Tag Archives: pests

Tenting

In this summer of wildfires, the only ones doing any tenting are the caterpillars.

In my front yard is a black walnut tree that the Captain and I planted when it was no more than a six-foot high stick. Twenty-six years later it is a tall tree, desperately reaching for the sky as the leylandi cypress beside it crowds it more every year.

But see who is camping in the walnut tree! With all the warnings about camping being banned in so many places, these tenters have invaded my yard AGAIN! They attacked the apple trees in the early spring. Then they came back to take up residence in  the walnut tree (the kind that has walnuts) in the backyard, and now they are taking up residence in the ornamental black walnut in the front yard. They’re getting smarter too. This time they are much higher and out of my reach.


Here is a closer look.

And an even closer look. You can see that many of the leaves have already been eaten. I looked up tent caterpillars and found out that these are most likely the larvae of the malacosoma moth. I don’t think I like moths anymore.

Guess I’ll have to call the fire department to come and get this tent out of the tree. They have high ladders and brave men, but oh, hold on — they’re all busy fighting wildfires just now. I’ll have to see if I can find a good Samaritan to help me out.

Do you have these unwanted guests tenting in your yard too?

A Not-so-boring Boring Beetle

Many years ago I saw one of these beetles in my yard and later wondered if it was one of those terrible Asian longhorned beetles that destroy our forests. Should I have killed it and saved our forests?

Most likely our forests were not in danger, and I’m glad I didn’t kill the poor bug. Yes, it bores into wood and lays its eggs there so its progeny will also bore into the wood, but it prefers dead wood. By eating the dead wood, it is actually doing more good than harm.

Today, I found this poor little guy already dead on the walk beside my house. I picked it up with my bare hands in spite of the horror I have of touching bugs. If it had wiggled, I would have been in trouble. But no, it didn’t move. I wanted to take its picture so I could identify it for sure.

I apologized to it for placing it in such an undignified pose, but I wanted to be sure, in case I needed to confirm its I.D. by its underside.  If you click to make the photo below bigger, you can see that it has fuzzy mitts on its front legs and tufts of “fur” on its antennae.

Here is what I found out.

It is a banded alder beetle, often confused with the Asian longhorn beetle, a
damaging exotic pest.

I found more information at this site:

https://entomology.oregonstate.edu/sites/agscid7/files/entomology/Banded_Alder%20Borer_13.pdf

They said:

The easiest way to distinguish these two species is  to look at the segment directly behind the head. On the Asian longhorn beetle the area is entirely shiny black while on the BAB the area is white with a single, large black spot that occupies 60% or more of the segment.

DSCN0767

On the photo above you can see that black circle on its head, a sure sign that it is a banded alder borer, and not the dreaded Asian longhorn beetle.

Oh, Rats!

It really is time to mow the grass. It’s getting to be embarrassingly long. Sure we live in a semi-rural area and it’s not so important to have the lawn clippy-clippy perfect—you may have noticed I called it the grass, not the lawn—but still, it’s “high” time (excuse the pun) to cut it.

The John Deere riding mower is parked in the half-finished storage shed. One wall of the shed is still open. Makes it easy to drive in and out with the mower.

I fill the gas tank from a fuel caddy. Screw the cap back on the tank. Need to check the oil. I lift the hood on the mower and let out a shriek. There, between the motor and the battery sits a fat rat. It shrinks together and stares at me with shocked beady eyes, then hops to the other side of the battery just before I drop the hood.

Now what? Well, first things first. I have to stand there and shake and shudder and groan and wail for a minute. No way can I sit in the driver’s seat now with the rat only inches away behind a thin wall of metal. And anyway, I still have to check the oil. No way can I lift the hood again and reach in to unscrew the dipstick. No way the grass is getting cut today. But I have to cut it. The sky is threatening rain in the next hours and the grass is already too long.

I find a pair of long-handled pruners and bang on the tires with them. Nothing happens. I bang on the hood. Nothing happens. I bang on the side of the mower. Something scurries to somewhere. But did it leave the mower or did it run to hide underneath it? Maybe it’s sitting on top of the mower blades.

Standing well back, I gingerly open the hood again. No rat in sight. Quick! Check the oil. Fine. Put the dipstick back. Drop the hood. Take a breath. Put my earplugs in. Start the mower.

I back it out of the storage shed. So far so good.  I put the blade in gear and turn the steering wheel to start mowing. Was that a squeak from the steering wheel or a squeak from a rat? With the earplugs in, I can’t tell. Moments later, I realize the chute from the blades to the catcher bag is plugged. Is it the long grass, or something else? I stop the mower. Nervously, I use my garden claw to reach down into the chute. What will I pull up? Grass? Or pureed rat?

I have serious thoughts about moving closer to town, but I saw a rat run across the street in town one night, so I know they’re everywhere. I’ll just have to  tough it out. Oh, you’ll be wanting to know what I pulled out of the chute. Only grass … this time. I can hardly wait till it’s mowing time again. Meanwhile I’m going shopping for full body armour.