Category Archives: bugs

Caffeine Addicted Ants

Saturday morning I was standing at my kitchen counter when a small ant walked by…just one, strolling along nice as you please.  Well he was, until I ended his tiny little life.  I wondered where he came from but didn’t give it much thought and went on with my day.

That evening I saw three ants on the counter.  What the heck!  I don’t have any open food, nothing to attract them.  Just who do they think they are invading my kitchen, and for what purpose?  It isn’t as if I have a feast laid out for the taking.  More like starvation mode when it comes to open food availability.  Yet there they were.  Were, as in past tense, I ended their lives abruptly.

Easter Sunday and the troops have gathered.  A little march of several ants daintily prancing across the back edge of my counter.  Time for major action.  I get out the bottle of Clorox Cleanup, their lives and trails are about to come to a chemically abrupt halt.  I plan to start my cleanup where I saw them.  They’re gone!  Where did they go?  Did they some how have a sixth sense about what my plans were and went into hiding?

Not to be deterred I started at that end of the counter and began my chemically enhanced assault on their chosen trail.   I began a clean and search mission to determine what was attracting them.  My first thought was the catch trays on the toaster.  Nope, no ants there, but they are now clean and empty.  They weren’t attempting to invade my candy dish of Werther’s Originals, nor were they near my dish of York Peppermint Patties.  These ants obviously don’t have a sweet tooth.

I’m working my way across the counter, moving things, spraying with Clorox Clean-up and wiping everything down.  The smell of the bleach in the product should help to deter the ants, at least for a small while.   I haven’t seen a single one as I’m cleaning.  Where did they go?

Then I move the coffee maker to spray the counter underneath it.  Wow!  Numerous ants under the machine happily milling around.  When I had a pot of coffee run over there must have been some on the bottom of the machine when I moved it back into place, and it had created a dried puddle of coffee on the counter.  That is where the ants were congregated.

I would have never suspected ants to be congregated in mass proportions under a coffee machine.  Is it the coffee they are attracted to, or the caffeine?  They were not inside the coffee grounds, only under the machine.  How were they consuming or transporting that sticky residue?  Does the caffeine give them a nice burst of energy like it does some humans?  One thing I do not want is ants operating on high energy in my house. Ant drinking coffee

Those ants experienced a very sudden chemical bomb delivered via spray bottle filled with Clorox Clean-up.  If anyone feels sympathy for them, it was a very quick death so suffering would have been minimal and death instantaneous.  In fact the ants died much faster than the removal of the stain.  As difficult as it was to clean up, I can’t imagine how those ants were getting any benefit from it.

The good news is I have not seen a single ant since Easter morning.  Either I have killed them all off (as if I really believe that), or they no longer have a purpose in traversing my counter.  Of course they could be lying in wait, hoping for another coffee run-over.

Summer hasn’t even started yet, so I doubt I will be lucky enough not to see those pesky little critters again.  When I do the first place I will check is the coffee maker, chemical bomb in hand, ready to inflict mass destruction on their invasive little bodies.   I think a killer instinct in me has emerged.

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under bugs, Cleaning, death, Discoveries, insects, Life is a Melting Pot, spring, summer

I like wildlife but I have my limits

I live in a home that is not quite city and not quite country.  I am on a state highway and have neighbors nearby, yet we also have quite a bit of wildlife in the area.  I usually enjoy these glimpses of nature in action, but this year I have had both the pleasurable and the less desirable.

There is a pair of rabbits that I have viewed on more than one occasion in my neighbor’s yard.  Normally you just see a rabbit hopping across the lawn, nothing spectacular.  This pair, however, is comical and unique.  One rabbit will jump up considerably high into the air and the other rabbit will run beneath it.  Then they will turn and repeat the steps again.  I have watched them do this on more than one occasion.  Even though they are annoying in the sense that the consume vegetation from the garden, they are comical and fun to watch.

I did not get the thistle and milkweed pulled from  my front bushes and the thistle has gotten quite large and gone to seed.  There are birds that seem to love this and frequently I look out to see them sitting on the weeds in the shrubbery.  This is pleasurable, enough so that I can forgive them for coming up onto my porch, sitting on my chairs there and  sometimes leaving reminders of their existence.

If you have been a reader for long you know that I have spiders on my porch every year due to my close proximity to the river.  I learn to watch for webs, and as long as they don’t violate the area I need to walk into my house at night, I tolerate them because the benefit is I have a mosquito free yard.  Our co-existence would be much easier if they would learn to build their webs on the end of the porch opposite the door, so a few large, persistent ones have been eliminated.

