Well the blackberries aren't quite ready yet. Everyone is telling me July, but we are planning on going berry picking Sunday morning. So we'll see, in the mean time we have been invaded. I am not a bug person, can't really stand them. Even looking at those close up pictures gives me crawly skin. So I was pretty grossed out when I was hanging clothes on the line outside and noticed swarms of bugs on one of our big pine trees. My first thought was Oh no I bet it's that bad beetle that kills trees. Which is the Emerald Ash Borer. Now this is a very big pine tree, and my worry is it starts dying and if we get a bad storm, or a bad winter this tree is going to land on my house. Pine trees are very bad for falling around here.
Then my husband, Christian tells me that the tree I wouldn't let him cut down in the dog lot is infested. I wouldn't let him cut it down so the dogs would have a nice shade tree. It has really big pretty leaves and does provide a lot of shade for them. He asks me did I notice all the little black specks on the ground, and I said yeah I was wondering what that was. It turns out it's bug poop. At first I don't see anything, and then there they are, big ole long looking worm thingys. Bunches of them too. I just can't believe it, no matter what door I go out of from my house tons of bugs! We lived in this house last summer and didn't have this problem.
No last summer we had an even worse problem, RATS! Now I don't mean your typical house mouse either. I'm talking big nasty rats. One of them took up residents in my kitchen, and at night if you saw it looked like a fuzzy shoe running across my floor. We did try to get rid of it with a live trap, it was smarter than the trap. So one night Christian and his buddy manage to trap it under the refrigerator. They killed it with Dj's ornamental samuri sword. I am a very passive person, I don't kill anything. I pick spiders up with paper and cup and put them outside. But these darn things were taking over my house. You could here them in the walls at night.
My daughter Crystal has snakes, the rats we did manage to get alive we tried to feed to the snakes. Circle of life and all, poor snakes were scared of the rats. They were so bad you could see them in the yard in the evening. Christian would sit on the porch with a little 22 rifle and throw Oreo cookies into the yard, when the rats would run out to get them he would shoot at them. Crystal would tease him and say that we were so country we didn't need cable tv, we just sit on the porch and shoot rats for entertainment. Finally I had had enough, we went to the tractor supply store and bought poison, lots of it. We put that stuff anywhere the dogs couldn't get to it, inside and out. That took care of the rat problem, they haven't been back since.
So this year it's bugs. We had no idea what they were. On the pine tree were swarms of little black bugs with yellow stripes, on the other tree were tons of worms or caterpillars. So I went outside and took pictures, and hopped on the Internet. I spent four or five hours looking at bugs today, eeewwww. I did learn alot about bugs today, more than I care to. My tree in the dog lot has The Catapa Sphinx caterpillars. It's a moth, and even though they will probably strip the tree of it's foliage it should live. I have seen some very pretty moths since moving here. So since they aren't to harmful and don't want to come in the house, we'll just let them be.
The bugs on the pine tree were harder to find. I got lucky while searching through a web site called What's My Bug. There they were Barklice also known as Tree Cattle. To my suprise I found out they are a good thing for my tree. They feed on fungi, algae, dead plant tissues and other debris. They are actually cleaning the bark on my tree. I just thought that was so cool. My tree has it's own groomer. I feel better now about going out to hang my laundry. I am also glad I decided to learn about what was going on in my yard rather than getting out the bug spray. Living in the country really brings you back to nature. Sometimes nature is awe inspiring and beautiful. Sometimes it's cruel and ugly. It's perfectly balanced.