Friday, July 3, 2009


It's been a rough day. First thing this morning I took the dogs out for a walk and I was swarmed. I was tapping the ground with my walking stick to warn the snakes that we were coming through and I set off a swarm of red wasps. In the past few days, when I walked past the backyard Oak tree, I felt something slap against my face or chest and I thought it was a moth or butterfly, that I had simply walked into something. It didn't occur to me that I was being attacked. Today, I was full-on attacked. It was like a small cloud. One got into my shirt and before I could get it out it stung my shoulder seven times. I had stings on my hands and arms, but couldn't see them until later in the afternoon when the swelling went down. I couldn't raise my arm for six hours. It was limp, with shooting pain from my neck to my fingertips. I think they have a nest in the electrical post toward the back of the property. It's the females that fly, swarm and sting, and unlike bees, they can sting multiple times. Red wasps colonies have only one queen, and the rest of the flyers are her daughters. By winter, most of the colony dies off and the queen finds a secret hiding place to wait out the bad weather. This colony is obviously huge! Red wasps eat chicadas and those nasty tomato worms that eat my plants. It's too bad they're so aggressive because they are a beneficial, but they're also dangerous since they have a tendency to swarm.

So, I decided to work in the front yard. I put the hose on a slow drip to fill the toad-pole pond and realized I overfilled it when I saw one of the toadies floating away. I quickly rescued the critter then got down on my hands and knees to check for other swimmers and I was swarmed a second time by fire ants! It's been a hard day. I am covered in bites, on my shoulder, arm, hands, thumbs, knees, ankles and feet.

While I was working on the back porch I moved a plant pot and found a large female toad. She was a bit nervous at first and started to climb out of her pot, then decided she liked the chive pot better. I have pictures of her to the right. She is lovely. Her eyelids shimmer with gold as if she's wearing eye shadow.

Then, as I was looking out my bedroom patio door, I saw what I thought was a baby snake. I took a few pictures with my cell phone camera and as it turned its head to look at me, I realized, from the appearance of its head, that it is actually a lizard! When I enlarged the pictures I could also see that it had four legs, which rules out snake! The snakey-lizard's pictures are to the right, as well.

There must have been hundreds of lizards out today. Everywhere I looked there was a lizard. I saw three baby lizards in my rosemary garden. I also saw the window lizard making his rounds on the driveway and the two striped lizards with pink tails still make a circle around my house, just like last year, their heads flipping from side to side as they search for bugs.

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