Yes, you are right - I have tried very hard to not use chemicals in my garden. I admit to the rare use of a chemical fertilizer or herbicide. But those are rare, not occasional, instances. And I have been rewarded.
Rewarded with butterflies. Rewarded with bees. Rewarded with all sorts of strange and wonderful creatures that I don't think I would have ever seen otherwise.
I am especially excited to see the toads in my garden. I haven't seen toads since I was a child. When we first moved here, we could hear them down past the big pond, singing and talking every night. It was as if they were carrying on several conversations, and each toad would talk louder and louder, trying to talk over the other toads' conversation.
But my neighbor sprays his pasture, and the conversations stop. All goes silent.
Lately, however, we have been hearing the toads talking again. My neighbor has moved, and while he still owns the property, he has not been doing any spraying.
I have been thrilled to see toads coming all the way up to the house! They are such a surprise and a joy to see.
Not every creature is a joy, though. We have been seeing scorpions - in our house! I don't know where they are coming from, as I don't see them out in the garden. But this summer alone, we have killed over 10 scorpions in the house. Thankfully, we have not been stung.
My husband has asked me if I want him to spray for the scorpions. But I think of the toads, and I say "not yet".
But there is one creature I have begun using chemical warfare against.
That creature is the mosquito.
It started with the six inches of rain we received. And ever since then, we have been swarmed with mosquitoes. I have walked around the property, emptying any pan or container that could hold water. I have drilled holes in the fountain we not longer use (it's broken, but I like it anyway). Pet bowls get refreshed regularly. I don't know where these mosquitoes are coming from, but they are relentless.
Since there have been over 4,000 cases of West Nile this year, with 1/3 of those cases from Texas, a mosquito bite has deadly potential. In fact, we have discussed how odd the mosquito bites are this year. They make large whelps on our skin with just one bite, and I have wondered if a little bit of the virus is in every mosquito.
So, every day I go out into my mostly organic garden, and spray myself down with deet.
I try to eat organic vegetables. We eat very little meat. I try very hard to have a very creature-friendly garden, no matter the creature. And yet I spray a chemical on myself every day! It seems a bit bizarre to me. And yet, oddly, I'm thankful that I can spray myself and go outside.
Scorpions may not make me cross the line into chemical warfare. But tiny little mosquitoes do!
What about you? What would you like to eradicate, through any means, from your garden?
Scorpions! I'm happy I know only a band called Scorpions. I have even seen them from far away. They were leaving from the airport after having a concert in the town I live. But scorpions in my garden? I couldn't sleep. You're brave!ReplyDelete
haha - I haven't heard of the band Scorpions, but how fun to have seen a band you enjoy! I don't like seeing the scorpions, either. They seem to want to get away from me, too!Delete
Vine Weevil, which I blogged about recently. Although funny enough our main means of controlling it is biological.ReplyDelete
There is a fine line to tread sometimes, between using organic means or pesticides. But like you as long as you minimise and limit drastic chemical treatments then it shouldn't harm wildlife that much, if at all. Frogs and Toads are friends of the garden :)
Yes, you are right - a fine line to tread. I try to limit chemicals, but sometimes they are necessary. And I am so excited to see these toads in my garden! To me, they are beautiful!Delete
Eradicate from my garden? Whatever dug the new holes I found recently!ReplyDelete
I hope it wasn't an armadillo! They are the worst at digging holes - and hard to get rid of!Delete
Your photos are super. Scorpions are a little scary. We've nothing like that in Ireland. For mosquitoes, have you tried Avon lotion or oil as a mosquito repellent; I've always heard it works well?ReplyDelete
Be happy you don't have scorpions in Irelend! I haven't tried Avon's lotion. I've heard mixed reviews, but it might be something to try! It would be a nice alternative to deet if it works!Delete
Scorpions love our house too! We have a woodland species here (Uroctonus mordax). I've learned to wear slippers in the morning ;) Not particularly venomous, but the sight of one before coffee in the morning makes caffeine a little redundant! I'm glad you're hearing the toads again. Amphibians and fish are very sensitive to the chemicals that gardeners use. We don't use them either, and sometimes the chorus of frogs in winter is deafening! Sorry about the mosquitos though...West Nile has been particularly bad this year.ReplyDelete
I laughed at your caffeine joke! Yes, the sight of a scorpion can really get the adrenaline going! I am so thrilled that the frogs are safe, at least for a while. I'm worried the neighbor will return - or worse, sell!Delete
I hate scorpions! One got in my sons bed and stung him in the middle of the night. I have found several in the house. I stuck my hand in a hole and got stung by one. It hurt like crazy- worse than any sting I've had, but interestingly enough, the pain subsided quicker than a bee sting. Toads returned to my garden this year too! I had not seen them for several years, but this year I had a little one camping out in a little water feature I have. So fun!ReplyDelete
Oh, I think if I (or a child!) got stung, I would have no sympathy for the scorpions! I always wear gloves, but I'll remember not to stick my hand in any holes! Ouch! Glad you're getting toads in your garden. I think they are really a great measure of a wildlife-friendly garden.Delete
There's an African proverb that goes, 'If you think you're too small to make a difference, you haven't spent the night with a mosquito.' So true! Those little suckers are tiny terrors! My five-year-old has an extremely dramatic reaction to mosquito bites - you would think she's dying every time she gets one. I don't know if it's because she's so skinny or what. So we're big sprayers here as well!ReplyDelete
I did a post back when about how we sprayed around the house for the ticks and poisonous spiders, and then found a lot of dead frogs. I was so horrified, that was the end to the spraying! I enjoy seeing all the little frogs and toads around. I don't know what I'd do if I saw a scorpion in the house though. That would freak me out!