This year my limits have been tested.  When I was weed whacking along my patio two small mice jumped up and ran.  My daughter informed me that we have had mice outside for years, that my husband just never told me.  I would prefer if critters didn’t jump up and run when I am trying to trim the vegetation.

DSC_1691

The perfume factory. Photo copyright 2016 by Grace Grogan.

One night I came home after dark and my lights caught an animal walking across my drive — a skunk!  While Pepe Le Pew may be adorable in a cartoon, it is not something I want strolling my drive or yard when I am likely to be walking around in the area.  That particular night I pulled up onto the grass near my porch steps to hopefully eliminate any possibility of a skunk encounter.  As I came to a stop the skunk walked down the front sidewalk across the area near my steps and into the bushes beside the porch.  Needless to say I was a titch nervous when I walked up onto the porch to enter the house…so nervous I forgot to look for spiders!

The perfume factory’s appearance  was not a one-time sighting.  I could smell him periodically at night and a couple days after the initial sighting I saw him walking around in my backyard at 3:30 in the afternoon.  This definitely made me nervous as this is a nocturnal animal that was out and about in the middle of the day.  It appeared that he may have gone under my shed, but I certainly didn’t want to run out and look.  I have purchased mothballs, which I have been told if I spread in the bushes and around and underneath the shed will deter the skunk.

DSC_1705

Wasp/Hornet nest. Photo Copyright by Grace Grogan.

Before that problem had been tackled I discovered a hornet/wasp nest hanging on the upper corner of my shed.  It was fairly good size and very active.  I purchased two cans of spray designed to kill wasps and hornets and my daughter, Caroline, came over and doused the nest with a foaming spray the first night.  The next morning I looked out and the nest was still active.  Caroline’s boyfriend, Rob, is used to dealing with these pests when working, so he came over that night and re-sprayed that nest.  In the process of trying to eliminate one nest, he discovered three more nests had been started under a loose board so sprayed them all for me.  The next day Rob came back to check the inside of the shed where he discovered another five small hives being started.  Thanks to Rob all hives have been treated and destroyed and the loose board is nailed back for me.

So, wildlife is wonderful if it is deer standing in my front yard, rabbits playing a hopping game, or birds sitting on flowering weeds.  What I do not like is the perfume factory of Pepe Le Pew, mice, and wasps/hornets invading my space.   If they stay in the wooded areas things will be just fine.  After all, I have my limits, and my limits are not beneficial to their lifeline.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under backyard, bugs, Discoveries, flowers, habit, Life is a Melting Pot, spiders

Trilium Trek

          The trillium is a delicate, small, wildflower that blooms in the spring.  They can be found in white, pink, red, and the very rare painted variety.  Since 1980 the only sightings of the painted trillium in Michigan have all been within a 30 mile area of St. Clair County.
          Knowing that they were in bloom, my husband, Ron, and I went out on a search for painted trillium a couple weeks ago.  They are located in a wooded nature area.  Although I have not used bug spray in years, when you open the car door and the mosquitoes are coming inside you know precaution is needed.
          When you haven’t used bug spray in a while, there are a few pointers to remember.
          1.  When misting your face make sure you keep your mouth shut — that stuff does not taste good!
          2.  Spaying the majority of your body does not prevent mosquitoes from finding the spot you missed.
          3.  You will find out you forgot to spray an area at a most inopportune moment, such as when bent over taking a photograph and one decides to bite you on the backside through your jeans.
          4.  Evidence of a poor spray job may not become evident for hours, such as when you look in the mirror and realize the small section on the back of your arm from you elbow to wrist is covered in mosquito bites — 27 of them to be exact.
          Not that I’m admitting to any of the above, but knowledge does come from experience.  Of course a pain-endured labor does have its just rewards.  We found all three kinds of trillions, a slug, a toad, and a few other items to photograph.  A pleasant morning photographing nature.

Leave a comment

Filed under bugs, flowers, nature, Photography

Husband, Marsh, and Porta-Potty Challenges

Before heading onto the  boardwalk of Magee Marsh Ron and I made a pit-stop at the gift shop area.  Because hours are spent walking the boardwalk, taking pictures and observing birds I made a trip to the porta-potty while Ron headed to the gift shop.  The difference, this year I was prepared for the porta-potty challenge, at least I thought I was.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan
Copyright 2015

Last year I pulled out a sheet of toilet paper and notice a “shadow” on it, and turning it over discovered a huge black bug on the backside that scared the crap out of me (well, not literally), causing me to throw the toilet paper on the floor.  This year I pulled out a strip of paper and checked it over very carefully.  I was happy to find it bug-free.  I then watched a small spider come down from the ceiling and land on my purse, which I had carefully hung on the sanitizer dispenser.  Of course the dropping of the spider led me to look up, where I spotted a large spider on the ceiling.  Does the Magee Marsh porta-potty dislike me?  Can’t I use it without a bug problem coming up?  Apparently not.  The sacrifices of a photographer who needs to utilize the facilities before heading out to capture some bird shots.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan
Copyright 2015

I exit the porta-potty and enter to gift-shop where my husband, Ron, had gone.  He is standing in the check-out line when he sees me come in the door and immediately says “would you like a T-Shirt?”

