Summer Invaders

By , May 31, 2011

Summer’s in full swing on the homestead. We realized that not when the garden began to flourish, not when the weather felt right (warm and overcast—wow, it feels like July!) not when the fish returned to our waters. We realized it when the invaders attacked.

If you know me, you’re probably thinking, “ah—tourists!” but I’m speaking of voles and carpenter ants. Seemingly in one day, both descended on the homestead, and the seasonal battles have begun.

I’d hoped after last year’s scorched earth policy that we’d made the cabin pretty uninhabitable for carpenter ants, but I should have known better. True, we’ve only seen a lone ant or two each day, but that’s how it starts, doesn’t it? We’re setting out bait in hopes of avoiding the crisis levels of last year, but hopefully the main areas they frequented last year are still too full of diatomaceous earth for them to settle in.

The voles threw down the gauntlet in a slightly unusual way this year. We’ve seen them skulking around on the perimeters, but the other day I came down from the ridge with a load of firewood to find Michelle standing over our flower garden with a blowgun. It seems voles had mowed down several of the budding flowers over our cat, Lissa’s grave, an unpardonable insult. We mobilized immediately, cleaning the winter-dusty blowguns, baiting and setting traps. Spice stood ready to serve, policing the arctic entryway faithfully, catching a vole now and then (to be released “for practice” inside the cabin, whenever possible). The body count is rising, and so far the food crops are largely safe. As I say, summer is now in full swing.

2 Responses to “Summer Invaders”

  1. Don says:

    Mark,

    According to a family friend and pest control guy, carpenter ants are pretty much only interest in damp wood. If you have carpenter ants in some part of the house, look around and you’ll probably find a leak somewhere. Solve the leak, and solve the ant problem.

    Or maybe that’s a local thing down here in one of the lowest of the Lower 48 :^).

    Don

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Don,

    Your friend is right. Before we bought the homestead, sea spray soaked the front logs of the cabin. Carpenter ants moved in and destroyed it. The original builders replaced the first floor logs with outdoor timbers and plywood, then we added the cedar shakes when we bought it.

    The ants continue to move in and out of the cabin each year through the old tunnels. They’re probably not boring into the wood, but they try to live here, which is bad enough–especially because they like to chew the foam board insulation as well as wood, and they get into our food sometimes. We think the building’s integrity is sound, but we still have our hands full keeping the ants out.

    Mark

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