Mom Arrives to a Swarm of Termites

by | Jan 17, 2011 | Johannesburg, Melville and Surrounds | 14 comments

My mother arrived yesterday for a 10-day stay in South Africa. It’s wonderful to have her here.

It’s Mom’s first time in Africa and Joe and I want to make her stay as nice and comfortable as possible. Before she came we spent quite a bit of time arranging the furniture in the guest room, clearing closet space, etc. We’re very pleased with our work.

Our guest room has a great view of the garden and the Melville Koppies in the background.

We arrived home from the airport and showed Mom to her room. It was dusk. I opened the window to let in some air and turned on the bedside lamp. Then we left the room.

When we came back a few minutes later, the room was swarming with flying termites. Welcome to Africa, Mom! There must be a nest outside the window and they like to come out after the rain. (Sadly, no photos. I didn’t have my camera handy.)

We managed to get most of the termites out by turning off the light in the room and turning the back porch light on to attract the swarm. Then we stood by the window and watched as the termites flew up into the sky in search of a new nest. There were hundreds and hundreds of them.

Soon we realized we weren’t the only ones interested in the termites. Several cats ran excitedly through the garden. Birds and bats swooped through the air, snacking on termites as they flew.

Then, a pair of fuzzy rat ears appeared over the edge of the veranda roof. As the three of us watched in wonder (or horror), the rat reached up with his paws, snatched a termite from the air, and chowed down. He ran along the length of the roof, tail outstretched, and disappeared from view. A second rat joined the action.

I was thrilled by the rats’ hunting prowess. Joe and Mom were not so thrilled. Mom keeps asking why the rats don’t crawl into the house through the open windows. I have no answer for her but I can only say it hasn’t happened since I arrived (as far as I know).

I’ll have more to say about Mom’s visit in my next several posts. In the meantime, here is a photo I took today when we visited the Giraffe Centre, a funky shop at the corner of 7th Street and 2nd Avenue in Melville. It’s packed floor-to-ceiling with African art and souvenirs — a great place to to take out-of-town visitors.

Paper mache guinea fowl at the Giraffe Centre. Mom bought two.


  1. tanner24

    Quite a welcome for you mother: termites, cats, birds, bats, and rats! I’m willing to bet she’ll sleep with her window closed. Love seeing the African crafts! Thanks for sharing.

  2. 2summers

    She kept the window closed at first, but believe it or not she did reopen it during the night! Brave woman.

  3. Bob Yule

    Two things:
    How come you didn’t take me to the Giraffe Centre?
    How come my most recent visit didn’t make the blog? Yeah, it was brief, but special.

    But seriously, welcome to your mom!

    • 2summers

      Sorry Bob, your visit was unfortunately sandwiched between cricket and mom’s arrival. But you’re right, I should’ve found a way to work you in. Please accept my sincere apologies.

      • Bob Yule

        Well, I’ll let it slide this time. I should have done or said something broad and thematic to warrant a stand-along blog. Sigh. I guess dinner at the Lucky Bean and breakfast at Die Agterplaas is not new, despite being fabulous.

      • 2summers

        If your room at Die Agterplaas had been attacked by flying termites…

  4. lisa@notesfromafrica

    I’d prefer not to have the rats around either – no matter how good their hunting skills!

    Am sure that you and Joe will be excellent guides in showing your mother around. If she’s been reading your blog, she’ll know a lot about South Africa already.

    Love those paper mache guinea fowl! 🙂

    • 2summers

      She reads religiously! But reality is much better than the blogosphere 🙂

  5. Tilly Bud

    I’d forgotten the flying termites! Probably blocked the memory; I hated them. As a child, Paul used to go out with his mates and a tennis racket and thwack them. Once married to me, he wasn’t allowed to open the door because I wouldn’t take the risk of them coming in the house. Such a wuss I was!

    I had a huge pm guinea fowl as a door stop; I loved it but I had to leave it behind. I never thought of buying a small one until I read this post 🙂

  6. Slowvelder

    Oh boy – what a welcome 🙂
    It sounds though that she has managed to settle in anyway. I’m glad you’ll get to spend some time with her.

  7. adminsmit

    Some of my best life was lived i melville – so this makes me homesick!! Hope you have a great time. There used to be a great little cafe /bistro call the Question Mark that morphed into the Full Stop perhaps some other piece of punctuation. Also one of the best hairdressers – terenzos – for a great cut!

    • 2summers

      Thanks! The Full Stop Cafe moved to Parkhurst, sadly. I haven’t heard of Terenzos but I’ve gone to a place called Hamish Sebastian on 7th Street that is great.

  8. amblerangel

    The termite infestation is an amazing and hilarious story! Well- for the reader anyway. Love the blog!

    • 2summers

      It was quite hilarious. Just one of several insect adventures around here lately 🙂 Thanks for reading!


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