayed that he had an unwanted visitor in his bedroom recently. I was afraid this chat was getting too personal so I stayed silent as he continued. “I went to get my underwear out of the drawer and a raccoon stuck his head up out of a pile of socks so I hit him on the head with a frying pan and everything was fine.” I decided to keep my burning questions quiet such as how did a racoon get in there anyway and more so, who has a frying pan at the ready in their bedroom to fend off a critter in a sock drawer? This shouldn’t have surprised me because he was the same guy who climbed the utility pole at his place, stuck a fork in the works, and was able to get free electricity for about eight months until the electric cooperative caught on.

How about fire ants? If you’ve run Florida, all you have to do is step in a nest of fire ants like we did, and up your leg they’ll travel. Stings are intense and painful. Tracking them into the truck is what we did, and what a chore to get them out!

Speaking of Florida, all the years we ran it, we never had air conditioning. Talk about toughen-up buttercup – no frills on this ride! Not a total death wish but it would’ve been a luxury whereas nowadays no one would even consider running without it. Because of the heat and the amount of perishable products that come out of that state, refer (refrigerated) trailers are everywhere. Guaranteed wherever you park in a Florida truck stop, you will end up between two refer trailers and good luck sleeping. The constant screeching and churning sounds as the refer units cycle on and off are heard everywhere. The noise is continuous, and as soon as one stops another starts.

While backing into our parking spot one hot evening in Haines City, we heard the shrieking sounds. We decided rather than back into our spot we would pull in to avoid being next to the noise. It was so peaceful – why hadn’t we thought of this before? We also found a small body of water back there, like an oasis. We got our showers, ate, and went back to the truck to relax. With the sun set it was cooler, so we settled down to watch TV. We weren’t 20 minutes in when we were inundated with mosquitos! Our oasis was actually a swamp! We slapped, scratched, and were besieged with their high-pitched buzzing sounds in our ears. Our truck became a mosquito motel! We couldn’t put up the windows, it was entirely too hot. Our only alternative was to turn the truck around and suffer the screaming refers. We maybe got four hours of sleep until we decided to just get up and get down the road as we were under a tight dispatch window anyway.

Never underestimate the power of insects and critters…many are small but mighty or as Shakespeare said in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “though she be but little, she is fierce.”

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