Whatcha Gonna Do: Japanese Words for The War on Bugs

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When you move into a home in the Japanese countryside, you will soon realize that your house doesn’t belong to you. Although you may be paying the rent and filling it with furniture, the true masters of the domain are the bugs and vermin that have been living there for years. Lurking in your tatami, creeping around the skirting board and scuttling under your fridge, it’s enough to drive you crazy. When you see the umpteenth cockroach creeping its way across your floor, it may be time to declare war on bugs with the latest weaponry you can find!

The first weapon in any bug-busting arsenal should be ホイホイ. This is a kind of gooey trap that kills the pest by sticking it hard to the floor. As most bugs have limited lifespans, they will soon turn to mulch — attracting more bugs into your trap. Cue sadistic laughter — mwahahaha… !

The most common one is called a ゴキブリホイホイ (for cockroaches), but there are also コバエホイホイ (for those annoying little flies) and ノミホイホイ (flea traps). If your target is flying, you may want to try a similar product called ハエ取りかみ (fly paper) instead.

There is also a ネズミホイホイ (a mouse glue trap), but honestly, the thought of killing a mouse slowly in a swamp of goo seems kind of monstrous. Instead, you might want to try live trapping these wee beasties with a ねずみ捕獲ほかくカゴ. These wire boxes are left over the little critter’s hole and snap shut as soon as the animal enters it. There is even a black version so you don’t have to worry about even seeing the animal as you take it to somewhere as far away from your house as possible to release it.

For the fans of alliterative revenge, there is also pest poison. This leads to an incredibly useful word 殺虫剤さっちゅうざい (insecticide) which can be a spray (pronounced スプレー in Japanese) or as an edible (often called a ダンゴ) for the bugs. If your problem is the four-legged squeaking kind, you will want the slightly different 毒餌どくえ (poison bait) instead.

If you are a fan of this kind of chemical warfare but want something a little less lethal, an alternative may be 強力忌避きょうりょくきひ. This chemical compound gives a burning sensation to any part of the animal that it comes in contact with. While it doesn’t kill the pest in question, it may well be enough to persuade it to infest some other more comfortable place.

The final types of bugs that you will always need to blast are the pesky organisms that live off you and lurk everywhere in Japan. For the ダニ bugs that live deep in the tatami waiting to munch on your skin, ダニアースレッド (bug bomb) is a useful product for putting these tiny creatures on blast notice. Afterwards, hit those annoying flying bloodsuckers with 虫除けむしよけ (bug spray) or 蚊取り線香かとりせんこう (mosquito coil) to truly clean out your living space.

Reclaiming your apartment from the bugs can be a challenge and you will have to choose your tools appropriately. Whether your need to put down some ホイホイ and hope for the best or pack some canisters of 殺虫剤 to bring the smack down to some bugs, it’s time to weapon up and reclaim your throne from those tiny creatures that want to usurp you.

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