Monday, January 10, 2005

Dreaming of Paradise on a rainy day

We are still in the middle of a really big rainy spell. I don’t remember when we’ve ever had so much rain in such short span of time. Maybe my memory is fuzzy, but even the El Niño didn’t seem this intense.

Our yard is like a muddy, wet sponge. Everything is saturated. All manner of earth-dwelling creatures have been driven from their homes. We still have lots of slugs. And earthworms. They propel themselves relentlessly across the concrete surfaces, desperate to find dry soil.

A couple of days ago, we had ants in the kitchen, fortunately in the one corner where no food is stored. Just to be safe, I sprayed with ant spray around the baseboards and the areas where the counter backsplash meets the wall. Then, last night, as I was getting ready to feed the dogs, I made an alarming discovery: a very large colony of ants, numbering somewhere in the zillions, had taken refuge inside the galvanized trash can in the garage in which I store the dog food.

I have been storing the dog food in the metal trash can since last year or so, when the rats had chewed through the plastic one. I don’t empty the dog food into the can; I merely place it, bag and all, inside the can. So now it’s rat-proof, but apparently not ant-proof.

Interestingly, the ants last night were mostly in the can itself, although many had also found their way into the food. So I pulled the bag out of the trash can and stuck the can outside. Then I put a circle of ant spray on the floor and set the dog food bag in the middle of it. This morning, many of the ants apparently found their way out of the bag, only to die when they crossed my ant spray Circle of Death. The ones still inside the bag appear to be dead/dying as well. I find it unlikely that they could have climbed out of the bag, gone through the poison, gone back up into the bag, and died, but I don’t know what else could be killing them. I don’t know how the ant spray could have gotten in there. (If there is some ingredient in the dog food that kills ants, I shudder to think what that might be doing to the dogs.)

All this dreariness leaves little for a bug-lover to appreciate, and less to include in a blog, so I will post pictures of some cool bugs I found on out summer ’03 trip to Paradise, a tiny "resort village" outside of Bishop, California.

Sphinx moth (I forget the exact species)

Unidentified moth


Cute little beetle

Prionus beetle


Wednesday, January 5, 2005

No good bugs to speak of...

It's been raining and cold. The only bugs I've seen lately in any great number are slugs. We seem to have an extra-lot of them, especially in the back yard, where they cruise around all over the patio until they die on the dry cement. I don't remember ever seeing so many dead slugs on the patio before.

There are also a few crane fly larvae that have worked their way up onto the concrete. They are gross-looking gray wormlike things. Other than that, no bugs here at home. The arboretum has a fair supply of monarch caterpillars, but between the rain, the new dog, and Jerry hurting his back, I haven't really had a chance to appreciate them.

There is reason to be optimistic, though. All this rain could result in favorable conditions for tadpoles.