Heat and Bugs

Hereʼs a pretty pointless post written Sunday when I was anticipating humid heat on the increase (as it vaguely did, more or less) and thinking about other hazards of summer…

I enjoyed last summer, partially because it was the first summer of the rest of my life (meaning freed from the daily grind of working), but also because it wasnʼt a stinking-hot, hideously humid Iowa summer. From my perspective, a year ago provided an amazingly comfortable season, although I felt frustrated having to hear on news reports and from friends and neighbors about how they wished it would warm up “at least for the weekend.” It is not like it rained all the time last year (as it pretty much did through June around here this year); it was just cool, highs normally not too far above 80º. So what were these fools thinking?

Well, possibly they were thinking warmer, sunnier days would be great for them to enjoy outdoor activities (like lying on a lawn chair slamming down brewskies or riding around in a boat slamming down brewskies or riding their motorcycles from bar to bar around the area, consuming… or here and there one or two may have had more wholesome outdoor activities in mind) in what they felt was “the good old summertime.” Of course, all these people probably have at home central air conditioning in which to escape at regular intervals from the wet-baking, sweat-slimed day and definitely in which climate-controlled environment to sleep in low-humidity comfort at night. Not having that particular modern convenience (viz. the reports on installing room air conditioners), Janet and I enjoy lower humidity in nature rather than artificially induced indoors (perhaps outdoorsy she more than weenie I), and the cool, dry days last July and August were like heaven for us (particularly for me at work here in the office with merely a fan and open windows for temperature control). Furthermore, we had lower electricity bills than we had enjoyed for at least a decade (although a former colleague and friend pointed out on her Facebook status for Independence Day that thirteen years ago the highs on the Fourth were only in the fifties).

This summer appears to be headed for a warmer pattern, although the latest forecast I have seen (“now” for me being Sunday) shows a cooler trend for this week than I had earlier anticipated (admittedly the incoming rain possibilities for later today/Tuesday and tomorrow are not good news for someone having to transport perhaps 300 binders of important information in the bed of his pickup truck each day; yes, I am indeed back at work). Rain approaching to spoil fireworks and outdoor parties on the Fourth (both of which we are/were-for-you-readers looking forward to) is making this afternoon as I type more comfortable than the earlier part of the day had been; in fact the heavy clouds are keeping the temperature in the office at 81º!

My latest corporate acquisition, an Off! mosquito-repelling personal fan

Another positive aspect of last yearʼs cool summer was a limitation on bugs somehow. Maybe the mosquitoes and gnats and other annoying entomons (entomonoi, perhaps, since I am inventing a word from the Greek root for entomology, the same root from which insecta in Latin stems) did not like the coolth; all I know is that there were fewer bugs annoying me last summer than I have already endured this one. (Once again I am actually living two days ago, Sunday, and I am worrying about what itʼs going to be like near the woods at an outdoor Fourth of July party that otherwise I am really, really anticipating.) Janet and I even went ahead and bought one of those newfangled personal bug-fans that Off! is marketing this year; we will jut have to discover if it does any good whatsoever (it seemed to have no effect at all on gnats Saturday late afternoon).

Gnats have been as thick as flies this year (poor joke), and flies have been plentiful as well. Even with all the rain, I havenʼt noticed many (if any) mosquitoes. Thankfully on the last. Running as dawn just begins in the summer mornings, I have been vaguely concerned about getting bitten by a West Nile-carrying mosquito (mostly because of news coverage on birds and bugs found with the virus, and the reporters always stress to avoid being out from dusk to dawn). The cooler temps of late have let me wear my longsleeved running shirt, which may be some protection from bites. Sometimes in the late afternoon, looking across our front yard, the view looks lightly gray and foggy from the plentiful gnats hovering about. The birds seem to enjoy it, though.

Yuck! A little research yields the notion our visitors may be — how Joycean — earwigs!

We also have been enduring a bug invasion as the temperatures have swelled, not as massive as the lady-bug-like Japanese beetles have been the past couple of years (and which after an early burst this spring we havenʼt really noticed). But we seem to always find four or five of these novelties that I have in mind somewhere around the house daily. They seem to like moist places, including the laundry basket. And although there appear to be two kinds, theyʼre pretty hideous. The larger and uglier is brown with big pincers and an antlike body and legs (more or less), while its smaller partners are also brown but more uniform in body, lozenge-shaped. We had feared that one or the other are termites, but by deciding to illustrate this paragraph with a picture, I am fairly certain the pincer-bugs are earwigs (as shown), although I still donʼt know about the other kind, more common outdoors than in. As I will be gone all day for a few days this week, I think I may attempt to spray around the house before leaving one morning… (assuming it doesnʼt rain, which is also in the cards for a few days here, as I already noted — including today).

For me the dubious “pleasures” of summer combined with actual employment and work are a novelty  — certainly not necessarily a pleasant one. And, to resurrect an old topic not otherwise addressed here today, as I had predicted to myself, we got a big start on the kitchen renovation over the long weekend. Janet did a lot to prepare the kitchen, and I learned by doing how to keep a bead of caulk going as we resealed the countertop. Painting will commence soon.

The party on Sunday was a delight, even with some intermittent rain showers (and we did sit outdoors on lawn chairs, but our host and hostessʼs notion of good eats was well outside the realm of ballpark meals). The bug fan was less important, on Sunday anyway, than the stiff breeze that kept buggy annoyances to a minimum. Furthermore, at least yesterday, the heat has not been noticeably inconvenient (yet), and the rest of the week is supposed to cap out around/just above 80º.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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