Gordon: We were walking down a small road towards a viewpoint when Ruth suddenly sucked in her breath and clutched my arm. My eyes darted about looking for the threat. “What is it?” I said. “Dead rat” Ruth replied. I relaxed and dismissed the threat, saying “We see those all the time.” And we do. An introduced species, as are all non-marine mammals in the Azores save one species of bat, dead rats are a common sight on the roads. They are the subject of a sustained control effort, with many signposted “Zona Deratizado”, which are plastic boxes containing Warfarin. I don’t think this is a battle that will ever be won.

The Azores have a gentle climate, so all sorts of life thrives, both the native and the introduced. We have noticed many more species of pests here than we are accustomed to at home.

There is a brown, inch long cockroach that is a common sight at night, mostly outside, but occasionally in our accommodations. Small, slow-moving black millipedes are very common, creating a decorative curve on the white walls. In our house in Santa Barbara, on Santa Maria Island, we had a wild, leggy centipede running around the place. Google told us that it was a house centipede, helpfully killing and consuming other pests.

There are lots of ants, which seem to quickly find our food, as well as small biting flies and the usual mosquitoes.

I know that our blog is endlessly positive and encouraging (probably because we’re almost always enjoying ourselves) but I wanted to point out one of the potentially annoying features of the Azores. We have generally not been bothered by any of pests here, though we are currently dealing with a pair of assertive felines, who have put us to the expense of purchasing food for their exclusive consumption.

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