Preponderance of Pests Plague Population

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub

Have you ever felt as though you were being eaten alive, or your blood was being sucked slowly through a straw from you face, arms and neck? For many out-doors folks, having endured a long bitter hard winter, springtime has been more pain than a pleasure.
A few bright spots endured however. That is, return of brightly colored migrating birds and a bit of warmth. Anticipation of a bug-ridden service at Old St. Anne’s Cemetery, 8:00 a.m. Memorial Day, kept crowds down, but a swish of OFF prior to the liturgy brought total relief from gnats and the nasty “Ms”. As a result, one could pray rather than slay.

An overflowing crowd at Henderson’s Bender Park Shelter for a 10:30 memorial ceremony felt the same way. Programs could be utilized for reading rather than swatting. But BEWARE! Those who chose to visit shaded cemeteries, gather around a barbeque pit, or plant remaining tomatoes and other seeds, sloshed themselves heavily with repellents, sometimes to no avail. That was our case, whence simply caring for water- starved ornamentals sent one fleeing, but not before the female mosquitoes had taken their toll.

Have you ever allowed a mosquito to slowly siphon a gallon or so of red fluid from your body? Interesting sight (not too smart though.) Bruce Bjork’s photo of that process is fascinating. Takes but seconds for the insect to satisfy its needs and be on its way, carrying your life’s blood away to be savored in some dark corner. Entomologists had warned us months ago that 2023 would be the
“Year of the Mosquito.” At that time, had one purchased stock in Mosquito Dope, one could have spent the summer in the middle of a lake with one’s own private yacht. (Hmm, would one be safe from wood ticks there?)

Ticks. Surely glad that opossums relish them!
Or so we were told that as late as 2020. However, latest research from a number of authors have refuted that information, and indicate that earlier studies were flawed, and opossums do NOT seek out ticks and vacuum them up for food. That does NOT mean that we should deliberately eliminate opossums as they are no longer useful to us. Mid-May we were having breakfast at a restaurant in a well-known out-of-area city. Between the bacon and eggs, a tick inserted itself on an article of clothing worn by our guest. What a surprise! We were not wearing our woods’ clothing, but madam tick appeared to feel right at home. How do you hide a wood tick in a restaurant? Suggestions welcome.

Speaking of ‘isshy poo.’ Trusting that you are not eating breakfast as you view the photo of the creatures in the ‘web’ taken this week.
A good friend called. “Come out, I’m starting a tree on fire.” Who could resist an invitation like that? The surprise was that an infestation of tent caterpillars was browsing on an apple tree, and were defoliating the leaves and branches.
Although the insects are harmless to humans, they are a major nuisance in an orchard, and particularly in cherry and flowering crab apple trees. Rather than using a chemical, which might enter the food chain, the gentle soul who owns the affected tree was able to burn the web and its contents, eliminating further spread of the larvae. The aggregation was fried in moments. In that the tree is green, covered with leaves, there is no danger of the fire spreading. Many and most insects are beneficial, but these little savages can be a major nuisance, and savored by few birds. Later, along Highway #169, more white tents could be noted by one’s designated observer, with damage very noticeable in trees infested in past years, particularly flowering crabapple trees.

Well, the floods came, crept silently into the Coachlight Ponds, and wiped out the treasured nest of the Trumpeter swans, Sylvia and Sylvan.
As the waters rose about their nest, the pen and cob tried valiantly to save their abode, to no avail. The research gathered thus far indicates that the Coachlight pair will not re-nest in 2023. We’d like to be proven incorrect.
What a story and glimpse into swan habits has been provided by these splendid birds for enumerable travelers. Should the reconstruction of Highway #93 proceed, the story may have ended in another way. Thus, we thank the great provider of unusual wildlife experiences for this close-up glimpse of
natural events.