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March, 2005:

Beetles IV

Another visit upstairs revealed a plague like attack of stink bugs, which seemed to appear from nowhere. Hundreds of them, appeared over night and covered the windows in the upstairs. We are not sure what caused this influx – maybe female beetle pheromones – but we weren’t the only ones inflicted – the neighbours had the same problem. We dispatched¬† them with nasty chemicals (the beetles not the neighbours!).

We fondly call them stink bugs because if you squash one it emits a foul odour. We think they are related to the shield beetle and don’t seem to do any harm.

More of these stink bugs appeared in summer, making the Christmas tree their meeting place. Each evening, for a fortnight, the sky would be filled with the buzzing noise of hundreds of stink bugs congregating in our tree. They didn’t seem to do anything but just buzz around the branches – to the bats delight. After a fortnight of this, they disappeared.

Beetles III

Woodworm and capricorn beetles are slowly and quietly munching their way through our wooden timbers in most of the buildings. We knew they were there but had not done anything about them.

Until… I went upstairs to root around for something in one of the boxes and spotted what looked like a pile of black dust. On closer inspection, it was a pile of tiny dead beetles which under a magnifying glass were the adult Capricorn beetle. A quick trip to the local DIY store, one huge vat of chemicals later and we were both up ladders brushing, scrubbing the beams before spraying them all with noxious death sprays.

One area done, many more to go ….. we will completey soak each area as we tackle it with these chemicals.

Snakes II

snakeskin

After the little scare with the poisonous adder in the front border, Adrian found a huge snake skin whilst weeding down the bottom of the garden. The snake that had worn this skin was no youngster, it was about a metre long! The markings on the skin suggested that it hadn’t come from an adder but from the common grass snake. I’ll be gardening not only in leather gloves but wellies from now on!

Lizards

We have one huge green lizard who lives down the bottom of the garden. He sometimes comes out to sunbathe but mostly we just hear him crashing through the undergrowth if we go anywhere near him.

All around the outside of the house, gardens and barns are literally hundreds of geckos. These are small lizards which cling to the walls and eat greenfly and other insects. They are quite cute, especially the tiny baby ones. We had them on our property in South Africa.

One of our well traveled cats, loves them and spends many an hour sat watching them. When he does catch one, they have an escape plan, which involves them dropping their tails, which they grow back again. We have had many a writhing tail, thrashing around, with no body attached in the house with a happy black cat watching.

Bats

One spring evening, while sat out in the garden, we spotted 3 or 4 bats flying formation up and down the orchard beds. On further investigation we found a couple of old swallow nests up among the wooden beams in the centre barn. The bats were using these as roosts, flying in and out of the barn through the old hay loft window.

During the summer they kept us entertained each evening, flying around the Christmas tree catching beetles and moths.

As winter approached they moved out, probably found somewhere warmer. We were not sure what kind of bats they were,  they were small,  certainly not fruit bats!

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