Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So much for being outdoors.

This was the headline on the front of the newspaper yesterday. (Yes, it's still coming but that's ending soon.) You don't have to tell anyone there are a lot of mosquitoes. All you have to do is go outside. They swarm. And it doesn't seem to matter what time of day it is, they are just everywhere.

So, I walked around the house yesterday looking for standing water. I have a pseudo birdbath on the deck. This spring, the birds were using the top of a garbage can as a bird bath. I thought that was a neat idea so I moved it to the deck, lifted it off the deck a bit so it wouldn't rot or mold under it and filled it with water. I haven't had to refill it as we have had ample rain, 16.3 inches which is double our usual rainfall.

Birds haven't used it much. A female cardinal stood beside it and chirped noisily but never got into it. Last Saturday, however, I heard a lot of splashing and saw a robin in the water. That was heartening. That means others could be enticed to use it.

The problem is that it's also attractive to mosquitoes. When I tipped it over, I noticed a lot of mosquito larvae in the water. I'm tempted to clean out the lid and refill it because I like providing water for the birds. I have not seen the detritus of raccoons in the water this year nor have they appeared to be on the deck. That means the water would stay cleaner. And all the rain is much better than tap water. But I don't like providing mosquito breeding grounds.

There was a saucer from the bottom of a pot with standing water. I tipped that over and there were millions of ants living under it. AHA! They were of the same size as the ones I have battled all summer. The thing with ants is, if you disturb their nest, they will move. I have no idea where they went, but they aren't in that location.

The other thing that has to be done is clean out my gutters. I haven't done that in 3 or 4 years and I know that's got standing water. The last time it was done, Matt and Niles came over and I paid them to help. They were college students and were grateful for the cash. As I don't have the cash, it's going to come down to me, summoning all my nerve and climbing the ladder to clear them. That's most definitely an October job, when the bugs are minimal and the leaves have fallen off the tree to the NW of the house.

But I'm debating what to do about the bird bath. I remember, eons ago, reading that a few drops of cooking oil on the top of water would keep out the mosquitoes. But that can't be good for the birds. Everything I could find simply says tip the bird bath over once a week and replace the water. I'll do that this weekend and see if I have lost any attention by not having it out and available. It takes a few months for birds to get over their normal shyness and try something. They need to know that the cat faces they might see in the window or even my face, for that matter, won't attack them.

It's about providing habitat. I noticed a woodpecker on the dead tree in the back yard. This is good.

Beverage: Chocolate Hazelnut tea


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