May 02, 2003

Homeland Defense

With the warmer weather, enemy forces have mobilized and have already established fortified positions around our headquarters here on Goose Creek... under the eaves, over the front door, even within the very substance of the house itself. The time has come to carry out the counterattack. Danger lurks. Wish me luck.

We had supper on the front porch for the first time last night. Ah, the sounds of the creek, the gentle breeze as the sun slants across the meadow, the dog flopped out in front of us waiting a morsel from our plates when we're done. All is right with the world and we sat contentedly, surveying with satisfaction all we had done with the old place in four years. And then, YUK! We glance up and That Dang Phoebe has piled moss and mud over the front door again! Black slime oozes down the white siding in a most unappetizing way. Now Phoebes are good birds to have around, being insectivores and all, but the little cow pie over the door had to go.

Meanwhile, the paper wasps have found that tiniest of slits that I didn't manage to get caulked under the front porch roof and they are flying around clumsily, bumping the backs of our heads obnoxiously while we are 'enjoying' our first-of-the-season outdoor meal. Shopping list: latex caulk and a case of wasp spray. Oh, and I must have missed that little strip of foundation at the corner of the porch because there is a motorcade of carpenter ants going up the downspout (I think I hear them singing a little marching song... or maybe I've just seen one too many Pixar animations). I'll call in an airstrike using WMD this weekend.

And from our perch on the porch, the Bleeding Hearts are in full glory, bobbing gently in the late afternoon breeze, being pollinated by... wait! That looks like carpenter bees! Hey Ann, do you remember how Nate and I used to do battle with the carpenter bees? Wait a minute. I'll be back. I ran upstairs to The Very Back Room.

The grip on my old Wilson STING racquet feels familiar, even though it has sat idle now for 6 years. I rotate it just so in my grip, test the full swing of it a time or two. I am ready. Looks like a male. He'll be ornery. There's a swing-and-a-miss. Now he's really riled... he's buzzing madly, saying vile curses in bee language, flying back and forth back and forth in a predictable aggressive pattern... aha! one more zig and on the zag.... PING! Service ace. My ad.

Biological control at its most satisfying best.

Posted by fred1st at May 2, 2003 06:28 AM | TrackBack

If only I could do the same sort of thing with the mosquitoes here in southeast Texas!!

Posted by: Jack Cluth at May 2, 2003 07:20 AM

Oh this method would never work. Mosquitoe's spindly little bodies would zip tween the racquet laces and more than that, they don't have nearly enough mass to produce that satisfying PING! that is even more gratifying when, with the stroke, the little bee heads and the little bee cephalothoraxes fly different directions.

There are, of course, those blue insect luring lights that produce that wonderful zingPOP! SPARK when one of the mesmerized beaked beasties lands on it. There's an evenings entertainment right there!

Posted by: fredf at May 2, 2003 07:52 AM

Great post, Fred.

Posted by: sainteros at May 2, 2003 09:31 AM

Down here in Atlanta, we have a nice long growing season and it doesn't get very cold in the winter, so we have lots of bugs. In particular, the roaches and fleas are very bad. My WMD of choice is a non-chemical pesticide called diatomaceous earth, or DE. It is made from the finely ground skeletons of diatoms that have been dug up from ancient sea beds, where they were laid down over the millenia.

Disperse it on the lawn, and it only harms animals with exoskeletons. The bugs crawl through the soil, and as they do, they get the powder on them, which scratches the waxy cuticle covering their exoskeletons, and they die of dehydration. It sounds rather implausible but all my sources say that this is how it works. And it does more fleas, no more roaches. We had a terrible flea infestation a couple of years ago (we have two dogs and two cats), and this stuff was the only thing that took care of it.

Of course it probably harms some of the beneficial ground-dwelling insects as well, but they can just move to our neighbors' yards. It will NOT harm worms, mammals, birds, or people. Farmers add small amounts of DE to stored grains, to keep down the weevil population. It's pretty cool stuff.

And that's my eco-friendly plug for the day. ;-)

Posted by: Curt at May 2, 2003 10:46 AM

I'm already doing battle with carpenter ants here, Fred. What, if any, solution ??? I despise them!

Posted by: deb at May 2, 2003 02:51 PM

Hey... who's making all the racket over here?!? Oh... RACQUET... my bad.

Posted by: Anne at May 2, 2003 03:00 PM

We have Yellowjackets (Vespula vulgaris and V. pensylvanica) in our area. The yellowjackets making outdoor dining impossible...but we don't want to kill other benficial wasp I use bait traps with phermone tuned to the three wasps in our area.

I use a biological Mosquito control too (Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis) The product comes in dunks and's inexpensive, non-toxic to all but mosquiteo larvae. You drop bt dunks in larger bodies of water such as ponds or sprinkle granules in fountains...whatever might collect standing water. I have 40 gal ceramic pot fountain and this keeps it absolutely mozzie free.

I plant various flowering shrubs, herbs and annuals that attract bees and butterflies. Bt var. kustaki takes care of any caterpiller infestation that gets away from the birds.

Bumblebees have returned for the spring pollen there anything more amazing than watching a bumblebee laden with pollen bump around like a blimp.

We are expecting yet another gully washer today and tomorrow with chances of kraken-boomen and hail...there go the climbing roses.

Posted by: feste at May 2, 2003 03:26 PM

Fragments Fred and south. North, and the
house. itself. A certain sadness
that requires thought and small
Lot Viviculture Weblog devoted to
softer shapes. It

that is my new url toy.
i felt your words were so good they might generate an impressive poem.

i am thinking of moving to floyd in a few years. i've been checkking out farmland in the area, which is how i ran into you. how do you like it there?

Posted by: hope at May 2, 2003 03:33 PM

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