Creepy Crawlies

We’ve just had five weeks of almost non-stop visitors.  We love them all and we were delighted that they wanted to visit us and we didn’t want to put anyone off, so we kept quiet.   Now we can come clean…

We’ve had a HUGE wasp problem in our pool.  It seems to be the watering-hole for every single wasp in Céreste.  In the days before the BFF and Granny arrived, there were hundreds of them at the waters edge, drinking busily.  In the days after the BFF and Granny arrived, there was a population explosion.  No joking, but there must have been THOUSANDS of wasps at the edge of the pool.

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Mind you, they are very polite and very French, these wasps.  They are slimmer and much more reserved than Irish wasps.  Whereas the average Irish wasp is a loud, in-your-face pain in the ass, these guys are very polite and keep to themselves, even getting out of the way as we entered or left the pool.

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But the problem was, the Belle Soeur and offspring were due to visit.  Her wasp phobia is the stuff of legend – I’m sure they sing songs about it in Ardmore, where she lives.

War was declared.  This involved the LSH and I getting up at 5am for several mornings to spray the wasps nests under the roof tiles.  Now, not only is the LSH quite averse to going up on roofs, he actually has a wasp phobia to rival his sister’s.  The only way he was prepared to face the wasps was if he was covered from head to toe as he sprayed their many residences under our roof tiles.

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And he had his half-chaps (like gaiters, dear non-horsey readers) on, too.  Just in case the wasps flew up his trouser leg.

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But the wasps remained asleep while he sprayed – slaughtered in their beds, I suppose.  The BFF and Granny gaily joined in the massacre by day.  Ailing wasps were flying from our roof down to the pool and getting stuck in the water.  The BFF and Granny spent many happy hours ushering the dying wasps into the pools filtration system (we called them the guepe-stapo – French pun!) and the LSH spent many less happy hours emptying the filters.

The next batch of guests started to arrive and the wasp problem was as bad as ever.  We may have killed off all the wasps that live in our roof, but there wasn’t much we could do about all those who live in our neighbours’ roofs.  Then we discovered a different waspicide.  This one gets sprayed around the edge of the pool.  It turned out to be lethal.  After the first dose, there were at least five hundred dead wasps floating around the pool within an hour.  After three days, we were down to tens of wasps at the water’s edge., not hundreds or thousands.  Result!

When the Belle Soeur arrived, it turned out that her wasp phobia isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say, it’s probably not as bad as the LSH’s wasp phobia.  So Kudos to him for going up on the roof and facing his worst nightmare, just for his big sister.

But there have been other creepy crawlies.  Walking home from Céreste one night, something large zoomed out of the darkness and landed on the LSH’s head with a ‘thunk.’  He panicked (it could have been a night-flying wasp, you see) and flicked it off.  It flew through the air… and landed on Granny’s chest.

“Um, something just landed one me,” she said bravely.

Well, the LSH wasn’t going to retrieve anything from his mother-in-law’s boob, so I was called upon to find and remove it…

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…just your average scarab beetle.

Moving on…

There have indeed been other creepy crawlies.  More creepy than crawly.

There was this guy, who Cookie found in the garden.  He was more dead than alive, by the time the LSH realised that Cookie’s barking was more hysterical than usual and went to investigate.

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I’m pretty sure this chap was harmless, but there was another one…

Just before the BFF and Granny arrived, we were tidying up the second spare bedroom.  The LSH decided to open the patio door to let some air in and, in doing so, he partially crushed this little guy – you can see his tail is a little shorter than it was meant to be.

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I’m not so sure this guy was harmless but, then again, I come from a country where we don’t have any snakes, so what would I know.

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We took him out to the middle of a big field and let him take his chances with the Snake Eagles.

And that’s it for the moment.  I’m told July and August are scorpion season.  We’ll wait and see what that brings.

 

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10 thoughts on “Creepy Crawlies

  1. At least if you have snakes, you may not have rodents! I found a corn snake skin in my cellar one year. I think it was keeping the mouse population at bay.
    Scorpions! Ugh–those I could live without…good luck.

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  2. Well, never a dull moment in your house is it. I have to admit the snakes would freak me out. For that reason I have often thought Ireland would be the perfect country for me. If only St. Patrick had worked his magic on the rest of the world. 🙂

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  3. We didn’t kill either snake – the first one was very poorly after Cookie’s ministrations and probably died some time later. We had brought it to our neighbour to try to identify (probably non-venomous he thought) and he kept it to show his grand children. The second one we flung out of the bucket into a large meadow across the road.
    Honestly, I don’t mind snakes so much. It’s just the fact that I wasn’t raised with snakes around so I’m not sure how they react.
    As for the wasps… these ones seem to love the honeydew coming out of my trumpet vines. That and some of the crumbs on the table. They seem to be more scavengers than predators, as are the typical Irish wasps (annoying things that keep flying into your can of soda while you’re trying to drink it). They can stay the **** out of our pool!
    Oh and we have hornets here, too. Again not something we’d find in Ireland. Scary feckers. I’ve seen smaller birds.

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  4. I am not up on my French (European) herps (snakes) but the first one may be an adder. They are mildly venomous, if I remember correctly, but take an awful lot of antagonizing to get them to bite. The second one looks non-venomous.

    Please don’t kill them. While we humans have an innate fear of them, they are incredibly useful creatures. I bet you cannot tell me the last time you heard or read of a European dying of snake bite. We have at least five different families of snakes in the US that are venomous, and in that family, especially, the rattlesnakes have a fearful reputation-but the number of people bitten and dying from snakebite in the US are very, very small. You have to be like one absolutely stupid guy who recently died of snake bite-from a rattlesnake he was DANCING with, as part of his religious cult. Now me, I like snakes, but I don’t touch them or for heaven’s sakes, think of them as dance partner. When I see them I encourage them to continue eating the mice and rats in the neighborhood, and because I leave them alone, I don’t HAVE a mouse/rat infestation.
    By the way, we have a two foot long water snake living in our backyard pond. She’s lovely.

    On the other hand, we have these evil little wasps called “yellowjackets”. They are far more dangerous than any snake in the country. They dig holes in the ground and you don’t know you’ve found one of their nests (by mowing over it, or stepping in it) until you are attacked by a storm of stinging wasps. My dear grey Arab, Jordan, was stung so badly (and in some delicate places, like his sheath) by a nest of yellowjackets that I almost lost him, just from the shock of the venom. Because, unlike bees that die after stinging once, wasps can-and will-sting like a repeating machine gun. And they get madder the more they sting, and they will chase you for a very long way.

    Just when you think you are on safe ground, though, they have bigger cousins named “hornets” that are yellowjackets on steroids. They build (lovely) paper nests in the trees and shrubs, and will chase you if you came near the nest. A co-worker of mine blundered face first into a hornet nest and within a second or two, was stung 11 times in the face. Only the fact that we had EpiPens in our first aid kit, and we got him to a hospital quickly did he survive. His face and trachea swelled up so badly that he almost asphyxiated.

    Given my druthers, I’ll take snakes any day of the week.

    And yet-and yet, as is always the case in biology, wasps are very important predators. They prefer spiders, but will take any insect/caterpillar/etc they can.

    I let most wasps alone, but if I find a yellowjacket nest in my backyard, I’m merciless. I have five acres they can play and nest in, but they aren’t allowed in my garden/backyard.

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    • Yup, May is a lovely month here. No horrific horse-eating flies, snakes are (mostly) still hibernating and the big insects haven’t hatched out yet.
      I think you’d actually be ok with the beetles. Last year my daughter’s boyfriend found a coupld of rhinoceros beetles in the garden. Very cute.

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