Earthworms are sometimes called the intestines of the soil or nature's plow. They are the gardener's best ally as they literally eat their way through earth, digesting organic matter and minerals and transforming it into mature soil. They also break up and aerate the earth.
Bug Of The Month
People probably couldn’t live without bees. Approximately 90 percent of all flowering plants require pollination to survive.
In the agricultural industry, a third of pollination is accomplished by honey bees. Among the plants that depend on honey bee pollination are almonds, carrots, melons, apricots, cherries, pears, apples, avocados and blueberries. Meat, milk and cheese products are reliant on the pollinated crops that livestock eat.
Pesticides bug me, and it looks like I am not alone. On April 11, Cuyahoga County Council passed a comprehensive ordinance banning pesticides on all county-owned properties. Because pesticides are toxic chemicals that are ubiquitous in our environment, the decision to reduce this burden is heroic. Councilmembers Julian Rogers (Cleveland Heights) and Sunny Simon (South Euclid) spearheaded the effort.
Their leadership serves as an example to other Ohio officials that public health is always a priority and that safer pest and land management can work. Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked to cancer, 15 are linked to birth defects, 15 to neurotoxicity and 11 to endocrine system disruption. Last year, for the sake of children’s health, New York and Connecticut banned pesticides from all school grounds and playing fields. For the same reason, Cleveland Heights banned pesticides on all city, school, library and daycare center grounds. Recent reports from Cornell and Harvard universities demonstrate that transitioning to organic lawn-care practices saves money and produces healthier, disease-resistant turf when compared to chemical-based programs.
“Ants come and ants go.” That’s what my pest control maven, Vinny Boombah, tells me every spring. So, if you find ants in your home at this time of year, do not panic. More often than not, they just leave. Some folks nuke them with toxic materials, and they still come back. Chances are your ants are the small brown or reddish variety. They are seeking sweets, meat or greasy foods.
Not all bugs are pests. Indeed, less than one percent of insects are considered pests. Furthermore, insects have always done a better job of controlling other insects—by eating them—than people have with poisons.
The idea of manipulating insects for pest control is not new. In 1800, Charles Darwin’s grandfather suggested breeding ladybugs to control aphids. The lady in ladybug refers to the Virgin Mary. Ladybugs love to eat aphids, and are also thought to bring good luck.
Okay, okay skunks aren’t bugs, but they do bug a lot of people, and some folk mistakenly use pesticides—in the form of mothballs—to deter them. Skunks are not al bad, however. Let’s accentuate the positive: skunks hunt rodents and also live on insects. They like grasshoppers, grubs and potato beetles. New York State even passed a law protecting skunks because these furry critters were helping the hop growers by eating hop grubs.
Believe it or not, skunk spray was once thought to be good for asthma. Nocturnal and nomadic, skunks rarely stay in one place, except when they’re raising their young. A three-foot-high wire mesh fence, buried six inches in the ground, usually will keep skunks off your property. To avoid attracting skunks, never leave out pet food and keep garbage in sturdy closed containers.
The word “bug” comes from the Welsh word “bwg” meaning ghost -- thus the word “bugaboo.” Got bedbugs? Don’t panic. They do not transmit disease and can be controlled without toxic chemicals.
The Greek philosopher Democritus advocated hanging a dead deer at the foot of the bed. If a dead deer isn’t handy or desirable, an immediate remedy is to smear petroleum jelly around the legs of the bed so they can’t crawl up. Or place each bed leg in a container of water. The bugs’ flat shape allows them to hide in narrow cracks of baseboards, seams of mattresses and crevices behind wallpaper, baseboards and picture frames – so you may want to caulk, replaster or paint. Also, eliminate clutter, encase mattress and box springs, launder sheets and clothing and vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.