Friday, May 14, 2004

Creepy Crawlies (Got Bugs?)

Warm weather brings greenery and heat, but it also brings ants, tics, black flies, newts and other smallscale fauna to the forefront of my life. Here's a quick midday compendium of some recent forways into the life of the tiny and slimy.
  • I'm not sure if it's alergies or just her tender baby skin, but Willow's turned out oversensitive to black fly bites; at the moment, though the spot on her temple has finally begun to fade, her belly sports several inch-in-diameter welts, as if a bug or two had gotten caught up in her clothes. The air is thick with these tiny darklings in many of our favorite haunts, from the swingset outside the dining hall to the otherwise-cool woods and stream just over the ridge from here; they even swarmed the hood of the car yesterday when I went out to try to unscrew the rusted bolts on the dead car's battery. Happily, the marks the black flies leave don't seem to be itchy, but boy, are those spots ugly against that precious skin: as a preventative, we've taken to carrying baby-safe bug spray with us at all times, which makes us smell of baby powder and sweet sharp synthetics.

  • At least one of those bites comes from a short post-supper trip down to the campus pond on Tuesday, bathing suited and bare footed, to stand sociably in the marshy sand at water's edge with other young parents while the kids netted newts and frogs and small schools of sunfish nibbled at our toes. 'Twas well worth it, though: Willow seemed absolutely ecstatic to be surrounded by so many kids, all splashing and sandthrowing, and though the water was cold, it was all in all a refreshing evening activity on both physical and spiritual planes. As late as last night's bedtime she was till talking about the newt she caught, purely by accident, when swooping a borrowed net through the muddy water's edge.

  • Closer to our own backyard the meadow grows long behind our house; we've taken tics off dog and cat several times already, and I fear for my long hair. Today I met a as-yet-unfastened tic wandering my shirt cuff before I had even left the house, an oddity on a freshly ironed article -- I can only assume, ominously, that it came from Willow's changing table, which doubles as an ironing board, and remind myself to check her smallparts dilligently as we move forward into summer.

  • Back home the ants go marching through our kitchen at all hours. and scatter desperately from the sink drain when we turn on the water for dishwashing. I've crushed an infinite number under coffee filter boxes and peanut butter jars, until the counters are paisleyed with curious black smears and tiny legs, but with the baby in the house we're reluctant to put out traps or liquid to stop them comprehensively. For now, we fight our rearguard mano a mano battle against the invading army through morning coffeemaking and evening television munchie prep ... but I notice Darcie's already purchased some traps, so stay tuned for further development on this one.

  • After a long hibernation, life has also returned to the attic room at the end of our long third floor hallway. Mr. and Mrs. Bat trill and swoop among the rafters at dusk and beyond; a presumed-dead wasps nest has come up humming, merely dormant; a single yellowjacketed flying thing buzzes around the bare bulb at all hours, a harbinger of stings to come. I've taken to leaving a tennis racquet by the door, just in case.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:34 AM |

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