Well, after this year and the whelps the mosquitoes are leaving on me, I'm with your five-year-old. I'm becoming quite dramatic when I get a bite, too! :) And as much as I hate the scorpions, I know if we spray, it will devastate the toads here. So, I will just hope that the scorpions decide to leave on their own! I hope that's not just wishful thinking!Delete
I'd like to get rid of the fire ants. The regular anti-ant stuff isn't working (Ambro, etc) and currently I've stooped to using wasp spray.ReplyDelete
Oh, I'm with you on getting rid of the fire ants! If the wasp spray works, I'd love to know. I have more mounds this year than I have ever seen, and it is an ongoing battle to keep them semi-controlled! Ugh!Delete
Have you tried using a Thermocell? No hunter would be without one (that would be the men folks in my family). They are available in all of the Outdoor type retail places as well as Walmart. I simply strap it with the holster to my belt loop and here in Florida nothing comes around me....no skeeters, no gnats or flies. No harm to the environment, wonderful....try it!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for weighing in! I have never tried one, although I have heard of it. I have wondered about it. My question is if it releases toxins into the air. Because then wouldn't we be breathing that in? I once watched a fly die from my no-pest strip (I think they have been taken off the market). I realized during those moments that I was breathing the same air that that fly was. And even though my lungs were much, much bigger, I still wondered what affect it was having on me. If I have the wrong idea about these, I would love for you to let me know. I would love an alternative to spraying deet all over me every day!Delete
Gosh, I haven't done the research....but if you do please fill me in. I have even used it around my horses, when we are doctering, hoof trimming, etc. No issue with them, they are bothered at all. In fact now that I think of it none of the livestock or domestics animals are bothered by it, cause I wear it all of the time. But think of this....sitting in a tree stand in the middle of the woods....and they still aren't bothered by anything....it must do some powerful good stuff~Delete
That's what I wonder about. If it can repel mosquitoes off someone sitting in a tree in the middle of the woods, I just wonder about breathing it in, too. Of course, it may not be any worse than spraying deet on my skin, either, though. Oh, the things we have to worry about now! But it's better than being bit, I suppose! I may try to do some research on it. Thanks for bringing it up. It may be the best solution after all.Delete
FYI - The only thing I could find on it was not to eat or drink when using it, and that it was toxic to fish (most everything is), so be sure it doesn't get near any water, and to keep any food covered when using it. Adequate ventilation (only use it outside) is important, too. All this is probably on the precautions/warnings found on the information sheet anyway. I found this information at: www.mosquitocontroltrap.com/media/wysiwyg/pdf/thermacell-msds.pdfDelete
I think the main ingredient is a form of pyrethrin.
Believe me, I know what you're talking about. Mosquitoes are usually a big problem in Wisconsin during our hot, humid summers. That was one of the only good things about the drought--very few mosquitoes! Sometimes you just have to use the Deet to protect yourself and your family. Also, this Avon product works well for me, especially when I'm not expecting to be outdoors for too long: http://bit.ly/T1EubnReplyDelete
Glad to know you endorse the Avon product. I will certainly give it a try! :)Delete
Scorpions are terrible, I'm afraid of them. Fortunately they do not live in our cold climate. Holly, I love the picture of a toad looking the flower (of tomato, I think).ReplyDelete
That's not tomato flower. Unfortunately, it's a weed flower! If you look closely, you'll see the thorns on the stem. It's a vicious weed, and very common in my garden! :(Delete
Beautiful pictures of your little creatures. We have lots of toads, frogs, hedgehocks, birds, spiders and moles in our garden, but......scorpions, I should be very afraid. I'm glad I have never seen them in reality. I don't like using chemicals in the garden, but when I had scorpions.....I should move (haha).ReplyDelete
Long ago when my garden was open to the public, I sprayed my roses until July. Now I keep my garden mainly for our own, so I stopped using chemicals, and we are satified with the result. Only, the vegetables are always attacked by caterpillars.
