I haven’t been out too much this week.

For one thing it has been finals week at my school and I have been in full prep mode to wind down the year. For another the wet warm weather we have had this year has made for a bumper crop of fleas in the yard. Fleas see me coming from a mile away and pack their bags to travel from neighboring yards to my person when ever I am about. Today has been all about doing war with them. I have brought out the big guns. Both Raid flea killer which makes me gasp even if does nothing for the fleas and diatomaceous earth. Raid is like the first strike. It gets the adults and any eggs that might be around but it has a short life span. I don’t believe the 4 months thing they say on the can. I followed this with a sprinkling of diatomaceous earth. This is a fine white powder that is made from the shells of bazillions of diatoms that died and fell to an ocean floor eons ago. It is non toxic to me and my family but it cuts the cuticle of the chitin shell of the flea and causes the flea to dehydrate. It goes down for the long-term. To help keep anything that does hatch from surviving long enough to breed. All the bedding went through either the dryer and the washer/dryer on high heat to kill what ever might be lurking in there to nosh on my tender flesh. This deals with the inside territory but doesn’t get me out side again.

To address that issue I have powdered all the yard near where I garden with the diatomaceous earth. This will kill fleas, cockroaches and other things we have an unnatural dislike of but it will also kill some of the things I want, in the same way, so I use it judiciously. I don’t put it in my garden beds, for example, so I don’t hurt any of the caterpillars that might pupate there. I also don’t want to harm the spiders and other such beasties who populate my garden. They kill many insect pests I don’t want and are important to the ecosystem.

Thinking about how the fleas in my yard have driven me inside got me thinking about how we tend to hide from discomfort in nature and in our lives in general. I reached a point where I’d had enough but, if it had stayed safe to stay inside, if the fleas had not hitched a ride on my shoes and socks from those times when I was out watering and such to invade the inside of the house, I might have not gotten past the talking part. I might have found a cozy nook and holed away for the summer, waiting for the time when the weather got cold enough to send the fleas packing for the winter.

There are a lot of tools out there, like diatomaceous earth to deal with unwanted pests in your yard. Another tool are predatory nematodes. A microscopic worm like creature that will eat anything insect it finds. Put it down where you want to limit insect activity but not in butterfly gardens. Like Diatomaceous earth it can be harmful to things you want to keep so use it with deliberation. Because I plant for wildlife I avoid broadcast toxins because many of them transport up the food chain. You can learn more from your local master gardeners clubs but, do be aware that because they are part of the local agricultural extension offices of the USDA they do tend to the chemical solution. If you are clear that you want to avoid such things Master Gardeners will help steer you in that direction.

Don’t let the insect pests keep you inside.