He is purchasing a large poster and a T-shirt.  Where does he plan to put the poster?  We have no available wall space left.  His answer “I’ll take something down.”

Great!  I wonder what item gets demoted for the promotion of poster showing the various types of Warblers.  Time will tell, because he’ll have to get it framed first.  Now the T-shirt, whenever I see a new one of those come into the house or in his hands to purchase I just laugh.  Why?  Because the man could probably wear a different T-shirt for the next 90-120 days before having to do laundry.  Granted a few of them may be showing their wear, have paint on them or a few holes, but for the most part they are good, nothing wrong with them T-shirts from various places and festivities.  However, we would not want him to feel deprived of a Bird Week shirt from Magee Marsh, so the purchase was made.

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Magee Marsh is located in Ohio and is a great place for photographers and bird watchers. It is where Warblers gather each spring before flying over Lake Erie on their migration north in the spring.  Unfortunately we were a bit early and there weren’t many birds at the location yet.  It was a nice, warm day on the boardwalk, and if you look around you can usually find things to photograph, such as moss growing on a log, or a turtle sunning himself in the sun.

There are two kinds of people you find at the Marsh this time of year.  The photographers, like Ron and I, with our camera’s and large lenses to capture photographs or the true bird watchers who are carrying bird books, check lists, and binoculars.  Both are friendly groups, so a nice mixture to share space with.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

About half way around the marsh my bad ankle started causing me problems, with pain shooting from the ankle up to the knee.  We were almost at the end when my wonderful husband did his best to take my mind off the sore, swollen and throbbing ankle.  As I was standing with my back to him, sore foot off the ground and one hand holding the boardwalk rail for balance, Ron swung his camera around to take a photograph of a bird up in a tree.  Sounds simple and uneventful, doesn’t it?  Only one glitch, in the process he clobbers me in the back of the head with his 150-500mm lens,  I hear an “oops” and he is off and shooting.  Luckily the head only hurt for a few minutes after I hobbled my way to the end of the boardwalk and sat down on a bench to wait for him to finish.

We get in the car, and as we start to roll down the long exit road from the Marsh I look at him and say “For future reference, hitting me in the back of the head with your camera lens did not draw my attention away from my sore ankle.”

Ron has it duly noted, but makes no guarantees it won’t happen again.  Such is life with a photographer, the shot must come first, but as I am also a photographer I understand the process.

Photographs by Grace Grogan are available for sale on Fine Art America.

Leave a comment

Filed under birds, bugs, nature, Photography

Master Bath Guests

Our Master Bath has special guests that come for a short visit every spring and every fall. They must not like weather change because they arrive when the temperature warms slightly, then again when the temperature turns cold. They must eventually adjust to the change because their stay is generally short, only a week or two, and then they disappear until the next season.

What we can’t figure out is where the flies come from.  They just suddenly appear and generally stay up on the ceiling or near the lights.  An occasional visitor may be seen near the sink or floor, but not often.  They only come in small groups of three to six at a time, and seem to be lacking in energy.    They don’t fly around, normally just sit on the ceiling or wall.  We rarely find a dead one anywhere, they just suddenly disappear one day and don’t return until the following spring or summer.

house flyWhat attracts the flies to our master bath?  They do not appear anywhere else in the house.  What is even more bizarre is we always leave the door to our bedroom and our closet open and the bath is right between them, but the flies are never seen in either of those rooms.  What we have is the bathroom fly mystery.  Where do they come from?  Where to they go?  We may never know.

1 Comment

Filed under bugs, home, insects, Life is a Melting Pot, spring

Blog Bonus – Spiders

Spider tipping hatThis is a Blog Bonus – a posting that is not on my normal schedule, a little something extra.  In my last post  They’re Back I talked about the return of the spiders to my front porch, something I am not thrilled with.  My 3-year old grandson, Corbin and 8-year old grandson, Austin, seem to view the event differently.  Corbin thought they were spiderman, and Austin thought I had a “cute little spider” and they both stood on the porch the other night when the spiders were out and said goodbye to the spiders before leaving.  Guess it is all in perspective.  I would love to say goodbye to the spiders, but on a permanent basis and it would be them leaving, not me.

1 Comment

Filed under backyard, bugs, children, Family, Life is a Melting Pot, nature, spiders, spring