Friday, June 08, 2007

Garden (and other wildlife) Update #1

Well, the garden is coming along a little slower than expected. Out of a skizillion bush bean seeds poked into an L-shaped row, only three brave little seedlings are pushing their way up. Where are the others? Just lazy, sleepy seeds or are they afraid of something out there?

The cucumber hills were rebuilt and more seeds poked in. They look something like lineman Roy Neary's first attempt to sculpt Devil's Tower out of shaving cream or mashed potatoes in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." That's OK...they can be ugly, as long as the seeds sprout and commence climbing.

The tomato plants are growing nicely, with strong stems and happy-looking leaves, the herbs are taking off like shoplifters and the zinnia and white marigold seedlings are standing proud at the edge of the garden. My dill seeds failed to sprout, but I found a couple of straggly pots of dill at the hardware store and brought them home to live a life of glory, nourished by the finest crap clods on the east coast.

A traumatic memory from the past paid a visit today. Daughter Junket and I, both stinging insect phobic, were terrorized last summer by not one but TWO giant wasp thingies who got into the house at sunset or a little past. When Junket and I were first menaced by The Wasp (or something) From Hell, the instinct to protect my offspring from giant stinging insects was the only thing that kept me from taking off in a fit of hysterics and running a three-minute mile. I mean, this thing was BIG and scary and creepy and LOUD. With Junket cheering me on from behind, I emptied about half a can of Raid on the looping intruder before it hit the wall with a final crunch. A couple of weeks later, the second incident once again found Junket and I clinging to each other and whimpering piteously while waving the can of Raid around for an hour or so.

So Mr. Pseudonym and I were talking tonight when his eyes drifted toward the patio door. I asked him what he was looking at, and he told me a very big insect had just flown by. I turned around, and there it was, The 2007 Edition Wasp (or something) From Hell. Junket came home from work at around 9:00pm and concurred with Mr. P's guess that we had been visited by a "Sphecius speciosus," or Eastern Cicada Killer wasp.

Reading up about this gentle giant did little to assuage my fears. I mean, this thing is HUGE (if I haven't already mentioned this). The males, one-half the size of the females, have no stinger at all and (much like human males) are only interested in finding females for mating purposes. The females have stingers, but they are not really aggressive toward humans; they just want to sip at some nectar or sap, belch and then go hunting for cicadas. The female Cicada Killer stings the cicada to paralyze it, then grabs it up with her feet and flies back to her underground burrow. The cicada is twice her size, but she's just nuts or something, yelling, "I GOT ONE! I GOT ONE!" while careening back to her burrow in a descending zigzag pattern. Once back underground, she plunks the cicada in a cell, lays an egg on it and seals up the cell. Two days later, the egg hatches out in larval form and eats the cicada! I mean, like, ICK!

I hope doing my homework will help me deal with Cicada Killers, though I doubt this will be the case. So, between the giant wasps flying around and giant spiders hanging out of the trees, Mr. Pseudonym will probably have me clinging to his arm and whining, "Kill it! Kill it! KILL IT!" all summer long. Our Raid bill is going to be steep!


Jo said...

Hey hey hey! You might have giant wasps, but you have plants, growing, thriving amidst crap clods. Ah, life is good.

Junket said...

I don't care how effing gentle they are- kill the bitches!