The Cow Killer

Sleepy Sunday Collage

Today started out a peaceful, sleepy Sunday. Holly had the back bedroom all to herself.  Hermione dreamed of the first day of school.  Dobby said her prayers curled up next to her daddy. And Blondie snoozed half in and half out of her little piggie house.

Once most of the peanut gallery was up and at ’em, it was time to do a little check of the garden.  Dobby and Holly were my outdoor supervisors today. Hermione napped the morning away on the bookcase in the living room. She didn’t make an appearance until after the work was done.

A spot check of the tomato and bell peppers revealed evidence of a familiar intruder. Large droppings underneath the pepper gave away the hiding spot of Mr. Hornworm.

hornworm strikes again.jpg
Hornworm strikes again… Gross!

Obviously I waited too long to reapply my cornstarch home remedy to the bell pepper plant. Mr. Worm was happily munching away. But the plant is quite leafy for its size. I am expecting the plant to recover quickly. Mr. Worm… not so much. More on his fate in another post.

Later in the morning, Sam saw Dobby with her paw stuck down a snake hole. Thankfully she didn’t fish anything out, and she decided to bury the hole’s entrance when she was done playing pirate. So no pictures of that one. Not sure who or what was in it. But that probably explains why the dog acts uber cautious when she approaches the bushes in that area.

Our tenant garden spider is fattening up for whatever it is that spiders fatten themselves up for… winter, perhaps? Of all God’s creatures, spiders are one of my least favorite. So unless the tenant does something completely remarkable, like spin the name of my guinea pig on her web, she will remain the least photographed resident of our menagerie. If you’d like to see what she looks like, her picture can be found here.

The mimosa tree on the east end of our property is a gathering spot for a variety of birds and insects. It still has a few pink blooms on its upper branches. I am going to miss all the traffic at that tree when the last blooms turn brown and fall off.

Congregating at the mimosa drive-in today were butterflies, dragonflies in shades of blue and red, various smaller flying insects, Blue Jays, a pair of cardinals, a stray squirrel or two, and one hopelessly intoxicated hummingbird. At least that’s the best way to describe it.

The poor hummingbird got my attention because it repeatedly crashed into the eaves along the edge of our roof. I’d catch something out of the corner of my eye and then, “Whack!” The poor thing would slow down, put it in reverse, and do its best to clear the roof of the house.

The woozy bird circled back around at least half a dozen times in 15 minutes, banging its little brown head each time by. I wondered more than once if we should prepare for a crash landing. Eventually the hummingbird stopped circling back, and I didn’t see it again. I hope it recovers from whatever was ailing it and has a better day tomorrow.

The blue jays and cardinals got hungry as the afternoon wore on. The mimosa tree was their go-to grocery store, the perfect stop for a quick meal.  Before long they had their fill.

About the time I was thinking of heading inside to work on my own supper, I noticed movement on the ground across the back porch near the doorway. Something big and bug-like skittered along the bottom of the white lattice. It cast a long shadow in the late afternoon light.  At first glance I thought it was another large garden spider, like the tenant.

You know the old saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?” I adopt that strategy with spiders. They can live outdoors provided I know their whereabouts. So I hopped up to check on what I thought was going to be our newest arachnid. This is what I saw.  Cow Killer

God bless Google because I would never in a million years have figured out on my own that this bright creature is a female eastern velvet ant or “cow killer.” She is actually not an ant — or a killer, for that matter — but a wingless wasp with a reputation for an incredibly painful sting, thus the common name “cow killer.”

Normally I’d be inclined to leave her be.  However, I had a couple of little problems, and their names are Hermione and Dobby. I was not the only one who spotted her. Hermione was on a mission most of the evening to search her out. Dobby caught on that there was something interesting to be had along the edge of the concrete floor, so she joined the search party, too. Mrs. Cow Killer was weaving in and out of the lattice as if she were searching for something, thankfully just out of reach of curious paws and noses.

Though the cats were stumped this time in their efforts to capture trouble, we could not leave the scarlet lady to her business of scouting out a home for her larvae. Somebody was going to wind up in agony sooner rather than later. So Mrs. Cow Killer had to be exterminated, beautiful as she was.

I am now strongly rethinking my policy of gardening barefoot. I wonder if Tractor Supply carries combat boots?

© 2015-2016 Our Lives In Stories

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