Monday, May 4, 2009

PESTS: They can be Transplants too!

Not all insects are PESTS. Some friendly visitors to Pet's garden

 Karen's cat Amelia on the hunt for PESTS!

Hiya Karen! 

On this hot spring day I must talk about PESTS. And I’m eager to find out if the ones you have in the city can match up to ours in the country. I suppose occasionally you have a house fly wander in. You think that’s a pest? WRONG. Move into a house next door to a cow field and then you’ll find out that these flies flock in the thousands, maybe the millions, and love to plague the dairy herd, but even better spend much time figuring how to take over your house. Those huge masses of the insects…now that’s PESTS. So far we’ve only swatted a few flies, but we know they’re only the vanguards looking the place over so they can go back to their flock of millions and plan the attack. So we’ve killed a few. They don’t mind being killed. They know about all their relatives behind them and they’ve laid eggs enough to start a new generation in six hours. I have fly stories galore if you’re interested in hearing, but first I dare you to come up with worse pests than Ma and Pa fly!


You know how much I love a good dare!!!!! You’d be surprised how many strange PESTS we have here in the city. Do parking meter girls count? : ) We have the usual ants, spiders, pantry moths, and the occasional fly. But hands down the scariest pest I’ve ever seen was in my friend’s house in Palm Springs. He lives right on the edge of the desert so there are some of the usual suspects like scorpions and tarantulas. You don’t even want to see how much he spends on pest control!! One morning we headed into the breakfast room all excited about the fantastic omelet we were going to make when I happed to almost step on something that looked like it was out of a nightmare. It was large, about four inches, and had a head shaped like a seahorse and looked kind of like a miniature dragon. It even had large wings! Before I could let out one heck of a scream my male friend beat me to it. That’s how scary looking it was. Thankfully it was dead. My friend took a picture of it and sent it to his bug guy. Next thing you know he’s over in a flash all excited about our discovery. The bug guy proudly placed the creature into a plastic bag and told us he was going to send it off to headquarters. A month later my friend gets a call. The bug is actually from Chile. Wow did he get lost. And if he’s a taste of the PESTS they have in Chile I’m never going there!


I’m not touching that one. The South American bug sounds ever scarier than sighting one of those cheery sounding Whippoorwills in person. That’s comparing a bug to a bird so now in shock I’m turning to human pests. Too bad you don’t have any of them, except for the meter maids, in your metroplex. Unlike your scary bug that really didn’t DO anything, the human pests always do stuff to drive the rest of the human race totally nuts. Question: how come an inanimate object with wheels can turn a previously mild and meek individual into a raging monster? Case in point…the two lane rural road in front of our house curves through the countryside until about one half a mile both ways when it straightens out. So what does every red-blooded American boy or girl do? Why step on the gas, of course. Ignore those 40 mile per hour signs, terrorize Pet and her little dog, go, go, go, you PEST, PEST, PEST.


I have to agree that the human PEST is far worse than any insect. But before I go on a rant about homosapien PESTS I have another kind of PEST story. On one of those perfect putter-in-the-yard days I decided to plant a cutting garden. Like any good gardener knows, prepping a new space is really important. I eagerly tilled the soil dreaming of all the fantastic flower arrangements that would soon be gracing my parlor. Once I worked in some topsoil I figured out my flower placement and got down on my knees and started planting. Things were going along great until my trowel hit the edge of a large underground tunnel. It didn’t take long for the resident to come out and find out who had disturbed his home. Little beady eyes stared up at me and a loud grunt came from its snaggle tooth filled mouth. I’d never come face to face with a gopher before. This little sucker was ticked. He stood his ground and kept grunting. Our stand off turned out to be one legends are made of. : ) He obviously didn’t know who he was tangling with. I got out the trusty garden house and gave him one heck of a bath. He scurried off never to be seen again.


