The Cool House: pests
Showing posts with label pests. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pests. Show all posts

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lousy, Holey Hostas

Last year the Hostas were shredded by a monster hailstorm, this year it looked like slugs had got to them. Holes everywhere, neighbours out with pet-friendly snail bait, and the conditions this year have been ideal for an infestation: rainy, damp, humid weather for months. The wet weather is what makes gardening in the UK so challenging and rewarding but it's not something I've come to expect from New York's Long Island.

Having grown up a warrior in the never-ending fight against the pests I was well prepared to find lots of the slimy creatures and to deal with them. My father dug cups of beer into the ground and sprinkled salt on those that slunk lazily down the paths leaving their silvery trails behind. As a pre-schooler I was encouraged to hunt for slugs and proudly carried an old beach bucket half filled with beer and salt to drop them in. (I believe there was a reward for most slugs captured). I was ready to do battle! I searched and searched for slugs and snails, turning up leaves by day, at night peering under them by flashlight. But I found no sign.

There were plenty of holes in the leaves, even my Basil had been attacked. But no sign of slugs. Which is when a lightbulb went off in my head.

Investigation around the yard showed me that only the common green Hostas had been eaten; the giant species and the variegated varieties had been ignored. Furthermore the basil is in a huge container 2' off the ground. If it were a slug chewing on my favourite salad herb he would either have had to parachute in, master the art of trampolining without the necessary equipment, or he would have left a trail. I checked: No trail.

I went back and looked a little closer at the holey leaves. And there they were. Everywhere.

The culprits: Woodlice on every leaf, on the ground, under my plants. Not surprising really as they like moisture even more than slugs do. It's still a mystery why they are eating only the less interesting Hostas but the most pressing question was what to do about them. According to those in the know they prefer dead material to live plants so I could leave decaying plant material about for them to gnaw on, although this would probably look worse than the half-eaten Hostas. The other ingenious suggestion I read about here: Drinking straws. This I can do, after all it's the perfect solution for a cocktail drinker. Let the Woodlice War commence!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

He's backkkkkkkk

Thanks to the telephoto lens I got for my birthday last year I can now get a decentish shot of the D*mn Woodpecker TM.
Beautiful, isn't he? And useful for insect control. But with a few taps he can knock a hole big enough to use a nest for the family. So long as he stays in the tree he's safe. If he comes near the redwood siding again.......all bets are off.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pest Control Quadrupled

It's that time of the year when spring glides into summer; the days are long, the nights are warm and small furry creatures abound. In other words it's party-time for the cats. This is the first summer in a while that we have had four active, healthy adult cats and boy are we noticing it. Every morning and usually evening too, the doorstep looks like a butcher's slab. What would madam like today? A nice mouse head? Side of vole? Filleted chipmunk?
But today they outdid themselves. I don't know if it was individual offerings or team work but we have 1 (one) small grey mouse, 1 (one) vole, 2 (two) chipmunks on the kitchen terrace and lawn, plus 1 (one) black rat by the garage door and 1 (one) flattened squirrel by the front drive. I willing to concede even my cats couldn't have been responsible for the last corpse but they could have chased it to its demise under a truck.
How do I deal with this carnage? Denial that's how. The Guy is in Minnesota so the death will not exist until he returns home. I will enter and exit the house by uncontaminated paths. Hopefully I won't run out of unsullied methods of egress before then.
*No other pictures for the post. You all know what these animals look like and besides, let's respect the little corpses, OK?

Friday, November 02, 2007


'Tis fall, and 'tis the season for wildlife. Some people hunt them, me I just try to keep out of their way. This autumn though I've had close encounters with raccoons, chipmunks and field mice but today topped all that. Waiting for me when I came into the drive with the dogs after our walk was a dead rat. A very large flat, dead rat. I tried to convince myself it was a squirrel but no, the tail was very unfluffy.
I knew we had had rats in the garage when we bought this house, there was a big hole in the wall and the smell of rat urine was overpowering, but I could see no droppings or other physical evidence that they were still there, certainly not an actual rat - alive or dead.
This corpse was about 75' from the house and had obviously been run over by a truck or possibly a steam roller. I didn't bother to take a photo but if you want to see one I can recommend this site where they invite you to CLICK ANY DEAD PHOTO BELOW FOR A LARGER IMAGE. Dead photos. Nice.
The kitties are doing their work to keep the local rodent population down but this rat was at least 8" long, plus tail and that's about the size of Maya. I hope they are up to the job because I don't want to meet any live rats around here. And I'd prefer not to see any more dead ones either.