Bugsville

Moving to the country means more rocks, bushes, trees and dirt for insects to occupy. Every single teeny, weeny, nook and cranny is a potential home to these critters and we are at full capacity.

Pick up a rock and you’ll find a microcosm of bug life from funnel spiders who weave cloth-like sheets of webs with hiding holes, to ants – one colony per rock, to the occasional baby cricket or centipede.

Grasshoppers are a familiar sight and make great play toys for the cats. Stinkbugs flock to the interiors of our vehicles or occasionally find themselves stranded in the bathtub. Do not disturb or they will live up to their names – stink. They are actually called Pinebugs because they smell like pine trees.

Strange unidentifiable creatures occasionally creep along or fly across our paths and some of the biggest bees we’ve ever seen can be found in these parts.

One summer, I found a couple of dung beetles riding/pushing a piece of – well – dung through what would have been to them, a jungle. Where to? Only they knew although my son mentioned something about navigating by sun. One seemed to be doing all of the work while the other rode in – uh – luxury on the poop ball.

Wear a headlamp at night and you’ll be mistaken for the premier of some kind of bug attraction. They’ll flock to you. A face mask is recommended. I’m sure you have one of those sitting around.

Never open a can of tuna fish with a window or door open; the yellow jackets love the smell and will do anything to get at it. Think The Hills Have Eyes as you look nervously out of your window – waiting for the next wave. 

Open your door at this time of year and the fifty flies that have been waiting outside will ride the air vacuum in and head for the head.

Black ants regularly find their way to our kitchen. I wrote a poem about them here: Ant Invasion – A Poem. Borax mixed in with sugar is the antidote.

At night in the summer you’ll hear the chirping of crickets (a sound I’ve always loved) and sometimes you can hear hornets or yellow jackets scraping the surfaces of wood, harvesting material for their paper-like nests.

I’ve only gotten stung once this year while minding my own business. That’s usually how it happens. I have little tolerance for them any more and bat them away with my bare hands.

For the most part, we’ve gotten used to living with this disposable-like population but every once in a while, one makes itself known, like yesterday, when a pinebug landed smack dab in the middle of my glasses.

Soon enough they’ll be gone for the winter. They will disappear or fly to Florida. I can just see V’s of pinebugs heading south for the winter. 🙂

Ant Invasion – A Poem

One, two, three…..thousands…

Crawling on my countertop
Sugar ants they just won’t stop
From the ground they formed a line
Up the stairs they climbed and climbed
In the door across the floor
Saw them, freaked, and slammed my door
Didn’t work they went beneath
Thousands marching past my feet
Mix the borax, sugar, water
Ant buffet go get the swatter
On the glasses plates and pans
Swarming on my noodles, cans
Every bit of food’s a target
Vacuum over under carpet
Vinegar is my new friend
Bring their ant trail to an end
In the bedroom gone too far
Me and them it’s time to spar
To the store for some more bait
Set it out and sit and wait
Bare no grudge against the mass
But it’s them who did trespass
They’re a part of nature’s order
But my doorjamb is their border

What is Black and Yellow and Flies All Over?

A very confused Yellow Jacket. Get it “”Flies” all over”?

They hover outside your door and the second you open it, they ride the air current into your house. “They” are Yellow Jackets.

If one gets inside, you have to follow it around with a rolled up newspaper or other weapon of choice until you get it because if you don’t, it will wait for you – then – zap – then pain.

I got stung twice this summer and my husband once. His was worse because he was  sleeping when I heard him groan in pain. It was really bad judging by his reaction.

I asked to see the wound and I recognized it as a sting. I quickly crawled to the bottom of the bed and sure enough, there was a hornet still buzzing against the canvas. I squished it and showed it to him.

What a rude awakening.

It hurt him for a couple of days unlike mine. When I got stung, I was simply walking when I felt a sharp pain on the top of my foot. I realized what had happened and I grabbed it and put pressure on the sting. That seemed to help and I barely felt it after that.

The second time it happened I was sitting on a bench when a Yellow Jacket got me in my leg. I put pressure on it again but this time the back of my leg swelled up considerably over the next two days.

Wondering if I was having an allergic reaction that might get worse, we did some research and found out it’s called a large localized reaction. It’s a kind of allergic reaction but it’s not the type that’s systemic and dangerous. I just waited for the swelling to go down. Based on what I read, if you have a large localized reaction, your chances of having a more severe reaction the next time increase.

The Yellow Jackets were rampant this summer. When we went to get spray, the store  shelves were empty. Apparently the scourge was worse than usual this year –  perhaps due to the heat and shortage of water.

To keep them at bay, we set out various DIY and store-bought traps.

One deterrent is to make a fake hive and hang it up. Those didn’t seem to work but most of the water bait traps worked fairly well. Yellow Jackets love meat – especially hot dogs. We’d place one in a shallow tub surrounded by soapy water and the bees would land in the water and die quickly because of the dish soap.

We found some hives in the trees around our property and used a garden insecticide type sprayer filled with water and soap to soak the nests and kill the colonies. It worked really well but of course you have to keep your distance.

My husband told me that when a hive is first attacked, the insects go into swarming mode but as soon as it finished off, they seem to realize they’ve been defeated and simply hang around but are not aggressive.

We had fun shooting down a nest that was too close to the trailer with a BB gun. By the time it fell, it was nothing but shreds of nest material. I began to shoot rocks at it with a sling shot. I still shoot marbles today but with a can for a target.

I spent a lot of time digging our spring deeper because of the declining water table and the yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, black headed whipper snappers or whatever you call them liked “the hole” as much as me. It was a primary water source for everyone during an especially dry summer and the competition was fierce.

For the most part, we shared the space in peace but every once in a while I would grab my homemade oversized swatter and smack them all down so I could dig for a few minutes without having to have eyes in the back of my head.

It was fun to play yellow jacket tennis too.

I made a game out of swinging at every one that would happen by. I counted upwards of a couple of hundred per session. I would use the back and forth maneuver, the backhand, and the close quarters anti yellow jacket ninja move if they entered my personal bubble. I suppose I’m lucky I didn’t get stung.

God forbid you open a can of tuna in the trailer to make a sandwich. They would smell it from miles away and swarm the door and vents, trying to get in. It was almost scary. I would have to eat inside also.

We used the tuna juice against them also. We bought a fly trap at the hardware store that had a one-way top. It came with fly bait but we put the top on an empty plastic gallon milk jug with the tuna juice inside and they went nuts trying to get in.

We’d watch the jug fill up with buzzing bodies climbing over each other trying to get out.  Better in than out but there seemed to be an endless supply that summer.

It’s cooling down and I haven’t seen one in a few days. I won’t miss them or the games.

It’s time to put away my Whackajacket 2000 till next summer.

 

Pine Bugs

A poem.

Pine bugs here, pine bugs there

Pine bugs they are everywhere

Little smelly sticky things

Fly around on crispy wings

If you try to flick them off

They will stick like glue to cloth

Think that they’re a yellow jacket

Freak you out until you whack it

Knobbly legs with little claws

Eat them pine nuts with their jaws

Found one in my swimming suit

Found one crawling up my boot

Summer find them high and low

Never find them in the snow

Although they may seem annoying

Pine trees are what they’re destroying

 

 

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Notice the fly with the attitude. I had to follow this little pine bug/beetle around the table to get a couple of good pics of him and this fly shows up and he’s like “this my piece of paper ya’ll”. Pine bug just says “ya, whatever”.