Monday, June 18, 2012

Living the Wild Life


Made you look!!!

Well, maybe a more accurate title would be "Living with Wildlife."  Yes, it's nearly Midsummer's Eve, and the critters are trying to move in with us.  Again.

If you know me, you know that I LOVE nature and go crazy over the rabbits, toads, birds, garter snakes, and the occasional deer or coyote we see in our yard.

But I am a firm believer that the wildlife needs to stay OUTSIDE.  PLEASE.

It happens every year.  SOMETHING decides it's too hot outside, so, gee whiz, let's move into that nice air-conditioned house that sits so conveniently in our ecosystem.

One year, it was crickets.  They snuck inside (yes, I know snuck isn't really a word, but I like it, so just get over it) and we could hardly sleep for the chirping.  Plus, The Girl decided that she was afraid of them, especially after finding them in her shoes.  (Oh, come ON.  Show some backbone!)  The Boy was fairly stoic about it all.  Of course, he didn't find any creepy crawlies in his footwear, either.

We finally banished the crickets.  Next came the mice.

Now THERE'S fun!

We could hear them gnawing in the walls.  Yuck.  We found their calling cards on the pantry shelves.  DOUBLE yuck.  We fought the mouse wars off and on, finding their entrances and plugging them, but they would eventually find another way in.  Even after we got cats! 

Our cats weren't the greatest mousers, preferring to chase flies and spiders, until we adopted The Great Orange Hunter.  Tango has a talent, and that's catching mice.  He always leaves them where we can easily find them (I've left you a love token - am I not a mighty hunter?) - like in The Girl's shoes.  
What IS it about her shoes?

We had moths (don't keep sunflower birdseed from one year to the next - TRUST ME).  We had grasshoppers. We had Asian ladybugs.  We had termites.  We had ants.  We always have raccoons knocking down the bird feeders.  But usually these things happen one at a time.


This is the year of multiple plagues.  Every spring I wage war on the carpenter bees, who like to chew tunnels into our front porch.  They start in May, and they take over the airspace on the front porch, buzzing around and dive-bombing anything that moves.  You can sit there and hear them chomping away in the evening after they've retired to their hangars.  They sound like mice!  So I buy wasp and hornet spray and squirt it into their holes, and out they come, falling on their backs and flailing their legs.  If I'm a little later, out come their larvae - large, unattractive white squirmy things - UGH.

This year, I procrastinated on the bees.  We had other issues with Nature.  Chipmunks.

That Man was working on a project in the driveway, and left the garage door open most of the afternoon.  Later, he and The Boy reported seeing a flash of brown fur in the garage.  We found the telltale signs - little holes chewed near the bottom of the sunflower seed bag in the garage.  A couple of days later, I was sitting on the patio and heard something chewing on the house.  From the INSIDE.

(Is it just me, or do most of the critters want to eat either the house or the birdseed?)

That Man set a live trap in the garage for the chipmunk, which had apparently made its way into the crawlspace from the garage.  The trap did its work and the chipmunk is no longer in residence.  However, there is still a small furry army still beseiging us outside, so the trap went back out onto the porch, where the brazen little demons sit and chatter.

In the meantime, I was planning to attack the bees, but before I got to start, The Boy woke up this past Saturday to someone knocking.  Two someones.  On the porch railing.

Woodpeckers.  They were systematically tearing chunks of wood out of a section of the porch railing, following a bee tunnel.  My friend Brenda used to work for the Audubon Society, and she says if you have woodpeckers pecking on your house, then you have an insect problem.  Big surprise!!!

Well, the woodpeckers were, but the insects were not.  Those birds were after the carpenter bees.  The Boy scared them off, but they returned.  With reinforcements.

So, I was forced to stop procrastinating and work on the bees.  I've sprayed about half of their holes, and the inmates have been evicted.  My friend Resa says the next step is to jam wads of steel wool into the burrows with a pencil, seal them up with wood putty, and then paint.

Oh, goody.

I'm willing to do all that, but the woodpeckers are persistent.  I don't want them to pull out the steel wool and putty, so how to keep them away while everything sets up?

That Man set the chipmunk trap on the railing where the woodpeckers have been working their brand of magic.  Genius!

So we will see what we see when we see it, regarding the birds and the bees.

I was starting to feel like I was in Egypt before the Exodus.  At least we haven't had frogs, flies, boils, or hail, but we WILL have locusts (oh, all right, cicadas) in August.

Cross your fingers!


  1. Ruth - You have me giggling at 11:00 pm when I should be sleeping. Your "voice" (as English teachers say) comes through so clearly in your writing. And even more amazing, its the exact same voice you had in grade school! Cracks me up!

  2. You should submit this. .. It is good . Could win a prize.

  3. I don't know where you live, but it sounds like fun! I mean that seriously! I imagine some mountain forested home. In suburbia all we have to deal with is neighbor's cats and cicadas every so often. Your "problems" with all the wildlife sounds like fun to fix and work on! :-)

  4. Stunning story there. What happened after? Take care!
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