PESTIFEROUS

From: Meridian, ID:

(An Elm Seed Beetle.)

(An Elm Seed Beetle.)

Does the world really need so many different species of bugs? Not if you ask me, for sure. I’ve been made more aware of the plethora we have, recently, as I’ve been trying to find information on a specific little #$%@#$ we’ve had around the place this year. Well…not just the one; he is accompanied by a million or so of his brothers and sisters. We were told that they are either Elm Seed Beetles or, possibly, Elm Leaf Beetles. Turns out there is also one called the Elm Bark Beetle. Sheesh! Who needs so many beetles devoted to the elm tree?

We have since definitely identified our brand of this pest as the “seed” variety. The good news is that they are not particularly harmful…they’re not poisonous; they don’t bite or sting; they don’t flit about and get in one’s eyes, nose, or ears; they don’t seem to harm our flowers. I don’t know what they eat, but haven’t found any of them in our own food stores. If there were only one or two of them crawling about outside occasionally, we probably would mind them very little. But that is not the case…they manage to make their presence known everywhere! Outside, inside, on the patio, on the screen door, on the table, on our clothes!

(The Elm Leaf Beetle.)

(The Elm Leaf Beetle.)

Our local garden store – a family business in these parts for decades – has told us they have no product that will kill them. We subsequently learned that other stores do. I think the reason the first outfit doesn’t is that they haven’t found a product formulated for complete safety regarding pets, kids, or plant life, and that sort of product is its specialty. The stuff we bought from another store — D&B Supply — is called Tempo. Quite spendy in the concentrate, but very potent, also, so the $40 bottle should last well into next spring and summer. I’m happy to report that it is very effective. The bugs don’t fall dead instantly, as I would prefer. (Don’t you just love those wasp/hornet spray killers? One drop, and those bastards drop like…well…like flies!) Nevertheless, the Tempo kills the beetles pretty quick…and continues to kill latecomers to the party for some period of time. (Don’t know how long it lasts, yet.) Our patio is littered with their corpses. This morning I noticed a couple of robins hopping around the patio, evidently picking up the dead bugs. I can’t say for sure that they were eating the beetles, but I can say that I’ve never seen robins so interested in the patio.

(The Elm Bark Beetle.)

(The Elm Bark Beetle.)

It’s a bit strange, too, how the various bug infestations come separately through the years. Since living here in southwestern Idaho, we’ve had bad years for yellowjackets, earwigs, wasps, spiders, and now Elm Seed Beetles. Thankfully, we’ve never had a problem with mosquitoes, despite the fact that some areas of the valley are thick with them. To my knowledge, neither Janet, nor I, nor any guest has ever been mosquito-stung even once in our backyard. I’ve never even seen one in our yard! Of course having said that, I think I may be able to predict what next summer’s infestation will be, eh?

***

One day last week, I did something different: I went fishing at Arrowrock Reservoir. I didn’t take the boat up, just plunked from the bank at Geezer Beach. I mention it only because it was, unbelievably, only the first time I’ve fished in Idaho this year! The first time anywhere this year, except for the trip to Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State in February. It was a nice day, although a bit too warm to qualify as perfect, and it was nice to get out. I wish I could add that I caught a mess of nice trout, but that would be “stretching” the truth beyond even the limits of fishermen. I caught none! My line moved ever so slightly a couple of times, an indication that something may have been nosing around, but there was only one time when I thought the movement was a serious bite. And even that may have been only a fishment of my imagination.

I was the only one at Geezer Beach, although there were a few boats on the lake. All were too far away for me to ascertain whether or not they were bringing in any fish. I suppose all were trolling for Kokanee…at least that’s what I would have been doing if I had been out there with my boat. We will be having one of our grandsons – Evan, from California – visiting next week, and I hope there will be an opportunity to take him out in the boat. His brother, Alec, spent time with us last summer and the two of us did pretty well trolling in Horsethief Lake, about 80 miles north of here. Ah, well…whether or not we get out in the boat, I’m sure it will be a busy and fun week. The all-time, worldwide, standard complaint of grandparents is: “We don’t get enough time with our grandchildren!”

***

Janet and I just returned from a store that has the potential to keep us pretty much broke the rest of our lives. But let me back up for a moment. As part of the patio remodeling job, Jan very much wanted a potting bench installed somewhere under the new cover. I did some surfing, and printed out a couple of recipes…er…I guess I mean “plans” for building one. Both were quite fancy, and would have taken some $$$ for materials, plus quite a few hours of work for me. Both would have been all right, actually, but sometimes having something that will “do the job” right now trumps something really, really nice that we would have to wait for. And this was, I’ve learned, one of those times.

So Jan never stopped looking for something that would “do the job.” We checked out a few garage sales, looked at our garden store, looked at “old reliable,” a.k.a., The Home Depot…but nothing tickled both her fancy and her pocketbook. Then she read about a store called, “ReStore,” affiliated with “Habitat for Humanity.” She learned there were two of them in town, neither of which was located very far away.

