This is the time of year when my battles begin with the bugs. Sometimes I win, and sometimes I lose.
Today I began the monthly ritual of applying the Advantage Plus topical on the back of the dogs necks. Coty and Nugget stand like soldiers and are easy to work with...Little Bear is always rolling around or barking at something so I wait until she is inside and then she is very good while the cold sensation of liquid meets the small exposed area of skin. Sam is a whole other story. He requires his mother to speed walk in several circles around the living and dining rooms before he will submit by crawling in a large dog pen near the kitchen. Then he meekly allows me to administer the dose. A very difficult patient, that dog! During the night feeding I dropped an Interceptor in each bowl now that the nasty mosquitoes have hatched. Interceptor is a heart worm preventative. The ticks haven't shown up yet that I know of...it is usually May through the end of August on our farm when the nightly scalp searches must be performed if I have been under trees or in the woods. Disgusting but so very necessary! Thankfully the Advantage Plus eliminates the nasty need for plucking yellow looking pus balls that are really gorged ticks full of dog blood. I never saw a tick in my life until we moved to the farm, or a flea for that matter. The cats are next. Revolution will be applied tomorrow and the barn cats need to visit the vet for their seasonal dose of Drontal which is the only deworming pill that eliminates ALL worms for both cats and dogs. The ponies have already had their deworming this month but flies are their bone of contention. Blue had several small ones on his broad face today and I saw Jessie stomping in the field so the battle has begun.
There is a saying...kill a fly in March and you have killed thousands...kill a fly in April and you have killed hundreds...kill a fly in July and you have just killed a fly. How true! The flies get thick in the horse stalls for some reason. I have been at other barns where the problem is minimal. I think it is because I have the dutch doors and the large 8 foot by 4 foot wide openings are an invitation. So, this year, I am keeping the bottom doors closed which still allows for good air flow. So far, so good. Last year at this time I had flies in March. Fly spray is not good for humans and I used get this weird taste in the bottom of my throat when I sprayed. Not anymore which worries me...any way, I am thinking of ordering fly predators and have read encouraging success stories. Speaking of predators, the next insect that I do battle with seems to have no natural predator whatsoever.
Borer Bees a.k.a. Carpenter Bees! I absolutely despise these arrogant useless buzzing menaces. No bird eats them. I have yet to see a bird try. (take that back...just read the pileated woodpeckers love them!) No bat eats them. The bees hide in their tunnels at night. Nothing eats them! I am the only one that attempts to eradicate them which is crucial to avoid being threatened only inches away from my face while entering the tack room door. They are large black and yellow striped divebombers. They are fast and furious. I have read that only the female will sting and the males guard her while she is in the hole with a fierce determination. I do have some weapons though...an earth friendly weapon is to hose the hole! I put the nozzle on 'jet' and spray the hole with a strong stream of water. If a bee is in there, loud threatening buzzing can be heard...hopefully the water pressure has either injured it or discouraged re-entry. Should that not be the case, then out comes the aerosol can of Hot Shot which I have found works the best and has a stronger spray. I have to put the kitties away during this exercise as the spray residue falls to the ground. I water it down when I am finished. I don't like using it but I do not want to experience the excruciating pain of a supersized stinger entering my flesh. (Remember to store your aerosols away from heat sources!) While I am on the subject, sand hornets are the worse. There is an area in the large field that if not mowed regularly, the sand hornets find it attractive and go after the big blue New Holland with a fury and with no fear. My hair stands up on my arms when they get near me. They are the width of my pinkie finger, with orange and black stripes and probably a good inch and a half long, no kidding. I cannot find the exact version of them in my bug book nor online so I am not even sure I have the correct name.
I do not kill all stinging or biting insects...wasps are usually not bad, though the reds are worse than the blacks. Regarding spiders, I do not kill the wolf and garden spiders. I just gently shoo them out of the barn. I will kill the black widows and hornets. Callie is awesome for finding a hidden spider. I have yet to see a brown recluse and pray they do not get near me, near the house, in the house, near the barn or in the barn...too dangerous. I make it a habit to shake the blankets out before putting them on the horses to ensure no insect is hiding in the folds. Tomorrow I must stock up on Revolution and Hot Shot. Tomorrow I will order the fly predators, but today I have begun the battle of the bugs!