Tag Archives: bugs

Anti-Ant

I was enjoying a quiet cup of tea on our back deck the other day when I felt it:  The distinct sensation of six tiny feet scuttling across my skin.  Sure enough, an ant had decided to traverse my mountainous foot instead of going around it like a sensible creature.

That ant achieved low-earth orbit about a second later.

I’m pretty tolerant of most critters.  Snakes and spiders don’t bother me, and I’m actually quite fond of bats and salamanders.  I think mice and skunks are cute, even though I refuse to let them share my abode.  (But if they’re across the street at the neighbour’s house, I’ll ooh and ahh and take pictures:)

Mom and six baby skunks across the street from us - aren’t they adorable?

Mom and six baby skunks across the street from us – aren’t they adorable?

But ants?  Nope.  That’s where I draw the line.

Ants have no redeeming qualities.  They bite, they eat house walls, they kill gardens, they make giant mounds in the lawn, and they multiply like crazy.  Worst of all, ants are organized.  And they outnumber us a million to one.  That just doesn’t seem like a good ratio if they decide to band together and take over.

I thought I was being overly paranoid with that particular speculation, but even the information pages mention the fearsome prospect of being conquered by giant mutated ants and their brutal slave-driving societies.  Yikes.  Thanks for a whole new batch of nightmare-fodder.

And just to feed my worries, lately the ant population seems to have doubled in our yard.  They’re slowly surrounding us, and I doubt their intentions are benign.

I mean, seriously.  Would you trust this face?

creative commons ant(Photo by Steve Jurvetson used under Creative Commons license)

We’ve tried ‘green’ commercial ant-killers with no success, along with all the home remedies ever suggested:  vinegar, boric acid, boiling water, cornmeal; you name it.  One thing we haven’t tried is casting the colony in molten aluminum.  That’s a permanent solution to the problem, but it might be a bit hard on our lawn.

They haven’t invaded our house en masse yet, so we’re maintaining an uneasy détente.  Every now and then one sneaks inside and meets a prompt and messy demise; and every now and then they swarm me in my garden, doubtless hoping to return the favour.  But if they ever mount a determined attack, I’m gonna up the anti-ant ante and get out the really nasty chemicals.

‘Cause the thought of being enslaved by giant mutant ants gives me the heeby-jeebies.  And even heebier and jeebier… they can strip a dead gecko to bare bones in a little over 12 hours.  That’s only a few thousand ants.  Imagine what a million could do.

Did I mention there are approximately one million ants for every human on earth?

Well, I won’t be sleeping tonight.

What critter is your nemesis?

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Beetle Chips And Other Stories

I was probably too young to remember when my mother admonished me not to eat bugs, but I’m sure she must have. I really would have preferred to follow her advice.

I realize there are some parts of the world where bugs are, if not delicacies, at least a dietary staple. Even here in Canada I’ve seen cricket lollipops and chocolate-covered grasshoppers, but I’ve never tried them. Hell, I grew up on the prairies. Once you’ve smelled the stomach-churning scent of grasshopper guts slowly barbequing on a hot engine and seen a 12” worm squeeze out of a cricket’s butt, you’re pretty much over the idea of eating grasshoppers and crickets.

Which makes the accidental ingestion of bugs that much more revolting to me. I’ve never experienced the clichéd ‘bite into an apple and find half a worm’, thank goodness. But I’ve come perilously close to devouring a couple of giant shiny black beetles.

Okay, they weren’t exactly ‘giant’ – they were probably only about an inch long. But still. That’s pretty-damn-big when we’re talking about bugs in food.

Once I was absently munching chips while reading. I don’t know what made me look into the bag at precisely the right instant, but there it was: a big black beetle lying belly-up and tastily coated in sour-cream-and-onion powder. My next mouthful would’ve had a very odd taste indeed.

Then I remembered I’d taken that bag of chips on a camping trip the week before, and apparently I’d picked up a hitchhiker. At least he died happy, surrounded by more food than he could ever eat. But I carefully avoided thinking about what he might have left behind on the chips.

