Third Interlude

I don’t need to explain my art to you.

There is much more to the fence story, however the next part will ideally have a multimedia component that is currently causing me difficulties, so we’ll take a brief break to discuss bugs and my hatred of them.  Also, a quick update on this post – according to a neighbor the rodents in question are most likely thirteen-lined ground squirrels and not chipmunks, though the chipmunk trap worked just as well on them, but also the larger holes I’m seeing are most likely not made by the ground squirrels but by the snakes that like to hunt them. Fun times! They (or maybe chipmunks for real this time?) are back and so we’ll need to do another round of white bucket traps. Now on to the bugs.

I hate bugs. Not all bugs; bumblebees, butterflies, dragonflies, maybe someday honeybees? (that is a very long term goal) are cool and are welcome to stay. Spiders, wasps, flies of all varieties, and ticks *shudder* are not welcome guests. I’m doing much better about spiders than I used to, provided they stay outside or out of sight. If they come in my house and make themselves visible they need to die. I have managed to live and let live with all of the spiders I encounter outside – including the super creepy black with white spots spider that startled a ridiculous shriek out of me when it came around the corner of the fencepost right into my face. Wasps are trickier, I know they are necessary pollinators and helpful in hunting other insects but I would like to be able to turn the hose on without fear of being attacked so any nests by the house have got to go. Flies and ticks are another story. They are not welcome anywhere for any reason and knowing that horses and possibly other animals will soon be coming home means the flies and ticks are going to get worse and I wanted to take some preemptive measures.

A friend of mine in WI who also has horses has long used fly predators and has had many a good thing to say about them, so this spring when I got a catalog from Spalding Laboratories with their various fly control options I decided to order their fly predators to help control the “filth” flies or “pest” flies which include house, biting stable, and horn flies. We’ve been getting the fly predators every few weeks since this spring and they seem to be working. I can’t say with too much certainty since we don’t actually have any animals on the property yet (when this whole thing first started I thought I’d have Leeloo home by June 15 but probably July 1 -HA!), but there seem to be less around and Nate and I are pretty in tune to flies in and around the house because of a minor fly infestation at our previous house. If either of us sees a fly in the house all other activities stop until we kill it! So overall I think they are working. Unfortunately those predators only work on flies that lay their eggs in manure or other organic matter and it turns out that horse flies and deer flies lay their eggs in water and the fly predators don’t do anything to them. The same company does make an “H-trap” that is supposed to trap and kill deer and horse flies and it had some pretty good reviews online so despite the hefty price tag we decided to get it.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, there is a picture online (here) but there is no sense of size or scale. This thing is large! Which explains the price tag. It also has to be placed very intentionally. Namely in a spot that is sunny all day and is in the direct path from wherever the flies are coming from. The flies are not going to pass up an existing meal to get to the trap, but if the trap is between them and other options they’ll go to the trap first. The horse and deer flies are unquestionably worse at the top of the driveway near our mailbox (we are forever getting dive bombed when we get the mail or are watering the trees/plants or mowing up there). My best guess is they are either coming from standing water somewhere in the park across the street from us or from the tiny pond of sorts a few houses down from us. So that means this very large and very unattractive object needs to go right at the top of our driveway for all to see. It got delivered pretty early in the season so it didn’t do much at first (too cold, too windy, and not many bugs out yet) so anytime we would drive in or out of our yard I would look at this expensive giant eyesore that didn’t seem to be doing anything but being “decorative” and declare “I don’t have to explain my art to you!”

gallon container for scale

It turns out it does work! We haven’t caught as many flies as some of the reviews online claim, but it has also been an insanely dry summer so the overall numbers are down. I can say that we are not only catching flies but some mosquitos and gnats too and we are not being dive bombed nearly as much when getting the mail, watering, or mowing and that is what matters. It also turns out to be a great conversation starter with neighbors. I have had several iterations of the following conversation:

Neighbor: So what exactly is that thing at the top of your driveway?

Me: You mean my art piece?

Neighbor: (awkward pause while they contemplate what they may have just gotten in to)

Me: It’s a fly trap, it’s much larger and much uglier than I expected.

Neighbor: (clearly relieved) – does it work?! If so, I may have to get one.

The flies are (hopefully) mostly dealt with. We’ll see what happens once the animals are actually home. I may need to get some additional traps but I’m hoping these preemptive measures make a difference.

That leaves the ticks. F*ing ticks. I have a genuine phobia when it comes to ticks of all kinds. I know it is irrational, but ticks are the worst! They don’t just seek you out (unlike other spiders that don’t want anything to do with you), they don’t just bite you and leave (like mosquitos which also suck), but they burrow their heads into your body and then stay with you for days. NO THANK YOU! Between the traumatic experience I had with ticks as a kid and dealing with Leeloo’s Lyme’s disease and their just general disgustingness you can see why I do not like ticks. Unfortunately, I have not found any solution for dealing with them. They may be the thing that pushes me over the edge into some sort of scorched earth scenario that involves poison or perhaps literally scorching the earth, but I’m hoping not.

Anyone have any suggestions for how to get rid of ticks without resorting to poison that will wipe out all the beneficial insects too? I really do love our bumblebees and butterflies and don’t want to harm them.