Category Archives: Insects

Blackout in Bug Central

Insects we like!
Insects we like!

It wasn’t even raining or blowing last night and just before 9, the lights flickered, and then went out. I had just poured myself a nice glass of wine, and was settling back to relax a little before bed. Luckily, the temperature had gone down a touch, so without the bedroom air conditioner on it was not totally sweltering, but the muggies have hit us hard here. John ended up cranking up the generator, so we stayed up for awhile and watched something silly on tv. Around midnight or a little later, all the lights came back on. Not too bad an outage, but it made for a broken up night.

Insects we do NOT like, in the windowsill
Insects we do NOT like, in the windowsill

During this past few weeks we have also been battling carpenter ants. It wasn’t enough that we had the Great Wool Moth Invasion, but we had to begin dealing with ants. There has been sawdust coming down in some of the crevasses where the timbers on our timberframe come together, and we have not really been able to see who is doing the munching. And then in every window, we have had these long, thin flying ants emerging, and by the time Wednesday came along, they were making short flights all over the place, landing in our coffee, crawling over the computer, and really just being a terrible nuisance everywhere! We tried those ant traps, and one of the not so terrible sprays for the window sills, but we finally had enough and I broke down and called the pest control people.

Finally seeing some Lunas. Nice bugs!
Finally seeing some Lunas. Nice bugs!

It was not as painful a process as I thought it would be. They puffed really finely ground powder made from pulverized chrysanthemums into all the window crevasses and around the doors, and put some kind of gel bait up for the mother lode of ants that are tunneling in our beautiful timbers. (Apparently the powder works a lot like diatomaceous earth). We have been watching all day today and have not seen even one living flying insect, except a giant rogue moth that must have gotten in last night. So I am very hopeful that this will be the answer to the invasion.

Now we are just battening down the hatches for the anticipated 2.5″ of rain that’s supposed to come tonight, courtesy of Tropical Storm Arthur. I can’t complain about it too much as we aren’t going to get hit full-on with the storm, but that much rain in one night makes such a mess in the paddocks. Yuck!

 

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Winged Weekend Warriors Part 2

The sorting mess in the driveway
The sorting mess in the driveway

It’s no longer the weekend, although I had great intentions of getting a blog post out by Sunday night. I am burning the midnight oil getting ready for this coming weekend’s Maine Fiber Frolic. I always think I am going to be better prepared to pack up my car on Thursday afternoon, in readiness to blast off directly from work on Friday to set up at the Windsor Fair grounds. But as usual, even yesterday afternoon, I was most definitely not prepared.

One of the reasons that I am so ill-prepared is that about two weeks ago I discovered a wool-moth infestation in some fleeces I had upstairs in my fiber area. This is one of the fears that all fiber folk have, and sometimes even constant vigilance is not enough.

Inside the freezer.  The wool mess takes over!
Inside the freezer. The wool mess takes over!

The offenders in my fiber loft were a few dirty fleeces housed in plastic bags that I had left open slightly so that they would not form condensation and felt. Near-hysterical panic set in and I had to weed out all the affected items. To start with, I just took everything outside and lined them up in the driveway for an inspection and sorting (thank goodness for a nice stretch of weather and a holiday weekend). Anything that was infected went on the compost pile and John turned it under, many times. Everything else went into the freezer, and every day as I came home, I took more out and washed and washed, in extremely hot water, and then dried in the sun, not to return to the house until it was in storage bins. Interestingly enough, nothing that was wrapped up tightly in cotton sheets was affected. Nor was anything closed up in brown paper.

The day after the gruesome discovery, a Saturday, good friend Chris came to my rescue and helped out all day, toting and organizing. Our driveway resembled a disaster zone, thank goodness not on a larger scale of any kind, like a real natural disaster.

There haven’t been enough hours in each day for me to feel like I am not running faster just to keep falling behind. But anything going to the Fiber Frolic either was not in the house at the time, or has been washed to within an inch of its little life and put into containers. No more open-air wool hangouts in our house for sure!

The upshot of it all is that I have a lot of fiber loft organizing to do. It’s time. The Weekend of the Wool Moth Warriors is over, but the battle and the preventive planning will continue for a long time to come. However, before anything goes back upstairs, even in containers, we are going to be doing some spraying. I hate chemicals and avoid them at all turns if I can, but I do not think we can eradicate lurking bugs without it. Ugh. I cannot believe that after almost a lifetime of living with wool and fiber products openly in our house, that we got hit. Luckily, the problem came to light before packing up for the Frolic. The alternative doesn’t even bear contemplation.

Blackflies have landed

Hiding out from the blackflies
Hiding out from the blackflies

Or Mayflies, if you want.  They are still small, but as pesky as the adult variety.  They drive the animals and the humans crazy!    With all the ‘off the ocean’ breezes (or heavy-duty winds) that we have had recently, why have they forsaken us now?  It’s the only fix for  blackfly aggravation.

Elf and Zelda the goats hide out in the greenhouse
Elf and Zelda the goats hide out in the greenhouse

Oh well.  It also means that it is warming up, and I think that it is about time. As we wait on our goat kid babies, it’s nice to be able to enjoy the warmth.

DeathStar arrives at the farm

We do not have a barn, so everything we do on the farm is done in a series of small greenhouses with heavier, more opaque covers than the usual plant greenhouse.  I milk our goats in one of them, and while I milk I hum a little, talk to the goat in question, and look around.  I was not pleased last week to see this near the top of one of the supporting arch posts of the greenhouse, 5 or 6 feet away from the milking stand and our little operation:

Death star construction underway in our little universe
Death star construction underway in our little universe

I am a huge Star Wars fan, and like Leah, Han and Luke, was not overly pleased to see  this under construction!  I am not a fan of whitefaced hornets, or bald-faced hornets as they are called.  It’s a beautiful little structure, but not welcome near our milking goats as they are tethered to the milk stand!  I have been watching this thing for awhile now and told my husband that I don’t believe it’s active anymore.  I milk twice a day and I spend quite a bit of time in there… no action.  Until last evening as Sock Monkey was giving her all, I saw one crawl in there.  I couldn’t believe that it would fit when it landed, as it is very small still, but it went right in.  I was able to take a picture of the creature in there, and amazingly enough it’s visible in the picture!

You can just see the tail of the critter in there
You can just see the tail of the hornet in there

I know that young wasps are being raised in there, but I am curious as to why the whole paper structure isn’t being enlargened by the hornets.  If Darth Vader were still around I am sure it would be turning into a monster of a hive!