So many pests inhabit both the city and the country. The last time we spent a night at a motel in a very urban section of Brooklyn, NY, we were horrified by raccoon family scavenging in a garbage bin. A tough bunch, I can understand why your city gopher turned out to be a worthy adversary. Sometimes even deer come out of the parks and feed on city gardens. Here in the countryside we are inundated with them although they all disappear when hunting season starts. They are lovely creatures, so graceful, but boy can they chomp down on the veggie garden especially during dry season. Plus become a major hazard when driving after dark. Another hungry garden predator is the cute little bunny rabbit. Fortunately we have a healthy stand of clover keeping the little buggers happy. Still, I’m suspicious of the adorable little fur balls consuming my just planted baby dill. I planted fragrant herbs in the spot where the zucchini attracted a million squash bugs last year. I plan to buy the squash and cook them with fresh herbs as long as the bunnies stay away. So even after I put my number on the Do Not Call list, I’m still constantly fighting pests.


The PESTS I fight in the city are mostly the human variety.  Besides the scourge of uniform clad, ticket totting netter maids, the second worst PESTS in the city are what I like to call the grocery stalkers. I’m sure in the country you might have your own version, but here in LA with endless organizations and causes to promote and raise money for I feel like I need body armor to even think about entering the grocery store. Sometimes the entrance is almost totally blocked by tables covered with petitions and food drives and the people who stand guard waiting to pounce on you. And don’t get me started about when it’s election time. I’ve even resorted to doing drive by’s before I pick which grocery store is safe to shop at. The people hustling green petitions should be horrified that they are actually forcing me to increase my carbon footprint. What happened to the days when all you had to worry about was the Girl Scouts and the ten pounds you’re going to gain from buying way too many boxes of cookies from the cute girl with braids?   


How about the scantily clad car washers barricading the shopping center parking lot? I try to avoid shopping on a Saturday but even though I’m a major food hoarder, sometimes my freezer runs out of an essential item and there I go, getting the car washed whether she needs it or not just to gain entrance to the super market. I’d much rather make a donation to the cheer leaders, or first grade soccer, than plow through the parking lot pests. I’d also like to send some $$$ to that throw away newspaper which gets thrown away on the lawn every weekend. Here’s money for not delivering this pesky addition to the newspaper recycle bin.  How about the kids in your family who sell stuff? You love them so you’ll buy but how much wrapping paper or chocolate bars do two people need? I guess we’d best not get on family pests or we’ll run out of blog space. Maybe I should just stick with the insects as I swat one of those disgusting little moths who try to take over my overstocked pantry with food still zip locked from last year. Boy the subject of pests is a never-ending one!


That’s for sure. So I’ll close this post out with a story about Pasadena’s most famous PEST, no it’s not our cute and annoying squirrels, it’s a very special seasonal PEST, The Rose Parade Locusts. They start arriving about a week before the parade in large caravans of Winnebago’s and family vehicles.  They begin to stake out their favorite spots up and down the parade route. Going into Old Town turns into a logistical nightmare, dodging people with camping equipment and chairs while you’re trying to get into your favorite restaurant. I have a friend who actually turns the whole thing into a sport as his house in on the parade route. When the parade locusts start staking out spots in front of his house he tells them the city has changed the parade route to two blocks over. He takes great glee in seeing their confused and then panicked faces. Now I don’t condone his bad behavior but I can understand his frustration. You should see the huge mounds of trash the locusts leave in front of his house when they fly off. Nothing worse then a PEST that doesn’t clean up after itself!


Fran said...

In Baltimore we have rabbits that love our veggie garden and
dandelions. The bunnies bring out the foxes so nature takes care of our pests but not in a pretty way!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Realizing we don't really HAVE pests in the desert of Phoenix is a nice bit of consolation for the fact that we hit 100 degrees's gonna be a long summer! But pretty much pest-free. :)

Wendy Nealis said...

To me its the little fury pain in the --- squirels.but the worst of all pests.. is the human ones!!!!


You know what I do in my garden, I plant for me, and some for the wild life, keeps everyone happy. Live and let live.