Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Insects And Me

In the mid seventies I was living in upstate New York. A former girlfriend came up to visit and told me she was moving out to Oregon and we agreed to travel together because I was tired of living there. On the way we stopped in Yellowstone and decided to clean off in a hot pool along the Firehole River. Perfectly fine said a ranger as long as we didn't use soap and such.
We languished for an hour in this natural hot tub next to a babbling river in a surreal misty morning, while a herd of elk clomped by. Yellowstone, for fuck's sake.
Three days later we both found out to our horror that we had a raging case of body crabs. Apparently the water temperature was perfect for the creatures and we both had them everywhere, even our eyebrows.

Twenty five years ago I woke my wife up one week by abruptly sitting up in bed because there was a fluttering in my ear similar to when you get water in there that sloshes around. When it got too egregious I stuck a Q Tip in to see if I could drain it. It came out a little bloody so into immediate care I went.
When the doctor looked in he said "Whoa, something's looking back."
Apparently a silverfish had been living in my ear for about three days, living off my ear wax. I laid on my side while the doctor filled my ear canal with water and he plucked the thing out when it floated up.

On a later trip to Yellowstone the Mrs and I decided to explore a river with boiling fumaroles. We were promptly attacked by hordes of deerflies. During our hasty retreat we were so distracted beating these things off each other that we almost stepped into one of the pots. Aside from a faulty parachute during college days and a motorcycle wreck ten years later, it was the closest I've ever been to dying.

Up in Oregon I kept a lot of dry food in big containers. Unfortunately I never realized that wool moths really, really also loved rice, millet and such, so a whole bunch of good food went into the compost bin. By the way, I've learned that a simple way to prevent infestation is to wrap your food in black plastic bags.

Down here in the SW, if you have beloved and very valuable Navajo rugs, flufficate them regularly to keep the moth larva out of them.

As a gardener I was advised to watch out for tomato hornworms by friends and neighbors. So when as I was tilling the soil and I found giant larvae I'd toss them out for the birds to eat, thinking they were hornworms in the making. Unfortunately they were innocuous giant rhinoceros beetles, very common around here and they actually make great pets if you feed them fruit.

And being an organic gardener I discovered neem oil, an extract from an Asian tree that isn't exactly an insecticide, but has the chemical properties to make leaf eating insects just go to sleep and die.


Anonymous Nz said...

But if you think about it, to the insect microcosm, we are the careless, destructive giants who give them little or no respect.

24/5/12 3:28 AM  
Anonymous greencrow said...

The other morning, my husband and I noted a fly on our bedroom wall...Oh to be a "fly on the wall" I joked...then we started musing about the fly...was it actually a miniature drone sent to spy on us? Did it have a tiny microphone and camera within? Then we said "what would happen if we swatted it?" Would it blow the entire house up?

Such is the way our world has gone...


24/5/12 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Billy's brother, Earl said...

Interesting. I've never heard of crabs from hot springs. I've been in hot springs in the Yellowstone backcountry and was wondering what I was getting myself into. Had no trouble though......hmmmmm.....

24/5/12 1:52 PM  
Blogger nolocontendere said...

Earl I kid you not, we were covered head to toe with body crabs and it took a long time to eradicate the pests. I got the crabs a few times back in the days but this was utterly amazing.

Would've whacked it good gc. I don't countenance any invasive pests whether they're man made or natural.

And also Nz,I know these things have been around a long time before us, but no no, I'll trap those damn mice in the house and kill the moths and use neem oil to nail the insects in the garden. I do give them respect to be somewhere else.

24/5/12 5:08 PM  

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