Mon 22 Jul 2013
About this time every year, they show up for more than a month at Mitchell cabin where they’re as welcome as a plague of locusts. A plague they are. Locusts they are not. In fact, I don’t have a precise name for them, but I presume they arrive from the fields around the cabin.
When none of my naturalist friends had a name for them, I asked a pest-control company three years ago what to call them. The firm responded that they are some kind of “field roach” but not to worry; they’re not at all like cockroaches. However, no one at the firm had a specific name for them.
While they don’t seem to cause any physical damage to the cabin or its contents, the field roaches are forever making unpleasant appearances.
Their fondness for soap attracts a stream of roaches to the bathroom and kitchen sinks. This fellow is in the bathroom sink. Worse yet, no sooner have I squished one and washed another down the drain than still more will appear. _____________________________________________________________
The yellow and orange stripes of field roaches cause them to vaguely resemble certain ladybugs.
So why am I so quick to squish them or wash them down the drain?
Let’s put it this way. Have you ever had bugs fall into your coffee so often you had to start putting the coaster on top of the mug instead of vice versa? (In just the time it’s taken to write this posting, I squished six of them on my desk and knocked two more off the lip of a can of cherry Coke from which I was sipping.)
You may be thinking: sure, it’s probably annoying for him to have to repeatedly squish bugs on his desk or, for that matter, on the table all through dinner. But in the greater scheme of things, what’s the big deal? ___________________________________________________________
As it happens, a smoke detector is mounted near the peak of Mitchell cabin’s cathedral ceiling roughly 18 feet above the top treads of the staircase to the loft. The device is hard-wired to the house current rather than battery powered, which is good. Changing the batteries would require periodically erecting scaffolding, for there’s no place to stand a ladder below the smoke detector.
Unfortunately, bugs are programmed to climb. Up the walls. Up the ceiling. And — in the case of field roaches — up into the smoke detector. Beeeeep! The alarm is ferocious and continues until the roach moves on, which usually is fairly quick — probably because the vibrations are intense. (That’s happened more than a dozen times while I’ve been writing this.)
On occasion, however, a field roach will crawl inside the smoke detector, set it off, and then stay put. (That’s happened four times tonight.) If the racket keeps up for several minutes, I have to take action. But what to do? I’ve used a vacuum cleaner tube to try sucking the suckers out of the smoke detector, but that didn’t do much except pull off the cover (see above).
More than once I’ve tried using a leaf blower, but that didn’t work very well either. Nor did creating a moat of bug spray on the ceiling around the smoke detector. The spray didn’t hold back the field roaches, and what’s worse, the mist set off the sensor. It took more than an hour for the air inside the smoke detector to clear, forcing me to flip a breaker switch. That stopped the racket but also turned off lights here and there around the cabin.
You see why I consider this annual swarm a plague, but a plague of what? If any of you out there know the precise name of this “field roach,” please post a comment. ______________________________________________________________ Meanwhile outdoors:
By chance at the very moment I snapped a photograph of a mother raccoon and her three kits on the deck Sunday evening, Lynn tossed half a slice of bread to one of the youngsters.
The kit probably later told its siblings: “When I looked up and saw some bread flying in my direction, I briefly wondered why it kept getting bigger and bigger. Then suddenly it struck me…”