This, it seems, is shaping up to be the summer of calamities. First, we discovered that carpenter bees have invaded the roof of our porch. And there was I, innocently thinking English country garden, hearing the buzzing and thinking, "How nice to hear the bees!" When actually the brutes have been drilling neat holes in the wood, squeezing in and munching on the house to their heart's content. You can even hear the little jaws going click-click-click.... We have been spraying stuff into the holes and I've even been keeping guard and zapping them as they emerge. It's given me some satisfaction to get a few direct hits but I fear things have got too far. We may have to call The Exterminator.
But The Exterminator is going to be a busy bloke. I was gardening under one of our small oak trees when something brushued against my face. There, dangling on a fine spun line was a vigorous specimen of the current Cattaraugus County Public Enemy Number One, the gypsy moth caterpillar. I looked up aghast to see the blighters had totally taken over the tree. Spraying them with a little plastic thing which was all I had probably just made them laugh. Apparently the only way to do anything about them is to hire a plane to fly over your property and spray. My neighbour shook her head, "No point - they're everywhere. If you get rid of them in one place, they'll just come back." What are all those birds that wake us up in the morning with their squabbling doing? That's it. I'm axing the feeder. Starvation rations for them until they know what hunger is and they're thankful for a load of nice, juicy caterpillars. But we fear we may lose our beautiful oaks.
Meanwhile, a small bright spot. The rhododendron almost entirely eaten by the deer over the winter has come up with one, single perfect bloom.
I hope that's not its swan song.