Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The pests of spring

April 4, 2012

Really, spring is the most beautiful season of the year. You look out at your backyard and it is a lush carpet. The yard is framed with a variety of beautiful flowers. Certainly, you burst with pride as you realize your hard work and costly seed seem to be worth it.

Unfortunately, in a couple of days, or if you are lucky, weeks, the view is shockingly different. Your carpet of green is now dotted with yellow — the annual infestation of dandelions has arrived. But, that’s not the only problem; your yard is littered with mole holes. Of course the crabgrass isn’t far behind and if that isn’t bad enough the deer are enjoying munching on your tulips. Yes, the joys of spring have degenerated into the annual battle with pests. Despite a variety of weapons and a ton of suggestions, sadly, it’s a war the garden lover will always lose.

Over the years we have discovered that dandelions are very hardy and you can hardly eradicate them. It seems that if there is a dandelion within five miles, the parachute-like seed will find your yard. Over the years, we have tried sprays and digging.

Without a doubt the most successful method of getting rid of the annual infestation of “tiny yellow pests” is to dig them up, but that is a tough task. When our daughters were young, I offered to pay them a penny for every dandelion they dug up. After an hour they discovered they had only earned a quarter and wanted a raise to five cents each.

I did a bit of research and discovered the obvious when one website pointed out: “the dandelion is officially categorized as a weed.” I doubt that came as a surprise to many folks who spend hours manicuring their lawn.

When I was young my father suggested I dig up dandelions. However, I thought it would work to take the weed whip and cut them off. Really to an imaginative kid, it was fun. I saw myself armed with a sword and fighting off waves of attacking pirates and I always won. The dandelion appeared to be gone. But, alas, that wasn’t the case. I discovered that unless you get the root, dandelions are “regenerative” or quickly rebound with another yellow pest. Certainly, dandelions are one of the most resilient species of yard pests.

I was surprised that there are folks who like dandelions. One person wrote that “dandelions add color to his yard without any work.” Others respect the dandelion for its food value. It seems that what many of us call weeds are rich in several vitamins including B, C and D, as well as minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorous. I know about folks who prepare and enjoy a glass of dandelion wine.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I think I’ll stay with “normal” vegetables.

The No. 2 pest as far as I‘m concerned is the mole. They can ruin a lawn within a couple of days and are almost impossible to eradicate. I have discovered that everyone has a theory, but I haven’t had any luck. I have tried traps, poison and even flooding the mole hole, but with no success.

One person suggested flooding the mole runs and waiting for the pest to try to get out and then smacking them with a hammer. Apparently this would be a real-life game of “Whack a Mole.” No, I haven’t tried it.

I read three articles by experts and they all suggested trapping as the best method of eradication. I did discover a couple of yard experts who thought moles weren’t so bad. It was pointed out that they eat destructive insects such as termites and ants.

I guess that all I can do is enjoy the beauty of spring and accept the fact that sooner or later a group of varmints will attack the flowers and grass causing me to go to war once again and probably lose.

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