Thoughts

Today, our cats became CATS

Today, our cats became CATS. They’ve been catching mice all afternoon. Each of them caught at least 4 or 5 mice, after we broke up a mice colony in our garden (aka an old hay pile). Finally…

I kept watching them all summer, unsure of how to react to mice. I even brought them mice, which they ate, but I wasn’t sure they’d figure out they need to catch the little critters for themselves. Now I know they can be real cats. Thank goodness!

The best part of all — or as my wife would put it, the worst part of all — is they’ve been presenting their kills to us by leaving them on our front door. I think that’s awfully sweet of them. I’ve been praising them and kicking the mice away nonetheless. I hope they get the message.

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Thoughts

Beware the creepy crawlies

It definitely pays to watch out for bed bugs, because a rare bite or two may turn into hundreds of bites per night, after the filthy little critters begin to multiply. The National Geographic put together a video that shows how bed bugs crawl out of the walls to bite people right before dawn, when they’re in their deepest sleep period of the night.

And here’s a video that shows what a serious infestation of bed bugs looks like. It’s the stuff of horror movies, and one definitely wouldn’t want to live in such a place, ever. Yet those poor old folks are stuck there, getting bitten by the bugs every day and every night.

So, it looks like the thing to do you see the first bed bug is to go all out. Get the strongest pesticide you can get, apply it to all the crevices where the critters could be, squash all the ones you can see, and hope you’ve staved off an invasion. Get all the help you can get, don’t give them an inch.

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Places

The mole cricket

Q: What insect from the Gryllotalpidae family burrows around people’s gardens and eats the roots of freshly planted vegetables?
A: The mole cricket.

mole-cricket

This nasty critter, which grows to 2 inches or more in length (I’ve seen some that were over 3 inches), has strong forelimbs that it uses to dig around in gardens here in Europe. They’re supposed to be omnivores, and they feed on whatever they find. In the spring, they feed quite a bit on the roots of the planted seedlings of tomatoes, peppers, spinach, cabbage and other common garden vegetables and fruits, which means the seedlings die.  They wither and dry out, unable to extract food from the ground since their roots are gone. This also means that your crop, which you, as a gardener, took great care to plant and nourish, is wiped out by some filthy creepy-crawly thing that gives nothing in return and only gets fatter and uglier with each seedling root it shoves in its ravenous mouth.

It is for this very reason that these ugly critters are considered garden pests, and people do what they can to get rid of them. Some put out pesticides, but then you’ve got poisons on your vegetables, and that’s not healthy. Others, like my grandfather, used to go out at night with a flashlight and squash them when they reared their heads from their burrows. Thankfully, they have plenty of natural predators, though you wouldn’t want most of those guys around your garden either — I’m talking about rats, skunks, foxes, armadillos and raccoons. Birds are another of their predators, and they’re definitely welcome in my garden.

My wife caught a mole cricket recently (they’re called “coropisnite” in Romania), and I recorded a short video clip. Sorry the focus isn’t that great — my Nokia N95 doesn’t focus very well in video mode at close distances.

http://vimeo.com/4445113

Updated 7/6/09:

Images used are public domain. Source: Wikipedia.

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