(The basic potting bench we found. It will be a "work in progress" for some time.)

(The basic potting bench we found. It will be a “work in progress” for some time.)

We saddled up in the pickup and hit the road. Well, I can tell you that the ReStore is Disneyland for do-it-yourselfers. Construction companies, builders, and (I suppose) private parties donate stuff, which the store then sells at discount in order to make money for the Habitat for Humanity organization. Much of the stuff has been used…things that were removed in a remodel job, for example. Some of it, however, is new…surplus material from either a remodel or new construction.

We found a homemade bench (which may have, in fact, been used for a potting bench) and a section of used kitchen counter top that could be placed over the rough finish of the tabletop. The entire lashup will need some work…painting at the very least, but Janet thinks it is perfect. And if Janet likes it, believe me when I say that I LOVE IT! And I love that it only set us back $25.00! I will admit, however, that I’m somewhat concerned that in days to come Janet could be spending too much time in the store. It was difficult for me to drag her out of there even after we found what we had been looking for. But the potting bench issue has been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction…and that’s something.

***

(A Black-Tailed Prairie Dog, one of 5 primary species.)

(A Black-Tailed Prairie Dog, one of 5 primary species.)

What with our local whistlepigs (ground squirrels) slipping underground for the remainder of the year and winter, I’ve been reading about prairie dog hunting in the Great Plains. I’ve learned that outfitters in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and other states have branched out from “traditional” hunting for deer, elk, moose, bear, etc., and now offer guided prairie dog hunts, as well. The term, “hunting,” is probably not the most appropriate. The guides know where the prairie dog “towns” are located, and the paying customer is simply driven to the spot(s), placed at a portable shooting bench, and begins shooting. Sometimes several hundred shots in a day. Furthermore, these larger members of the broader ground squirrel family normally come above ground for a greater part of the year than whistlepigs…even in to October in some places, I’ve read.

Yes, you might say that my interest has been piqued. The downside? (You know there is always that.) While my .17 HMR rifle seems (to me) to be absolutely perfect for whistlepigs, it probably is not for their larger cousins. For one thing, the cousins are often shot at ranges out to 300 yards and beyond. The .17 bullets will, of course, travel that far…but accuracy suffers a lot. For another thing, the small .17 bullet can be greatly affected by wind…and the prairies are noted for that. In other words, I need a different firearm if I plan to go out for prairie dogs. I’ve started to do some reading about so called “varmint” rifles. There are a number of them, and a number of different calibers, each of which appears to have its own champions. The .204 Ruger; the .223; the .243 Remington; the .22 Hornet; the .25-06, and more. Many more. The good news is that with the remainder of the summer being pretty well booked up for me, I won’t need anything until next spring. (If, indeed, I finally decide I need one at all.) Plenty of time to do more reading and thinking about the issue. But I would certainly welcome any advice you might have on the subject.

I hope each of you is having a great day. TGIF tomorrow…and then the weekend. I hope you have a great one.

Bud

4 Responses

  1. Jerry Howard says:

    I have my 22/250 all sighted in and ready to go. If I were to buy another varmint gun I would buy a 223. They are fast and flat. Ammo should be easier to find than a 25-06 for example. Of course if would be a good idea to check and see what ammo is available in the local stores. I think Prairie Dogs are more evil than whistle pigs. Lets go get some!

    • Bud Larson says:

      Hey Jer, Way to go on the fishing trip. Salmon in the freezer! Hoo-ah!
      Yah, I’ve been kind of leaning towards the .223, but also thinking hard about the .204 Ruger. I’ve looked at a few of the online stores to check pricing. Of course there is quite a range, but in many instances the ammo doesn’t seem to cost all that much more than some of the “hot” rim fires. And one article said that, at least partly because of Hornady’s proprietary powder in the cartridge, the .204 32 gr V-Max significantly reduces the problem of barrel heat. And recoil? I know your 22-250 kicks hard enough so that you can’t see the bullet strike a whistle pig (or prairie dog). How about the .223 Remington? I’ve read the .204 Ruger has a very mild recoil, so that would be another positive when it comes to varmint shooting.
      As I mentioned in the Blather, I’m not thinking of getting out to the dog towns this year, but I am definitely stoked about next year. We gotta talk more and get dates marked on the calendar! Later, Ol’ Bud

  2. Gael says:

    We get infested every fall with those nasty beetles. They poop all over our windows and try to hibernate in cracks and any opening they can crawl into. A couple of years ago I made it my personal mission to find a safe killer for these pests. Dawn dish soap is the answer, mixed with say one fourth cup per gallon of water. You spray that on them and the little buggers die in seconds. Using this mixture I believe I’ve killed hundreds of thousands of them.

    • Bud Larson says:

      Hi Gael, Well, how interesting is that. The Dawn soap, I mean. And if we use that method, I don’t have to feel so guilty about possibly doing damage to the robins when the eat the corpses. Oh, it might give the runs, I suppose, but what the heck…they always have the runs, anyhow. Thanks for the tip! Ol’ Bud

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