When you think that everything is going well, you get surprised.
In this case, oriental bittersweet popping up in the woodland garden area behind my house. When we moved in, this area was so overgrown with it that the realtors never realized that the woods behind the house were part of a wildlife sanctuary. Only weeks after, as I took to clearing the yard, did the sanctuary signs appear. The following spring, I spent months clearing as many roots and vines as possible. But it still shows up periodically.

Failure to go out and get it rooted out will result in what happened to a neighbor a few years ago. He failed to pull a few errant sprouts because he liked the “pretty vine” in the fall. This conceit proved asinine when two years later, there was more than a surfeit of bittersweet covering the back of his lot. He was flummoxed when chemical controls seemed to be shrugged off by the vines and dismayed when I showed him my yard and suggested that hand pulling was more effective…for several years to get it under control. He left the problem for the next person who brought the property.

So for numerous years, I’ve rarely found any bittersweet shoots. The ones I’ve seen are probably from seeds dropped in bird feces and brought in from my neighbors’ property by chipmunks. In a way, it speaks to the success of my work in the area. A few hours of weeding will set things right, and I can relax, watch the waterfall and enjoy the flowers.

No word from the “happiness” engineers on my issues yet by switching to Firefox as a browser I was able to add a featured image, but I can’t do pingbacks, categories. I had to rebuild tags one by one. WP is too damn big for its own good, and has no clue what it’s own programs are doing.

Boatyard Pests

To the uninitiated, my title of boatyard pests might seem to refer to the two-legged variety that makes life hard for folks just interested in getting on with prepping their boat for the water. But no, it refers to insects.

Honestly, I’ve spent most of my life not thinking about Greenhead flies. But working one summer in a boatyard here in Massachusetts put me wise to the facts: they won’t go away on their own. For those not from coastal areas infested with Greenheads, I can personally assure you that No-see-umms, Blackflies, and Mosquitos are benevolent neighbors to have. As you drive along the coastal roads, you might notice the big black wooden boxes on poles in the marshes. Those boxes trap and control the population; greenheads are not too susceptible to chemical controls. They seem to laugh them off and get back to the serious business of bitting you.

The female Greenhead has a mouth designed to take a divot out of your leg and suck the blood with pleasure. The fly will shrug off a hit, swat, and slam. As my co-worker, David informed me: ” you can’t be too nice to them; try to brush them off, and they just get mad.” He then showed me the certified effective manner of disposing of one as it lands on you. You grab it, roll it between your fingers, crush it and drop it, leaving the corpse as an example to its siblings. You may be queasy about the crushing part, but I assure you that these large horse flies are hard to kill, and after you have several nasty and painful divots cut into arms and legs, the desire to be benevolently human to your fellow-creature fades.

I had wondered for a while why a boatyard would stock an entire case of spray-on oven cleaner – name brand at that. David informed me that it was ” the best way of loosening up old crudded on varnish.” Applied liberally, then left for several hours and then rinsed off, it does make old varnish easier to scrape off. But there is a second use for it. It’s an effective means of terminating the odd yellow jacket colony hidden beneath the seat of a boat you need to clean up. Not much hurts, like getting stung a dozen times by yellow jackets out for a junket and feeling mean. Spray that nest down with oven cleaner, run like hell and watch the fun. Reapply as needed.

There’s a lot to be said about getting along with other creatures. But greenheads and yellow jackets are the psychopaths of the insect world. Go figure!

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