Neighborhood Bad Guys Back

The bear is back and marauding neighbor’s bird feeders and trash cans. I put mine in the shed and let the birds eat naturally so unless I happen to wonder out in the jungle after dark, not likely I’d even know they were here. The real bad guys that are back are the yellow flies. They normally appear, as if by magic, about mid May and can totally make being outside a miserable experience. These are kin to deer flies and horse flies with an orange/yellow body. The bites are big enough to draw blood and hurt like hell. For whatever reasons, we didn’t experience much of an infestation last year but they seem to me making up for it now. I’ve launched a counter attack which exploits a weakness in their defense. They are attracted to the color black so anyone wearing black clothes is first to be attacked. I feel sorry for Bob when he comes because he invariably wears a black T shirt and black shorts. That’s good for the rest of us but bad for him. The defense is to attract them to something black and deadly. So what we do is hang a black beach ball or equivalent that’s been coated with Tanglefoot. Tanglefoot is a super sticky substance such that once they land on the ball, they can’t get off – the old fly paper approach. I made 3 traps and have them hanging near the entrance to the dock. Tanglefoot is really nasty stuff to deal with and difficult to coat onto a beach ball without coating yourself. I’ve done this a couple of seasons now and substitute empty clorox bottles, painted black, for beach balls because they have a nice handle making them easier to deal with and hang.

Yellow Fly Trap
Yellow Fly Trap

To round out a trifecta of bad guys – nematodes got the cucumbers. They hit late so we did manage to harvest a fair number but overnight the plants just died. This season I lost one (out of four) zucchini plants and six (out of six) cucumbers. Shame on me since I slacked off on my prevention techniques in those specific locations. I knew it when I planted them but was over confident that the critters had been defeated overall in the garden and gone on to greener pastures. I also had it in my mind, erroneously as it turns out, that all the fish carcasses I’d planted would gross out the nematodes. Nope. What I have to do is just dig out those areas and replace the native soil with compost. Does a coral snake count as a bad guy? If so, up the total to 4 bad guys. I don’t put them in the same class of bad as nematodes and yellow flies.

Today was a two Aleeve day. You may recall several months back I did a major jungle clearing job. As big a job as it was, it didn’t come even close to cleaning the whole property but I needed a break. So today I started working the area on the West side of the house. That means cutting palmettos, trimming trees and wild shrubs – a job that requires getting into the thick of it with a vengeance. It’s also a job best done in the winter since I have to wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt to keep from getting cutting to ribbons and chewed on by mosquitoes, spiders and whatever else dwells therein. I actually came within a few inches of a small tree snake – no danger other than from a heart attack or banging my head on a tree limb when I lurched back out of danger.

Man did the lake feel good after that workout.

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