Monday, January 20, 2014

Itchy Bug Thoughts

21.9 degrees this morning on the mountain with a 3 mile per hour breeze and falling snow. Perhaps three inches on the ground since I left yesterday afternoon and a little more on the way today. The bad part of today is that it is the start of a week of frigid temperatures and wind which will have us seeing our breath for nights to come.

January is not the time to think about insects but this article from The Smithsonian seemed worth sharing to me. If you live in this part of New England or farther north, spring brings an assortment of not-so-good-critters and they bite and drive us crazy. When Vermont Flower Farm was located here above Peacham Pond, spring meant mosquitoes and black flies. The flies were often so bad that visitors and customers would get out of the car, get attacked, and turn around and leave all within half a minute. Gail and I were always happy when July arrived because we knew that even though there would be about two weeks of horse flies and the smaller deer flies in early July, insects would be about gone by mid July.

I remember so well the day when we walked the land that we bought on Route 2. The first walk was after a rain and since the land borders the Winooski River and has a lower section that is half surrounded by the river, we expected insects to be a problem. They weren't. We were surprised and happy and thought not-so-positive-thoughts about what might happen come spring. Nothing. The way the land sits, the wind blows almost every day from the west. There's just enough wind to keep insects away so for most of us, there's never a need for bug dope.

The Smithsonian article is excellent and you should probably read it to improve your understanding of who bugs love to eat and how to avoid them. It's a good article. Perhaps the biggest thing to remember--and the article echoes our 30 years of gardening experience, outside spring through fall- is the issue of clothing. Dark clothes, and I don't care what fabric they are made out of, are a bug magnet. I have always told people that dressing in dark clothes makes bugs think you are a big animal like a bear, deer, or  moose. I know I am correct on this. Lighter colored clothes make all the difference in the world! That's why you will always see me from spring through mid July wearing white t-shirts. I agree, they may be t-shirts from Vermont artist Phyllis Chase  but they will be white.

Read the article and make your own decision. My guess is you will agree with the article and me. In the meantime, get a chuckle out of this t-shirt that Phyllis did one year. Yes, life in Vermont is priceless but there are some expenses that come with living here. One is bug spray. I'm not sure about the $1000/year but am sure you'll be buying some.


Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where we are in a big snow squall right now. The snow is falling so fast that the smaller birds at the feeders are waiting for the blue jays to use their beaks to push snow off the feeders. Helping others is a good thing to do, with or without snow!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as George Africa and also as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!

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