It's officially summertime, and in Georgia that means sweltering heat, afternoon thunder showers, snakes and bugs. Insects, critters, varmints, whatever you choose to call them, they outnumber us two-legged varmints in the summer by thousands to one, probably more.
It's a thought on which I can't dwell for long, because it gives me the heebie-jeebies.
We love our back yard. My husband has worked very hard to make it into our private oasis. There's a lovely back porch and an inviting pool, and there are beautiful flower and vegetable gardens. With these lovely additions, however, comes a wide variety of slinking, crawling, skittering, hopping creatures right in our own back yard, literally. Some of them even make it as far as the inside of our house!
I can't stand them, but I must coexist with them. I also will not use chemicals on our grass, vegetables or flowers, so I have to coexist with them naturally. I have to kill them with natural ingredients or by natural means, in other words. Everything from soaps to oils to stomping is allowed.
Let me give you an example. There is some sort of spider that loves to jump into our pool and skitter across the top of the water to the nearest sunbather. My heart flip-flops inside my chest when I see one running right for me across the top of the crystal blue water.
Frogs and snakes jump and slither into the pool. One winter, a squirrel jumped into the pool and apparently froze solid as he tried to make his exit via the stairs. That was weird, but it was wintertime, so the squirrel didn't scamper over anyone in the pool to try to run up the steps. That would've been awful.
Big, fat grub worms are bad for two reasons. They can eat a bushel of tomatoes before you can say "insecticidal soap," and they attract snakes. Sweat bees, hornets and wasps are problems for obvious reasons; at our house, you have to be quick enough to swat them if you plan to kill them. I can't stand bugs, frogs and snakes, but I refuse to contribute to the pools of poison that make their way into our water supply on a daily basis in the name of lush green lawns and freakishly big, bug-free plants. Bees and butterflies – I like having them around.
I read an article a few days ago about other, natural means of killing unwanted pests around the house. According to the Huffington Post, a woman nearly burned her house down when she tried to catch a spider web – and the resident arachnid – on fire. A man in Florida burned his apartment down trying to rid his abode of bugs. A Texas woman burned her house down trying to kill a snake, and a California woman who was using a blowtorch to clear outseveral spider webs, well, she has much bigger problems now, like looking for a place to live.
I have learned to use insecticidal soap and various oils to vanquish the mostly invisible (but hungry) creatures that munch on our plants with abandon. I learned to do that by talking with old-time farmers whose years of experience yields invaluable lessons.
There are just a few critters that have me stumped (more, probably, but just a few of which I am aware). Slugs. Just ... gross. Mosquitoes. What on earth is their purpose? Ticks – I have to ask the same question. Why? Flies. I attribute them to God's boundless sense of humor, or perhaps something He cooked up when He was having a bad day. They're just nasty, and very pesky. I have no idea how to enjoy some peace outdoors without all these things, so any suggestions are welcome. And the water spiders? I bought a pellet gun for those things. Some things just cannot be tolerated.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL (Apr 2016, Skyhorse Publishing), was recently named the Finalist for 2017 Georgia Author of the Year in the Detective/Mystery genre. Her previous three books are written with Southern humor. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she's not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family and life in her beloved South.