I don't spray my roses, either. Like you, my garden is just for me, and I don't mind a little imperfection. In fact, I now find imperfection a bit charming! :)Delete
The mosquito is the biggest pest! We also have a small black fly that comes up now in October/November and they bite the chickens and us if we are not careful. The itch is awful - you want to tear your hair out!! Best remedy is rub the inside of a banana skin on the itch - best ever!!!ReplyDelete
I've never heard of rubbing the inside of a banana skin on a bite! I have several new bites on me - I'm going to give this a try! Thanks!Delete
I think a scorpio might make me think twice about using chemicals. Oh my they are ugly! I use to spray for ants but I have stopped and figure - let the house fall down but at least we and the natural world will be healthy!ReplyDelete
I rarely poison the ants, but they are just about to take over the entire garden this year, so I'm going to have to do something. Since we have fire ants, they are not pleasant at all!Delete
I can't imagine having scorpions in the house, thankfully you don't find them this far north (we do have them in this province, but a few hundred kilometres south). I'm not keen on spiders or moths, so scorpions would send me over the edge! I was interested that you mentioned the strangeness of the mosquito bites this year, we were noticing that here, too. I was wondering if there are some new species arriving in North America? Thankfully it was a hot and dry year and we weren't plagued with them as we usually are. They are the worst!ReplyDelete
I have had several people here mention how big the whelps are when they get bit by the mosquitos this year. I'm glad you mentioned it, too. It really is strange. I could only think that they are all somehow infected with the West Nile virus and each time we get stung, we get a tiny bit of it. I'm secretly hoping that we get an immunity from the virus from the bites we are getting. Wishful thinking, probably.Delete
10 scorpions is a lot! Yikes! I haven't seen any here but we sure had them in Iraq and Kuwait. They are terribly scary to me. Mosquitoes too. We have an overabundance here even in the cold and they've been here all summer. I use repellent as well. Good to protect oneself! If I could eradicate only one thing here it would be voles! I don't think there is a chemical for that though.ReplyDelete
We have a cat that brings us dead voles. I'm thankful for each "gift". :)Delete
Amazing the difference you have when your neighbor sprays isn't it. I too try to keep my garden spray free but I do not have the variety of visitors - busy street corner and no greenbelt (the greenbelt is near some other houses though). Do you have standing water - I mean lots of people do including myself, I like those bt dunks. Oh a bat house, our neighbor has them and I am pleased to say I see the bats once in awhile during the summer months.ReplyDelete
I hadn't thought about the bats! We used to see them regularly, but I remember seeing them lately. I'll have to start looking for them. They would make a big difference! I've often wondered if those bat houses work. It will be worth a try!Delete
I would like to eradicate Florida Betony and Dollar Weed by almost any means except Roundup. I consider Roundup to be particularly vile. What I'm trying this year is a pre-emergent put down in the fall and a thick layer of wetted newspaper topped by leaf mulch. Wish me luck. Have you tried Off! Clip-On? It's a mosquito fan you clip to your clothing. I tried it once and it seemed to help.ReplyDelete
Dollar Weed - yes! It has begun to take over several areas where I don't want it to! Grrr. Good luck. I am just about to throw up my hands and surrender!Delete
We live on the edge of farmland, near a chicken barn....I am sure they spray, and that's what is causing me so much grief all summer....ReplyDelete
So here I live a little pesticide free oasis in a neighborhood of idiots in the country that think they must have a lawn service spray their grass regularly for weeds???? Ummm what about the fields just over there...
But somehow the little tree frogs have managed to survive, the birds still come to us, and I am trying to educate my neighbors. But I hear you about the mosqies...this was the worse year ever apparently, and I still have red marks from this spring still on my legs that won't go away. I swell up, I seem to be a banquet for them, and we have West Nile here now also.
I can't use Deet, I have tried the other organic sprays, they don't work for me, so I hear your pain. My hopes are that by encouraging the bats, and birds we will decimate the mosqie population.
Faint hope, but still.
Well at least we don't see scorpions here.
It's a balance, if you spray, then you lose the wildlife, but it's so worth it not to spray...I hope that you can find a way to keep the scorpions out.
Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams
It would be nice to have neighbors that all thought alike on the spraying thing. I have been so thrilled that that one particular neighbor (none of the rest spray) moved away. It was like magic when the frogs started croaking again. It was obvious because when he did spray, it was almost immediately silent again. I feel for you if you can't use deet. I am going to have to encourage the bats to start hanging around!Delete
I admire your restraint - if I had scorpions in the house I would not hesitate to call in the chemicals. Don't use deet, though, not that I have anything against it. I will very rarely use roundup, but never use an insecticide in the garden.ReplyDelete
I won't use roundup, either, because it does strange things to roses, and I don't want it in my soil. I hate to use the deet, but haven't found a better solution so far. Maybe I'll give the Avon lotion a try. Hopefully that will work.Delete
If you have a pond that is not moving with a waterfall of pump of some kind the mosquitoes will breed there....I use dunks that are not poisonous to birds and other critters in any place where there is a rim around a pot or any spot...and if your neighbors have a pond or standing water it just adds to the problem...I live across the street from a lake and a swamp so we will never rid them totally but it is better when I use dunks. I also use a bug spray but not deet. West Nile and EEE here too...but with the freeze I think they are gone or at least less.ReplyDelete
I can't figure out exactly where these are coming from. I'm sure there's standing water somewhere - I just am not sure where! Our big pond doesn't have a waterfall or pump, but there are fish in it that should eat all the mosquito larvae. Maybe they're not doing their job!Delete