Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Signs of spring we don't need

One of the stranger (to me) features of my town is the comparative absence of mosquitoes and black flies. This is partly a function of lack of open space, but also related to the tendency of all the insect life to congregate around the bait buckets. At any rate, it has always been an oddity for someone raised in a place where to breathe was to be attacked by the small savage beasties.

Over the last week, I've taken two hikes in parts of Essex County not so blessed. As long as one moved, it wasn't so bad. Standing still, however, was like slitting a vein in a piranha pond.

This comes atop what gleeful weather people like to remind us is the worst spring for pollen in 20 years. Oh...(sniffle) are you (snork)...sure about that?

My spouse, who is gung ho for native species, spends most springs waging war on the Norway maples, which are highly invasive. Fans of the tree go into ecstasies over the shower of yellow buds that descend from them each spring. This year, what with the rain and the wind, the flowers were early, plentiful, and showed their favourite habit of instantly composting on any surface they contact, including cars.

Eastern New England has played host to the winter moth for several years now. In one of those moments when nature does play fair, it appears that the moth larvae are especially fond of Norway maples. Since they feed on buds, then leaves, it must follow that a tree that buds and flowers so profusely is going to attract them in droves.

The winter moth larvae are either very sloppy eaters, or possess extremely busy excretory systems. I'm not sure which and I'm not sure I want to know. But a sure sign of spring, if you have trees tasty to the larvae, is a steady rain of larva drool or larva poop. In sufficient quantity, this will pit the finish on your car, and even (not making this up) ruin the gelcoat finish on boats or other fibreglass objects.

I applaud the moths for being fond of invasive tree species. However, I'd prefer it if they'd complete their murderous work and depart. Moth manure is high maintenance.


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