It seems that each fall the farm house experiences a different plague of insects. They find their way thru cracks and openings missed by caulking and created by the year’s weather. We've had repeats don't get me wrong like flies and lady bugs but this years invader takes all prizes. When you live in a brick house that is over a hundred and seventy years old there are bound to be some unseen hard to reach openings. For the insect population however, it is not so hard to find.
The second year we lived on the farm we had a ton of flies that summer. We hadn't added animals yet and we never figured out why, but we did. I got the brilliant idea at the farm store to purchase a fly bag,” Guaranteed to trap 50,000 flies". Which in fact is hard to tell because I was not about to open it up and count, once it got full. What stunned us though were the words missing on the bag itself. They said “bag holds 50,000 flies," okay lets say that is true. But, it should have said "bag holds 50,000 flies out of the 200,000 flies it attracts". But it didn’t and we learned the hard way. To add insult to injury we hung the bag fifty feet from the house. We didn't realize our mistake until one night when we were getting ready for bed.
We had our first fire of the season that night in the down stairs kitchen. The flue of the kitchen fireplace runs up through the master bedroom, inside the house, and out the roof. Apparently during the early part of the fall the flies that didn't go into the trap worked they way into the bricks of the chimney. When the chimney started to get hot they started to work their way out. Not outside out but out and into the master bedroom. It was disgusting, just a nightmare of flies buzzing around and landing everywhere. We had piles and piles of dead flies by the attic windows.
Sleeping in the room that night was out of the question. We did find where the flies were getting in to the master bedroom and it was the intersection of the roof line and chimney. That night I sealed the inside and it seemed to stop the influx. Of course what was already in the house was something straight out of a horror movie. The next day was spent vacuuming the inside and caulking the outside and eventually we got the whole house pointed up.
But each fall seems to bring some pest or another the worst of which has to be this falls marmorated brown stink bug. According to Penn State they were found in Allentown in 1998 and come from China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. They are called stink bugs because of their defense mechanism. Which much like a skunk is used when they are frightened or get crushed. It is not a pleasant smell and although it is a small bug the smell far exceeds the size of the carrier. They are considered a "cat facing" insect. Meaning when they attack vegetable plants the resulting damage creates cat facing on the vegetable. They have no known predators so we are left with lures and traps to control their presence.
Usually by this time in the winter what has come in has died off. Not these bugs, they just keep multiplying. From what we’ve learned we have to wait until spring, when the bugs work their way outside, in order to caulk and seal openings. Caulking now will just keep them inside. Although they are small when they fly the sound of there wings is distinct and loud. You hear them flying by and they land with a thud. It is like they haven’t quite figured out how to land gracefully.
Yet each year we endure, my wife gets the vacuum and I just pass through the house with a paper bag and fill it with ones that I see. In the mean time we start to plan for 2010’s garden and figure out what we are going to add to our existing stock of fruits. This summer will be the summer of caulking, filling cracks and sealing crevasses’ and closing all the nooks and crannies we can find. So my wife still refers to our house as luxury camping and I can’t argue any different.
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