Another time I was startled by exactly the same type of black beetle scuttling out of a peach pit as I cut the peach open. Fortunately I hadn’t bitten into the peach, or I’d have gotten a squirmy mouthful.

And I’m an authority on squirmy mouthfuls, after the time I drank from a garden hose and ended up with a large spider crawling across my tongue. That cured me of drinking from the garden hose without letting it run for a while first.

I’m sure I’ve eaten my fair share of carrot maggots – they’re exactly the same colour as carrots, and I’d eaten quite a few carrots before I realized what was causing those itty-bitty tunnels. And I’ve definitely had my fill of gnats or whatever those bugs are that hover in giant clouds over the road. If you’re on a bike or even walking fast, there’s just no way to avoid them short of suicidal evasive action.

All this was brought to my mind a few weeks ago when I bolted awake in the middle of the night. As I’ve mentioned before, it doesn’t take much to make me do that, but this time it wasn’t a false alarm. Something was definitely wrong.

Then I realized there was a funny taste in my mouth. And there had been a lot of fruit flies around…

Anybody else got bug stories? Have you ever intentionally eaten bugs?

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It’s Gonna Be A Long Winter

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when we question our sanity in living where we do.

Saturday was nice and sunny with temperatures in the high teens (that’s low 70s for you Fahrenheit folks), and Hubby took the motorcycle out for one last ride. Sunday we had six inches of snow and last night the temperature was -27 with the wind chill.

We knew winter was coming. We’re not shocked.  But the longer we live here, the more we start talking about other places we could live.  The problem is that other than the cold and snow, we can’t think of a better place.

Well, okay; the cold and snow and the fact that there are large animals here that would like to eat us. Grizzly bears and cougars and such.  They’re not really an issue in the city, but when we’re out at our garden in the country, they’re a threat.

Hubby and I considered and discarded a few options.

Tropical beaches have a special allure when our world is cold and white, but then there are the problems of jellyfish and sharks and undertows and red tide and hurricanes and tsunamis, which are probably of negligible concern to the people who actually live there, but they seem pretty scary to us.

And most places with warm tropical beaches also have giant bugs. And the giant bugs often occupy houses where we might want to live.  This is an issue for at least one of us.

I grew up in a farmhouse that was infested by big black crickets all summer long, and crickets eat everything. Including your underwear in the laundry bin.  I had crotchless panties at an age where I couldn’t imagine why anybody would want them.  So my bug tolerance is slightly higher than Hubby’s, but I still have no desire to cohabitate with bugs.  Ever.  Again.

Then there’s the whole snake issue. Here in Canada even our venomous snakes are polite.  We only have four kinds, and they’d all prefer to avoid humans if possible.  They keep to themselves in a few small geographic areas, and even if you manage to find one and convince it to bite you, you probably won’t die.

Not like some of the warmer climes where you can take your choice between being fatally bitten or fatally squished by a mind-boggling variety of reptiles. I’ve heard Hawaii doesn’t have snakes, but then again, they’ve got volcanoes and lava flows.  One way or another, something’s gonna sneak up and swallow you when you least expect it.

And if you go really far afield, there’s a whole ‘nother set of man-eating critters licking their chops. Oh, with tropical diseases thrown in as a bonus.

Having exhausted our discussion of alternate places to live, our kitchen table conversation swerved to this:

Hubby: Wouldn’t it be nice to just put all the big predators on an island somewhere so we wouldn’t have to worry about them?  I wonder who’d win in a fight between a grizzly bear and a lion?

Me: Cage match!  I’d put my money on the grizzly.

Hubby: How about a grizzly bear and a polar bear?  Polar bears are bigger than grizzlies.

Me: Yeah, but polar bears only hunt wussy stuff like seals and humans.  No claws or teeth or anything.  Grizzlies are mean mo-fos.  They kill other bears.

Hubby: Hm.  Yeah.  How about…

*discussion continues*

Yep, only three cold days and already cabin fever is setting in. It’s gonna be a long winter.

Please help us out: Where’s the ideal place to live?

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