Like fire ants, they’re spreading

Published 12:32pm Friday, March 23, 2012

“The little white clouds are racing over the sky,
And the fields are strewn with the gold of the flower of March,
The daffodil breaks under foot, and the tasseled larch
Sways and swings as the thrush goes hurrying by.”
~Oscar Wilde
An early spring has come to Saluda, and with it among pale-pink drifts of cherry blossoms at McCreery Park. Other things have come as well, maybe not as welcome.  Bugs. Varmints. Pests.

A kudzu bug (megacopta cribraria). (photo submitted by Alex Bardos)

Visitors that appear by magic—with intent to stay, and keep staying — unwelcome guests that appear for dinner and never leave.
Woolly adelgids on hemlock trees are supposedly returning in full force this year. Apparently, even pests have on and off years, just like the rest of us. The good guys, bats and bees are struggling — I’ve watched my own bat colony practically vanish over the past few years — from under the shutters and also from the bat houses. With a warmer than usual winter, the bad guys had a head-start. Along as the early grass season, ticks and mosquitoes are bound to hatch out earlier, too.
Last summer and fall, I started noticing strange dark-shelled ladybugs hanging around. Was this a mutation of sorts? The  little crunchers acted and smelled the same as the imported Asian ladybugs. Both are attracted to white walls, western and southern exposures, have a lingering hard-to-get-rid of smell: they’ll find any crack in your house where they can gain entrance for the winter months. What are these alien bugs?

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