Thursday, June 22, 2006

Report from the Yard

The deer flies are back, but they don’t seem to be as numerous in our yard as last year. The bad news is that they are present all up and down the road so as to make dog walking fairly unpleasant. The fly repellent we bought for the dogs seems to work for them, and I just have to remember to apply the OFF insect repellent before I go out.

These devils come at you in swarms of five to ten flies, and it hurts when they bite. Their saliva inhibits blood clotting and makes some people sick. The bites raise itchy welts on me. Mercifully, their life spans are brief, only a few weeks.

The consensus seems to be that there is not much that can be done to control deer flies, so I aim to do nothing except keep them off of me and the missus and the dogs. I set out traps last summer, but aside form the vengeance factor this seemed to have little impact on the flies. I took to putting fly paper on my hat and found that I could catch a hundred flies an hour while gardening.

On a more positive note, Jasper seems to have been broken of his obsessive frog stalking. He still hunts frogs on occasion, but it is no longer an all consuming non-stop obsession. We interrupt him whenever we notice he is in the pond, and this seems to have done the trick. We repaired most of the damage he did during his frog stalking mania.

There are at least three downy woodpeckers who frequent the woodpecker feeder and a pair of red bellied woodpeckers. So far, no pileated woodpeckers have appeared. The dominant bird in the yard lately has been the common grackle. Swifty, the ruby throated hummingbird, seems to have lost his mate Christine as she has not made an appearance at the feeder for several weeks. Perhaps she is nesting.

Brad and Janet, the water snakes, have been scarce this last week. Some of the shiners we introduced to the pond survive yet, and I am contemplating adding another couple of dozen. I’d really like some sunnies and perch, as they would be more visible, but I would have to catch them somewhere.

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