Tag Archives: skunks

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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New discussion over at the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  What’s up with Stemp? Click here to have your say!

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Fear Factor: Adrenaline Edition

If I stick to the classic ‘Fear Factor’ format, this post should be about fear-defying stunts. I generally try to avoid doing those, but into every life a little adrenaline must drip (or, in my case, surge like a tidal bore). So I asked myself, “What are the scariest things I’ve ever experienced?”

After ruling out politicians and 1980s boy bands I was left with a ragtag collection of memories, but I never remember being abjectly terrified. That’s probably because I’ve lived a charmed life and all the potentially dangerous situations turned out to be lucky near-misses. Still, they were seriously butt-puckering at the time.

The earliest scary situation I remember was when I was a young teenager on the farm. We were always wary of skunks, not only because of their fearsome stink but also because they often carried rabies. When they rambled through minding their own business we gave them a wide berth, but if one seemed unusually aggressive, Dad would shoot it just to be on the safe side.

I was home alone one day when a skunk marched up bold as brass. I’ll never forget staring at that skunk over the trembling gunsights, holding off until the last second to pull the trigger… and then I didn’t have to. The skunk turned and wandered away, leaving me shaking like a leaf.

As a young adult I narrowly avoided a couple of fights when I got cornered in remote places by guys much larger than me. Nothing pumps up the old adrenal glands like facing a fight you know you can’t win. Fortunately they were cowards, and when they realized I was going to fight them anyway they backed off. Whew.

Anybody who’s ever ridden a motorcycle knows there’s nothing quite like the horrifying weightlessness when gravity turns against you in a high-side. Aydan’s wild ride in Book 2 is based on the time I almost high-sided on a street bike, complete with the dragging footpeg throwing up sparks. But my guardian angel was working overtime that day (and every day, I suspect) so I pulled out of the turn unscathed and went home to change my underwear.

Then there was the time I was riding a dirt bike up a steep trail of loose shale with a cliff on one side and a hillside on the other. Getting up was a challenge, but coming down was truly scary. Especially when my brakes failed. Fortunately I was near the bottom and I hadn’t been going very fast, so I turned into the side of the hill and jolted anticlimactically to a stop.

Experiences like accidentally skiing onto a double-black-diamond downhill run or watching a tornado bear down on me were good for a few extra heartbeats, but either I’m not wired for panic or else I’m too stupid to react with appropriate fear. I got down the mountain, the tornado skipped harmlessly overhead, my guardian angel developed a drinking problem, and I puttered off happily to my next adventure.

But everything except the skiing and the tornado happened when I was young and foolish. These days I get all the adrenaline I need from crawling out the window onto our second-floor roof to wash the third-floor windows. (Okay, so now I’m old and foolish. Never mind.)

But that’s about all the fear factor I want!

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P.S. I’m on the road today, so I’ll reply to comments tomorrow – ‘talk’ to you then!

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