This means war!
Gardening down here in Texas is different from up North. (So I'm told, since I don't participate directly in the process, only as a source of one kind of green that gets turned into another kind.) This being the tropics, or nearly, we have bugs. Bugs, bugs, bugs. Many bugs. Many different kind of bugs.
I don't like bugs. A lot. Too many legs. Two is a good number of legs to have -- in general, though many two-legged creatures are thoroughly intolerable, too. Four legs sometime make good eating, or good pets. Eight legs, well, most spiders are your friends. A large spider is a good sign, in a way. That big, fat spider is making a good living eating something else that I would not like to have around. Thank you, Mr or Ms Spider. And some other, larger eight-legged arthropods make good eating, too. But *six* legs, no sirree. Unacceptable. Bad number.
Coming from the North, we don't really understand bugs. They're there, but they're not dominant. The weather keeps them in check. Winter's job, as far as I can tell, is to keep the insects at bay. Is this why industrialization tends to grow more in the northern temperate climates, because bugs grow less? Because we don't have to spend so much effort fighting tropical insects and tropical diseases? Well, maybe, but that's irrelevant now. If you live down here, you have bugs in your neighborhood. The bugs even think they were here first. And they outnumber us by some huge ratio. You have them in the lawn. You have them in the vegetable garden. You have then in the flower beds. Landscaping just stirs them up, gives them more tasty bug morsels to munch on. Oh, new petunias, yum, yum. And the rain makes them bloom, right along with the plants. We had a whopping 0.2 inch of rain in July, and for a day they went nuts. Time to act.
So Ms Thornton, normally a gentle soul, is our captain in the war against The Bugs. Kill, kill, kill! Heap dead burnt bodies! In particular, Ms T has become our local expert in chemical and biological warfare. You know, the weaponry that there are international treaties about banning. Well, turns out that it's not illegal against other species.
Like any good captain, she delegates the job: "Sergeant, take that hill!" We have a service that promises to kill everything within twenty-five feet of the house. Out come the weapons. They have chemicals for this and parasites for that, some dust that they blow into special conduits in the walls. Yes, a standard feature of houses down here is a bug barrier, a special injection system in the walls accessible from the outside. The truck pulls up once in a while, stuff goes in, bugs go out. Cool.
Better living through chemistry!
PS: Another in the long list of crackpot theories that might contain a grain of truth. Chemlawn and their friends, and the general overuse of insecticides, are a major reason for the absence of wildlife of all sorts in urban and suburban areas. When I was a kid, in the middle of a city, the neighborhood swarmed with butterflies, cicadas, praying mantises, katydids, walking sticks, bugs of all sorts. I didn't like all of them, but I could see them. They're not here anymore. Nor even in New Hampshire, at least not in the numbers that I remember through the long telescope of childhood memory.
Copyright (C) 2000, 2001, 2002, Richard Landau. All rights reserved.