Category Archives: wildlife

Uncle!

I have more ants. Last weekend’s attempted destruction of the giant ant hill and its satellite barely slowed them down – they’ve rebuilt in full, and I daresay they’re even bigger. Last night, I spied a handful of ants in the dining room, along the baseboards, carrying a crumb of food. I discovered my can of ant spray was empty, so I Windexed them to death.

This morning, while brushing my teeth, I looked down into the backyard from the guest room and could plainly see the larger ant hill from my window.

This means war.

I went to Home Depot and bought weapons for a triple-pronged approach: good old-fashioned spray (“kills on contact!”), bait traps and some powdered poison that supposedly will take out the hills once and for all. Hopefully tomorrow will be rain-free so I can bait the hills.

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Update Sunday afternoon: While getting ready to head upstairs for the night, I noticed a moving black crumb on the kitchen floor. It was a mass of ants – easily 20 of the little buggers – who had united to hoist a piece of catfood and carry it back to their lair. Now, Collette’s not always the tidiest eater – she often drops a piece or two of food to the floor right outside her bowl – but this was a good 3-4 feet away. Such power!

We sprung into action, first locking the curious cat upstairs, away from the pending poison, along with her food and water bowls. We sprayed all the kitchen and dining room baseboards with the new ant spray, laid down bait traps under the fridge and stove, and called it a night.

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Weed’n and Feed’n with the Whirlybird

The front of my house is awash with color! The red tulips and yellow daffodils are starting to bloom, and the purple and pink petunias from last weekend are taking hold. The grass is greening with all the rain, and the brown, dead leaves have been raked away.

There’s a bit of unwanted color, though, too. Dandelions.

Two years ago, when I moved in, half the front yard (the section between front walk and driveway) was a mess of crabgrass, dandelions and these strange purple vines that choked everything else. Mid-way through the summer, I took the nuclear option, liberally applying herbicide that killed everything in just a few days. Following the scorched earth, I put down about 200 lbs of new soil and reseeded the whole thing. The rest of the lawn got a liberal dose of weed and feed.

So in an effort to nip things in the bud, I pulled out the Whirlybird spreader and methodically meandered through the front yard. It’s a tad windy, but hopefully enough of it will stay put to have an effect.

While in the backyard, I found a giant ant colony – heck, nearly an ant continent – that wasn’t there last weekend. It was huge, and had a satellite colony about 15 feet away. Don drowned it, and we were both shocked at how much water it took before the thing collapsed, revealing a deep, deep network of tunnels. Nearby, there were several relatively large stones, each 3-4 inches in size. We conjecture that while building the tunnels, the ants moved these rocks! So I’ve got another thing to monitor over the next couple weeks. If it comes back, we’ll try the chemical route.

Where ladybugs go to die

Last night, in a fit of spring energy mixed with winter disgust, I mopped the floors and pulled down some of the window plastic. Everything seems much brighter. The tile is a much cheerier sandy orange. Though I’ve gotten pretty good at shrinkwrapping my windows so you can’t really tell, the film is indeed a film. Now that it’s gone, the whole room seems brighter.

I was as careful as I could be removing the plastic. Even, so, I accidentally peeled up a couple chunks of windowsill paint in my bedroom. Fortunately, they’re windowsills I painted when I moved in (and removed the baseball wallpaper), so I have plenty of spare paint. It should be a relatively quick touchup some dreary day.

However, I was amazed – shocked, nearly – at the volume of dead ladybugs trapped between the window glass and the film! Most windows had at least three or four beetle bodies, but some – namely the upstairs hallway and bathroom – had a dozen, easy. In the fall, when they start coming in to the house, Collette has a field day chasing them, trapping them under her paws, and crunching them as they try to fly away. She didn’t seem too interested in the long-dead carcases, though.

I wonder how they got there, though. My seals were pretty tight, so they must have wriggled in through both the storm window and the glass. The storm windows wouldn’t surprise me, since they’re old and don’t really fit snugly. The glass itself is a bit concerning, though. Both those windows are on my list to replace sooner rather than later, and they’re exactly the same size and age – big and old.

I can just imagine a whole line of them seeking shelter from the cold October nights, crawling towards the house, hurtling the storm window, and glass before getting trapped by the film.

Unless, of course, I’ve disproved Redi and Pasteur. Maybe there really is spontaneous generation and my house should be a research site!

Mysterious critters

Sometimes, I come into the kitchen and find Collette sitting on the floor, staring up at the exhaust fan/vent with rapt fascination.

The old-fashioned Air King seems to elicit the same response among my friends: “My grandma has that same fan in her kitchen!”

I’ve never used it all that much, since I’ve never previously had an exhaust fan. Really, I only flip it on when the smoke detector (the one too close to the stove) goes off.

But increasingly over the past couple weeks, Collette’s interest has been piqued by rustling and rattling coming from within the fan. My guess is that some critter is trying to build a nest in the vent part that protrudes outside. I went out to investigate it a couple weekends ago, but learned just how high up it is – I didn’t think about my house effectively sitting half a story above ground level. At the time, the ground was much too icy to consider safely using my ladder to climb up and have a look. Now, the ground’s too soft and muddy – I don’t think I could stabilize the ladder sufficiently to be safe.

Too bad I can’t just send Collette up there. I’m sure she’d take care of the uninvited guest, lickity-split.

A Girly License to Kill?

Sure, we’ve got the aforementioned pink tools, but at some point, suburban homeowners must consider something that’s illegal in the city. That’s right, I’m talking pink firearms.

I’ve been relatively lucky when it comes to pests. (Insert knock on wood.) Other than a couple cockroaches – oh, and the bat – my cat has happily tended to my pest control needs. She’s particularly fond of ladybugs.

But plenty of suburbanites face far greater problems. Growing up, our cedar-sided house was attacked by woodpeckers. Squirrels built a nest in the attic above my parents’ room. Chipmunks ran amok, digging hole after hole after hole in the yard. My boss spent last summer chasing rabbits away from his plants.

Eventually, many suburban homeowners stop playing nice and pull out the big guns. More precisely, they rely on air rifles, bb guns and related light firearms to rid themselves of the suburban menace.

Which brings me back to the pink rifle available through Pyramid Air.

Who is the target market? Target shooting girls? Homeowner girls? The description exudes energy and pep:

Think pink! Pink guns are the hottest trend. They’re the surest way to get girls interested in the shooting sports. Get one for the girl in your family, and you’ll be surprised how much she loves shooting! If you’re a gun collector, you need to get this one! It’s sure to become a collectible!

But would the pink air rifle take out a squirrel if need be?