You may have noticed that my blogging has been scant recently. I have what I think is a good reason. Regular readers are aware that I am now among the most blessed of Americans—I am retired. Retirement for me is akin to kids being out of school for the summer. Only for me it’s an endless summer.
While I was in the workforce, I kept my property up with low maintenance shrubbery and very few flowers except for those I had on the deck. I have a guy named Ben who comes to cut the grass every week in the spring and summer and scoops up the leaves every week in the fall until the leaves stop falling.
Now that I’m retired, I have the time to beautify my little corner of the world. I got Ben to go to Lowe’s and purchase 12”X4” retainer wall blocks that mimic the color of the brick on my house to build a circular flower bed for some beautiful Autumn Lilac Encore® Azaleas and Emerald Blue and Purple Beauty Creeping Phlox.
I also had him replace the dozen Emerald Gaiety Euonymous shrubs that lined the front of my house with two Emerald Green Arborvatae (one at either end of the house) and dwarf Gold Mop False Cypress and frost-proof gardenias. The euonymous were beginning to succumb to mildew and scale.
I put down pre-emergent fertilizer on my lawn and have sown grass seed in the spots where the damn squirrels have dug holes in search of the acorns they hid last fall. Through all this, I have been afflicted with a major case of “involuntary horror reaction.”
While feeding my Knock Out® roses, I felt something crawling on me. I looked at my arm and saw a neon-green worm traveling up to the sleeve of my T-shirt. EWWW. I flicked it off and continued undeterred from the task at hand. A week later, I was feeding my roses again. I noticed dozens of the green worms all over my pants. EWWW. Trying not to scream and alarm the neighbors, I rushed into the house, shed my pants and threw them outside. I put on another pair of pants, fetched the pants I’d tossed outside the door and tried to shake the little monsters off. When I felt I had been successful, I came inside and immediately threw them in the washer.
Things got worse from there. For the last two weeks, every time I’ve gone to the mailbox, I’ve walked through silky threads that resemble spider webs. They are invisible. Nothing is creepier than silky, webby stuff clinging to your face.
What’s going on you may ask. The little green worms are known as cankerworms. Some call them inchworms. During late November, the cankerworm moth travels up the trunk of trees and lays up to 300 eggs. In March and early April, the eggs hatch as cankerworms. They munch and munch and munch on the tree canopy. When they get their fill, they parachute down on silken threads and get in your hair, in your nose and in your mouth if you’re not careful.
Last Saturday, I was planting impatiens, snapdragons and alyssum in 22-inch bulb pans and saw literally dozens crawling around on them. I smashed ‘em with murderous glee. When I went to water my roses after feeding them an organic fertilizer, I noticed they had starting dining on the leaves. I went to my storage shed and pulled out the Sevin™ dust and began annihilating them.
Needless to say, I am at war with cankerworms. I have spoken with a local arborist and plan to band my trees next fall. Ben has agreed to help me with that project. In the meantime, until the cankerworms finally descend to the ground and disappear, I will be tormented by “involuntary horror reaction.” I haven’t stopped itching since I started typing this story.
Oh, and one more thing about how bugs ruin everything, if you listen carefully, you can hear what sounds like rain. It ain’t rain. That’s the sound of the little nightmares pooping. Their poop looks like poppy seeds and literally covers everything. EWWW.
If bugs just followed the rules like everyone else, they really wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s their egregious disregard for boundaries that makes them so despicable.