Saturday, August 2, 2014


I think it's impossible to work outdoors and not interact with bugs - insects, spiders, etc.  This week has been a reminder!

Towards the end of summer, we start seeing praying manti - riding the sheep, climing the fences, perching on the tall grass.  I love these bugs!  When they're living on irrigated pasture or other green vegetation, they're green.  When they're living on dry grass, they're brown!  I suppose they use color to camoflage their hunting.  They're amazing!

We also see lots of dragonflies and damsel flies where we're irrigating.  The dragonflies eat other bugs - including mosquitoes!  I think dragonflies look like fire planes - S-2 planes were based at Columbia airport when I was a kid, and they look just like these critters!

Honey bees are also quite noticable where we live and ranch.  At this time of year, the bees are working blackberries and yellow starthistle - invasive plants that I'd like to eradicate except for the fact that they provide bee pasture in July and August.

But it's not entirely a love fest for me and the bugs!  Flies (of all sorts) are obnoxious!  Yellow jackets are as well!  Last night, I hauled the last of our lambs home to shear.  As I was closing them in a stall in the barn, I was stung on my shearing (right) hand.  This morning, as we were setting up to shear, Sami and I were both stung again.  Yellow jackets, in my opinion, are jerks!

I'm seeing more yellow jackets than normal this summer - probably another consequence of the dry, warm winter we had in 2013-2014.  In 1989, Sami and I took a trip that concluded with trout fishing on Sonora Pass.  We caught lots of fish (I'm old enough to remember when the limit on trout was 10!), but every fish we caught was a challenge to unhook.  As we'd pull fish from the Stanislaus River, 15-20 yellow jackets would swarm the fish.  That summer, 2 horses were killed at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station when yellow jackets stung them as they were crossing the river.

Even though I dislike (extremely) some fo the bugs I encounter in a life lived (mostly) outdoors, I'm still fascinated by many of these critters!  There are so many "worlds" on this planet - the world of insects is pretty amazing!

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