It’s a bug’s life out there

I wish it were just a summer problem.  However, in my gentle husband’s “lower 40” (front, back and side yards) bugs, both flying and crawling, happily make their home.

He will neither squish them nor poison them, insisting if left to their own natural rhythms, they do good things and keep each other in check.

Clearly, his idea of “in check” differs a tad from mine. Since no pesticides ever sully our growing green space, no day goes by without my having to pull a spider web off my face or an ant out of my hair.

I really do support keeping pesticides out of our environment. But these days, when I see any beautiful backyard layout I might covet, maybe in a magazine or at the fair, I can immediately dissolve all desire for it by picturing it overrun with sticky spider webs or a line of ants marching resolutely through it. It’s the best buzzkill ever.

There is no such thing as a last-minute party in my backyard (except maybe for the bugs). Yes, I know the spiders are eating the bad bugs, but I have massive spider condos adorning every piece of patio furniture, hanging plant, hot tub, plant, the patio cover, the grill, my car, the mailbox and anything else that doesn’t move fast and frequently. I spent hours scraping, sweeping, spraying and wiping them off everything in the backyard for my last party. I didn’t even bother until the morning of the event, because I knew that within four to six hours, they would all be back. This does not prompt me to remove them regularly. It’s like sweeping the Sahara.

If anyone needs black widows for research or sport, please let me know. Our yard seems to be their favorite vacation spot. There are also spiders from pinpoint size to half-a-hand span in every nook and cranny, and clouds of gnat-like creatures hovering over my lawn.

But this battle is not over. Researching this column, I learned that eucalyptus, lavender, citronella, cinnamon, citrus, peppermint or tea tree oil may naturally repel my many-legged foes. But to spray it every week will take a fair chunk of time. I’m offering free and safe shelter to any and all hungry lizards, frogs and maybe even chickens. Come on down. We have a 24/7, all-you-can-eat policy.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer wrestling with a love-hate outdoor relationship. Contact her at



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