Poetry and Gardening

Musings from the days of a creative writer/gardener with a true appreciation for nature, meditation, and poetry.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gardening Advice: Getting rid of flying ants

Quick Tips to Get Rid of Flying Ants
By Dawn Reno Langley

Most ants crawl, but some varieties fly, and those might get into your hair, your food, and your trash, but some are far more damaging than irritating. Getting rid of the pesky creatures is fairly easy if you know how—and if you can determine what type of flying ants you have.
Types of Flying Ants
Before you bring out the pesticide spray to get rid of those pesky flying ants, take a closer look to determine what type of bugs you have. According to University of Florida entomologists, several characteristics make it easy to distinguish termites from flying ants. Because there are dozens of types of carpenter ants, some of which fly, gardeners and home owners should look at the features that are easiest to identify. The University of California’s Integrated Pest Management Program offers excellent graphics of the differences between termites and ants, which include:
·        Wings:  Termite’s wings are equal length; flying ants wings are longer in the front and the rear set of wings is half the size.
·        Waists:  Ants have a constricted waist and termites have a broad waist.
·        Color:  Ants are dark; termites are a lighter color.
Where They Live
Ants nest in debris or foliage around a building’s foundation, but they also can build nests in small cracks or holes anywhere in a building. If you find them inside your home, it is a good idea to determine whether the flying creatures you see are, indeed, flying ants or whether they are termites. Carpenter ants damage wood structures almost as effectively as termites, and the easiest way to see whether your building is home to them is to scrutinize the area around your siding and walls for little trails of sawdust.  Those trails indicate there’s a nest nearby.  Whether it’s a nest of termites or carpenter ants, you must be proactive.
When You Find Them
If you discover flying ants during the summertime, there’s a good chance they just happened to get inside because your house/building is more open during that season. If it’s wintertime, chances are they’ve nested in your building. Flying ants are not active in the winter. Termites tend to swarm around rotting or moist wood, and if you see them inside, you might have an infestation. If you determine you have termites, call a pest control company. If you have flying ants, you can take steps to handle the infestation yourself.
Protect Your Garden and Buildings
1.      Trim bushes and low shrubs that hug the foundation of your building.
2.      Keep mulch at least a foot away from siding.
3.      If possible, create a cement barrier at the base of your building.
4.      When building fences or decks, choose a termite-resistant material.
5.      Keep structures dry and well-ventilated.
6.      Remove piles of wood or debris from the area.
7.      Repair any cracks or holes in your building.
Removing the Ants/Termites
·        Contact a professional termite control company if you suspect you have a termite infestation. They are licensed to use the correct pesticide to rid your building of the damaging pests.
·        Use over-the-counter pesticide baits if you have flying ants in your garden/building.
·        Make a natural pesticide bait with borax and sugar.  Mix evenly and leave a small dish of the mixture near the nest. Clean frequently.
·        Be careful to follow instructions.
·        Peppermint spray is a natural remedy for flying ants. Mix peppermint oil (purchase at your local natural food store) with dish detergent and water in a spray bottle.  (One part soap, two parts water, several drops of peppermint oil).  Shake well and spray.
·        Spray dish soap on the ants. The heaviness of the soap weights down their wings, bringing them to the ground where they will die.
·        Pesticide sprays tend to scatter ants, thus bait traps are more effective.
·        A bug zapper works on most flying insects by luring the bugs into it, then electrocuting them.
·        Carpenter ants are stubborn and may not succumb to baits. Check with a professional if the bait traps don’t appear to be successful.

Today's Poem -- About Ants


Ravi Shankar

One is never alone. Saltwater taffy colored 
beach blanket spread on a dirt outcropping 
pocked with movement. Pell-mell tunneling,  

black specks the specter of beard hairs swarm, 
disappear, emerge, twitch, reverse course 
to forage along my shin, painting pathways 

with invisible pheromones that others take 
up in ceaseless streams. Ordered disarray, 
wingless expansionists form a colony mind, 

no sense of self outside the nest, expending 
summer to prepare for winter, droning on
through midday heat. I watch, repose, alone.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Coming Back to the Earth

When all else fails, I come back to the earth.  Sadness looms, and I dig my fingers into the dirt.  Pull a couple of weeds.  Plant some bulbs.  Inhale the deepest, reddest rose I can find.  Look into the pale blue sky and find the black brushstroke that is a swallow and watch it flit through its universe until it disappears.  Nothing works better than the garden for taking away pain and anguish and despondency.

On the converse, nothing works better than gardening when you want to relish the happiness you might feel.  Watch a bearded lily unfold, rejoicing in its ability to reach for the sun, and you can open up your own heart and feel the beauty of nature.

It's deep spring again in North Carolina, and the flowers I planted in the garden last spring are blooming or beginning to bud.  The jonquils are long gone, the lilies starting to peter out, the roses in the garden at the empty house across the street are in their first blush.  Daisies are rising from the ground and gardenias becoming their glossy, forest green.

This part of the year reminds me of the reason why so many great poets write about nature, so I offer another to you here.  This one is a simple yet profound statement on the season by e.e. cummings.


Spring is like a perhaps hand 
(which comes carefully 
out of Nowhere)arranging 
a window,into which people look(while 
people stare
arranging and changing placing 
carefully there a strange 
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps 
Hand in a window 
(carefully to 
and fro moving New and 
Old things,while 
people stare carefully 
moving a perhaps 
fraction of flower here placing 
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.