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As long as I’ve been coming to this place we’ve had infestations. Sometimes it’s been ants or pack rats or miller moths. Of course tourists are a constant infestation, but that’s another story.
Most infestations are fairly local, so yours may be different from ours, but this year we have three really annoying infestations, which is about two more than usual.
First, we have the biting flies. In most summers we have some flies and then we have the horse-flies, and those are annoying enough. This summer we have smaller but more vicious flies, and there are swarms of them. Little guys, but with a nasty bite, and they seem to find their way through the smallest gaps in my admittedly none too fly-proof screens.
Second, we have had a population explosion among the yellow jackets. They love sugar, which means that the slightest drip from a hummingbird feeder results in a gathering of these yellow and black striped beauties. Ours haven’t stung anyone yet, but yellow jackets have a reputation for stinging just for the fun of it and they can do it over and over without any harm to them.
Finally, we have more pine squirrels, or red squirrels, or chickarees, (they go by all those names and you may have some more) than we’ve seen in many, many years. They get into bird feeders and love bird’s eggs. I can’t really hold that against them. But they also seem to like my attic as a place to live and they seem to find a way in even though I’ve sealed everything as tightly as I can.
In most years we have three or four who stake out the territory around our house, but this year it’s been at least three times that number, and I’ve seen their squashed bodies on the roads, too, which is unusual.
And we also have Ebert squirrels, who seem to have homes of their own. They’ve been growing in numbers and we have a gray, a black and a brown, but they aren’t an infestation, yet.
In the period when Katherine Garetson was homesteading, pack rats and mice were the scourge; “Rats and mice tormented me,” she said. In recent years mice haven’t been a huge problem, particularly if you have a cat and it’s been a long time since I’ve heard anyone complain about a pack rat.
Every year it seems to be something different. Last year it was the millers and this year you can take your pick of three. Next year I’m betting on the ants, but you never know; the pack rats may be back.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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