Friday, December 21, 2012

Catch You At The Rapture

  If you are reading this, chances are that we will all survive another near-death experience when it comes to world ending events.  Mankind has managed to evade the Rapture hundreds of times, with some of these predicted events predating the birth of Christ.  From Nostradamus to 1960’s psychic Jean Dixon; from mass murderer Charles Manson to Marshall Applewhite, who instructed followers to have rolls of quarters for the spaceship vending machines after they were saved from earth’s destruction.  So why think the Mayan’s are any better at predicting the end of the world then these other geniuses.     
     Needless to say, come Friday morning, I will wake up and my garden will still need pruning, there will be leaves to remove from the base of the shrubs, there will be stubborn weeds still growing and in need of pulling.  There will still be mulch that needs to be spread, plants to be relocated or divided, a pond to be cleaned.  My vegetable garden will still need to be tilled and prepped for spring and seeds will need to be ordered. 
     I’m not planning on cancelling any garden magazine subscriptions nor will I fail to renew any of my certification licenses.  Besides, how can the world come to an end when I still have so much work to do?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Not Feeling The Muskrat Love

      Many years ago, The Captain and Tennille singing duo, had a hit song called ‘Muskrat Love’.  They sang about a pair of muskrats twirling and doing a tango and jitterbugging in muskrat land.  I hated that song then and even more so today!     
      One of our customers called because they were experiencing drastic water lose in their pond and the water was very muddy.  After some rock moving and poking around, we found very large holes in the thick rubber liner of the pond.  Muskrats!  A muskrat had decided the pond was a perfect place to call home and proceeded to dig through the liner and create a burrow with several entrances.  This is a disaster, and I thought groundhogs were bad. 
One big hole

A second hole
A third hole...
there are more but I got tired of posting them
I am getting quite the education about muskrats.  They are the largest member of the microtine rodent family and spends its life in aquatic habitats.  Adult muskrats are usually 18”- 24” in length with large males reaching 30” long.  The average weight is around 2 ½ pounds and those big males can reach 4 pounds.  Females can produce 3 to 6 litters per year and 5 to 6 kits per litter are not uncommon.  They are capable of remaining under water for 20 minutes.  They are known for their damage; chewing boat motor wires, burrowing into floating boat docks, burrowing into earthen dams, which can lead to collapse, and of course the above mentioned atrocity  to our customer’s pond.
    It is trapping season so the homeowners can set out some traps and try and catch this aquatic devil.  I have seen several recipes online for ways to grill, roast and sauté muskrat, which I may pass on to them.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Stink Bugs And Elections

What is up with all the stink bugs?  I think it may be connected to the 
political elections this year, but that is just a personal observation.   I have been finding them everywhere; on window screens, in drawers, in my knitting, living and dead ones on every window ledge and even one in my shower. 
Stink Bug
     So why so many this year?   It may have to do with the early spring we had this year, allowing for two generations of stinks bugs to grow this season.  Expect more of the same next year.  Each female carries 10 egg sacs with up to 28 eggs in each sac. 

Wheel Bug
 But help may be on the way in the form of the wheel bug, a type of assassin beetle, which if possible, is uglier that the stink bug.  There is also a tiny Asian wasp, which controls the stink bug in China.  I’m sure I’ll be writing about those future infestations one day…the cycle just continues.  
Asian Wasp

      The best way to handle these bugs is to seal your home’s cracks and openings, repair screens and hope for a cold winter.  If you vacuum these bugs in your house, change your bag that day because stink bugs live up to their name.  I have heard a solution of water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle is one way to kill them and spraying your screens with a mix of water and dawn detergent is suppose to repel them.
     Stink bugs may be with us for a few years.  Elections have consequences and so do mild winter.