We just passed Memorial Day and enjoyed some degree of relaxed restrictions from the pandemic. But we need to remember that summer brings some hazards as well as fun times.
As summer progresses and our outdoor activities increase, the populations of insects and other nasty critters increases also. These little critters can take all the enjoyment out of outdoor activities unless we prepare for them. Some repellent works pretty well on mosquitoes, but these little nuisances seem to just lick some kinds of it off and look for more.
I haven’t tried my Thermocell (insect repellent) unit to see if it deters them in the summer as well as the fall hunting season, but I will. The repellent with DEET repels best if you’re not allergic to it.
One aggravation and item of considerable concern during this season is the presence of ticks in the woods and grassy areas. These are a special concern since the may carry dangerous diseases.
I was out placing some trail cameras a while back and came out of the woods providing transportation for some these pesky critters. I despise the buggers. After finding the first one, I get the “creepy crawlies” and imagine many more that probably aren’t even there.
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Spraying down with a good repellent certainly helps, but it doesn’t seem to totally eliminate them. My activity upon returning from the woods is a tick examination and a shower. I do this for two reasons — ticks and poison ivy.
Ticks are actually not insects; they are members of the spider family. Many of them carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Lyme disease is among the most important hazards. Ticks don’t start out with Lyme disease — they get it from other animals such as mice when feeding upon them. The longer a tick is on you, the more apt it is to transmit the disease, making it important to wash and remove them soon.
Mosquitoes are near the top of the list of aggravations for summer activities. Zika virus and West Nile virus are among the hazards of being bitten by mosquitoes. Good repellents are the best protection from these critters when away from home and in the woods or around the lakes, etc. At home, you can control the reproduction of them by eliminating standing water that sometimes occurs in odd places. An old tire or a puddle that doesn’t drain will provide breeding places for them. Some insecticide around weedy places also helps eliminate the existing ones and the reproduction.
On of the most aggravating, but least hazardous, insects on my farm is the carpenter bee. Each year they infest my out-buildings, boring holes in the rafters, etc. They are not as aggressive as some of the other types of bees, but will sting you if aroused.
Actually, the female is the only one which has the ability to sting you. The male has no stinger. These bees resemble a bumble bee but smaller, and can drill a hole vertically into a board faster than you can go and find your drill. It’s about a 3/8 inch diameter hole and goes up several inches, then turns into a horizontal corridor where that make a nest.
Bees are important pollinators, but the ones that infest my barn must be eliminated. There are several “bee traps” on the market, but it’s going to take a bunch of traps to capture the volume of bees that I have!
Flies are always a problem around barns and livestock. In the horse stalls, I spray insecticide where the horse can’t eat it and apply repellent directly on the horse with a trigger sprayer and a roll-on applicator for around the eyes, etc.
I use a feed treatment (SimpliFly) that passes through the horse and stops the reproduction of the flies in and around the manure. All of these together helps to control the population, coupled with the daily removal of the manure products from the immediate area.
Don’t let a few hazards and insect control duties keep you from getting out and enjoying the beauties of the great outdoors. No matter what your favorite activities are, there’s something out there for everyone. Be tolerant of others, clean up you trash, create memories and family bonds, and enjoy life.
See photos: Dragonflies, damselflies in central Illinois
Dave Shadow is an outdoor columnist for the JG-TC.