Category Archives: Pest

They’re back!

There is a little creature who has been around for millions of years. They are the bane of every outdoors person. I am talking about ticks!

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The return of warm weather also signals the return of the tick. Ticks are arachnids so they have eight legs just like a spider. They have four stages of development and during each stage they must take a blood meal to complete the stage. They usually use a different host species for each stage.

Once they find a host the female may feed for 8 to 10 days and increase her weight by 100 times. She drops to the ground, lays about 1000 eggs. She then dies.

The eggs hatch in about two weeks and the cycle begins all over again.

There are at least four species of ticks in North Carolina and they may transmit several diseases. Rocky Mountain spotted fever and lime disease are the most common tick-borne diseases but there is also Ehrlichiosis, which is becoming more common in humans.

A new tick from South America has appeared recently in the South East, Ixodes Affinis. It does not host on humans but can increase diseases in animals which could be transmitted to humans.

How to protect you and your animals.

1) Check you and your pets several times a day, especially when you have been outside. One way the females find a host is by climbing to the end of grasses or the edge of the leaves on shrubs and hold out their legs until an animal comes by and their hooked legs latch on to fur or clothing.

2) Use a insect repellant. Be sure to spray your legs, arms, and back of your neck.

3) Immediately wash all your clothes that you wore while outside. Ticks can live for weeks between feedings. If you put your clothes in the hamper the ticks will just crawl around your house until they find a host!

4) Spray your yard and shrubs with an insecticide. Also, the sides of the house up to the bottom of the windows. Ticks lay their eggs in leaves, mulch, or in the cracks of rocks and buildings.

If you do find a tick feeding on you:

Remove it with tweezers grasping it at the head where it attached to the body. If she does not come out easily you can put fingernail polish or antibiotic ointment on its rear end. It will be unable to breathe and will detach in a few minutes. The only safe place to dispose of a tick is by flushing it in the toilet.

If you experience a rash at the site of the bite or flu-like symptoms report to a doctor immediately. Early treatment is important for all tick borne diseases!

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The return of warm weather also means the return of my arch enemies!

The return of warm weather also means the return of my arch enemies!

Chickweed!

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Wild geranium!

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Wild strawberry!

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Wild raspberry!

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English ivy seedlings and ligustrum seedlings!

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Japanese honeysuckle!

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And Bittercress!

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I have so often thought about getting a goat or a sheep and confine them to an area and just let them eat away at these weeds!

The seeds can live for years so even when you do remove them they have the ability to come back years later!

I have pulled and pulled and even resorted to spraying an herbicide. The patches get smaller each year so maybe they will eventually disappear?

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Garden spiders

Several of the yellow and black garden spiders have built webs in the garden. I have always called them ‘yellow and black garden spider’s. They are actually called Black and Yellow Argiope (Argiope autantia). It’s in the orb spider family which build spiral webs about two feet across.

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The one above is near the lamp post and she is very large – at least 6 inches. The picture is out of focus because she is so large I am frightened to get too close to her.  She is in a good location as the lamps are on all night and I am sure she is well fed by the moths and various bugs that are attracted to the light.

I think they are beautiful but all spiders creap me out of me!

The dense zigzag of silk in the middle of the web is known as a stabilimentum and is thought to either stabilize the web or help camouflage the spider who rest on the web. The male supposedly builds a smaller web near the female but I have never seen two near each other.

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This smaller spider is against the chimney over a passionflower. He is only about four inches from top to bottom.

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