Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Biblical Plagues

This summer has been a little bit strange. The spring was cold and wet and the summer has been hot and humid. Nothing has been totally out of the range that would be considered normal but the conditions have been such to trigger some events that I'll refer to as biblical plagues.

About a month ago I mowed our two acres and everything was normal. Two weeks later I mowed and was beseiged by small beige moth like insects flying in clouds as my tractor passed over. Thousands, thousands of these insects flew up as I passed through them, attempting to dodge their path. Yikes! I'm not a big fan of the insect world.

A quick trip around the internet resulted identification - sod webworms in the lawn. Got a strong stomach? Read about them.


Yuck. Insects.

Shortly after the appearance of the moth plague brown patches began to appear on the lawn. The old homestead was beginning to look like the Addams Family had taken up residence.

What to do? We called the lawn guy to come and zap them. I was reading that there are biological controls such as spreading nematodes but I would never be able to sleep with the thought that gajillions of THESE CREEPY ROUNDWORMS crawling around outside my window.

These webworms are an infestation in northern Illinois this year. When we were returning from Tennessee we encountered clouds of them as we drove north across the Illinois river.

If that wasn't enough a second plague has visited us in the form of an amphibian. Late one evening I went out the door on the small porch, intending to retrieve something from my car. I was stopped dead in my tracks. On the concrete porch floor was a knot of toads. That is the correct collective known for a group of toads but I much prefer "a slimy lump of toads".

I quickly retreated back in the house, not willing to confront the ugly creatures. Every night the scene was repeated. My son reported up to a half dozen toads on the porch when he returned from his late shift at the hospital.

Has my porch become the local toady disco? Personally, I want them to find another spot to party.

Although these things are an annoyance to us, in the time of our pioneer forefathers these types of occurrences - bad weather, insects and marauding amphibians - could have spelled death. They lived on a razor's edge of food production. The book Cold Mountain gives you a look into the seriousness with which people planned for the months and years ahead. The loss of your hog could mean starvation in the winter. Failure to stockpile enough firewood for the winter could mean you'd freeze.

Our recent visit to The Homeplace was a reminder of how hard these people worked to provide for their families and how organized, mindful and resourceful they needed to be just to survive.

Any unusual occurences in your area?


Lori said...

We have the moths too and oh my gosh, grasshoppers! We have tons of grasshoppers compared to other years.

Vee said...

Only those Japanese beetles that you warned me about...thank goodness! I don't believe that I could handle a knot of toads on my deck or porch. Ugh. And trying to mow the lawn must've been awful with all those moths flying up. Total ugh. May it all clear out. I'm looking into some sort of bio solution to the beetles to be administered this fall and spring since the little buggers burrow into the ground for the winter.

Lisa D. said...

It's been a bit strange up here too. Half the province is struggling with flooding after several years of dry. And our half of the province is struggling with drought conditions. All the willow trees in our area appear to be dying or diseased or something and so far no one is quite sure what the problem is. A few other trees that were healthy all of a sudden have weakened trunks and branches and they are all bent over. The province to the west of us has also been very dry and has been fighting huge forest fires. Last weekend the smoke from those fires had blown over our province and was continuing to blow east. It's been a strange summer!

Kelly said...

Its been a great year for insects - especially ones we don't see regularly. You probably were also getting lots of celery leaftier moths in your area too. We had lots of reports of webworms, moths, Japanese beetles, and even some mites.

myletterstoemily said...

you are so right about the razor's edge
our ancestors skate upon.

my family endured the dust bowl, and
the stories are horrendous.

sorry about your summer of plagues.

Leslie T said...

The moths -- ugh. Kudos to you for getting the lawn mowed. The toads, they don't bother me. When I was a kid, we used to have tons of them in our backyard. Yep, in suburban Southern California, 30 miles outside of L.A. You would have thought we lived in a swamp for all the croaking on a summer's night. We used to catch the toads every night and put them in a box, then let them go before we went to bed. Night after night we'd catch those same old toads, all summer long. I suspect they came to feel like it was a ritual. They probably just hung out as soon as the sun went down, waiting for us. :)
Bugs in general don't bother me too much unless they're in huge numbers, like your moths. Then it's creepy. I'll tell you the one bug that really freaks the daylights out of me -- black widows. I hate those things and I will unload half a can of Raid on one of them, until the death throes are complete. Anytime I spot one of them in the yard, you can hear me for blocks around yelling, "Die! Die! Die!" as I head into the house for the can of bug spray. Of course, if my husband happens to be home, I will simply cry, "Ack!!! A widder! GET IT!!!" and he will do the murdering himself. :)