Posts Tagged ‘ticks’

In this heat, you’ve got to start your day pretty darn early. It takes me about an hour to water the gardens. We also have newly planted figs and an evergreen that needs daily care. If I’m not done by 9 am, the #heatwave knocks me out. Just checked my phone, yep it’s 83 and it “feels like 90” at 10 am. The windows are perpetually covered with condensation, and my glasses fog up as soon as I open the door.

But this day started at 5 am, when I woke up and finished reading my book, Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. It left me thinking, instead of sleeping for another hour. She is one of my favorite writers, and this story is a not too subtle attack on climate deniers. However, it’s woven deftly into the everyday dynamics of a young farming family in TN, and the mother Dellarobia, is our protagonist. It touches on poverty, on women and independence and on class bias, all while trying to figure out why a million beautiful monarch butterflies have decided to roost on Dellarobia’s mountain.

So of course I had to do some research, and they did only just discover this roosting behavior almost forty years ago in 1975 which is pretty new in the world of scientific discovery. nat-geographic-cover-e1295402536266Roosting is a wintering over, a sort of dormant time for the butterflies when large clusters hang from trees and hibernate in plain site. Normally they will migrate and roost in the mountains of Mexico, but in this fictionalized version they’ve arrived in Appalachia like a miracle from God to the poor people living there. http://texasbutterflyranch.com/2012/07/10/founder-of-the-monarch-butterfly-roosting-sites-in-mexico-lives-a-quiet-life-in-austin-texas/

The monarch is our state insect and sometimes they will land on my shirt! Unfortunately while watering this morning I came inside with your normal everyday tick attached to my leg. I’ve learned not to panic when I see these critters sucking their way into our dogs, our children or my leg. We’ve probably dislodged hundreds over the years with our bare fingers – I find that much easier than trying to use a tweezer. But now I do keep the tick around for Bob to look at when he gets home, just in case. In order to transmit Lyme Disease, the tick must stay attached for 24 to 36 hours in order to transfer the LD spirochete, http://www.aldf.com/lyme.shtml so a good rule of thumb is to always do a tick check when you come inside.

Here is a picture of my butterfly tree, as seen through the sleeping porch. It is currently buzzing with honey bees!    photo

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Like some people, I believe the Armageddon that Jon Stewart jokes about will begin not with a bang, but with a little, tiny germ or pest. Not a crazy Norwegian with a superiority complex, or a dirty bomb in a turban. Nope, it’s some small organism that will wreck havoc on our society in the sci-fi future.  Before penicillin was discovered, bacteria were to blame for large scale epidemics. Think about the anthrax scare. And what about my own little debacle with a mosquito and West Nile? Then there’s poor old Buddha, who came down with Lyme disease right after we moved here. I still have nightmares of spending time out on Martha’s Vineyard, picking ticks off of children, adults and dogs, and burning them one by one…at least twenty every night.

V, Lee and Al in the Vineyard

Here are my friends delivering a bill for their tick-worthy surgical skills! And now we have the Marmorated Brown Stink Bug! Not at all native to our continent, this bug was apparently, “… accidentally introduced into eastern Pennsylvania. . It was first collected in September of 1998 in Allentown, but probably arrived several years earlier,” a Penn State entomologist says.  

OK, so they don’t carry a disease, at least not that we know of, but they do terrorize crops. They love apple and peach orchards, will feed on blackberry, field corn and soybeans, and for some reason, they absolutely adore my porch.

Saw my first one this summer today on the deck. Oh, and did I mention, they smell!  I may have gotten a record number of Facebook comments last year under a post that read, “Stink Bugs, it’s a biblical plague!” That was when they would fall out of lamps and scare me half to death. A friend of mine (Hi Tammy!) demonstrated the best way to rid your house of them. You get a glass, take a paper towel and gently swish the mini-dinosaur bug into the glass, then pour it down the toilet. No touching. Here are the bug’s natural predators:

Ms Bean

Farmer Bob

Well Halleluiah brothers and sisters, our local store, Plow and Hearth, is now taking orders for a stink bug trap! In fact they are getting about ten calls a day for them. The trap costs $19.99 and emits pheromones that lure the nasty critters to their death. Refills will run $9.95. Maybe we can boondoggle ourselves out of this infestation!This is our final frontier.


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