by Curt Kovener
I have written in the past about my aversion to flying, stinging insects. Bees are OK for they serve a pollination purpose. But wasps & hornets only apparent purpose in life in to intimidate & harass and make my anxiety level and blood pressure go up a notch or two.
To a lesser extent you can add deer flies and horse flies to that“Do Not Like” list. Even after spraying on some heavy-duty, sportsman formula bug repellent, the deer flies & horse flies will find that tiny patch of my hide that didn’t get spritzed.
I think the wet spring and now the hot weather have combined to produce a bumper crop of those insects up at the wilderness retreat. Working outside recently found me in close contact every one of those $%^&*!# bugs!
While they buzz about your head, both deer flies and horse flies can land so that you don’t know they are parked on your person. But when their probiscus hits pay dirt, the “shucky-durns” tend to fly along with my flailing arms toward to source of the pain.
Even Charley the semi lazy Labrador gets up from his shady resting spot and heads for the house when he hears those biting flies a-buzzin’.
Paper wasps are nesting now and I guess that makes them especially irritable and protective of their territory. There was one ultra aggressive rascal that chose to challenge my presence at the summer kitchen.
He won that battle as I retreated to the barn, retrieved a can of carburator spray and quickly won the war against him and his dozen or so bretheren. Since to the victor go the spoils, I removed their baseball sized nest from the eave and went to the dock.
Bluegill really like those creme-colored wasp larva. Flick a worm like pupa out onto the water surface and three or four ‘gills race to see who gets the morsel.
Charley is enthrawled with all of the fish splashing activity and occasionally jumps (or falls) in trying to play tag with the fish.
As I finished up my fish feeding, I heard another muffled buzzing coming from the nearby summer kitchen. It was the flailing wings in a hollowed earthen enclosure made by mud daubers. Since we often entertain from the summer kitchen with food and drink, the mud dauber abode also had to go.
This one was fresh as parts of the nest were still dark, moist mud. I knew the nests housed mud dauber eggs and served as a hatchery but was surprised as I took a stick and poked out the little adobe column. Every inch and a half or so representated a separate birthing chamber and each one was crammed with three or four adult spiders. They all appeared to be of the same species and were alive but moving real slowly. Probably stung & injected with mud dauber venom and when sedated flown and buried alive to serve as food for the developing blue-black mud dauber.
I always considered the spider as my friend. It’s his web that catches deer flies and horse flies and paper wasps to serve as the spider’s supper. So now the predator becomes a meal for a new generation of flying masonry contractors. I guess its Mother Nature’s way of leveling the playing field.