Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Year of the Pests...

First it was the ants. Then it was more ants. And then more ants. After about 10 cans of Terro Outdoor Ant Killer Spray, they've stopped coming into the house. And, I just topped off the Gourmet Liquid Ant Bait in 4 KM Ant Pro Units, I finally seem to be winning the battle against insects.

Or so I thought.

Yesterday, as I was brushing past the hibiscus plants, dragging out the garbage totes, I notice a small cloud of whiteflies. Looking closer, I also noticed what look like tufts of white threads coming out of some leaves, and others with spiral white designs on the bottom side. Seems like I have 1 or 2 infestations of whiteflies:

Common Greenhouse Whitefly (common because they don't do anything special)

and the Spiraling Whitefly -

that lays it's eggs in white spirals, generally on the undersides of leaves.

Of course, the wooly whitefly lays eggs in a spiral, but the eggs are brown, which doesn't match what I have, and my leaves have more "white hair" than "white wool", like this

. And then there's the leaves w/ white flys and white fly eggs below, that don't have wool or spirals.

Still reading?

Now - should I go w/ the general pest predator, the infamous Lady Bug? Or the ravenous Green Lacewing? Or maybe the Whitefly specific predator, Encarsia Formosa? Or maybe the new Delphastus (Scary thing is that I knew 3 of these 4 "beneficial insects" already!). Since to get 1 or 2 of them, I'd have to pay for FedEx shipping anyway, why not get the lot?

Why not spray, you ask? I have. I can probably knock the population down by ~80% by spraying. But, they like to live on the undersides of leaves, and they like to fly, so unless I can buy gallons of insecticide, and use my pressure sprayer to enable me to get under the leaves, it'll never get them all. I'll use the stronger pesticide on the infestation to knock it down, mix up a gallon or two of Safer Insect Killing Soap, which is much less harmful, to cull out many of the rest, and then go predator on the rest, to keep things in check.

But, it all boils down to have I killed enough ants so that I can now control the whiteflies, or while I'm distracted by the whiteflies on the hibiscus, they'll just start farming some sucking insect someplace else?

Annoying thing is, I'm pretty sure the whitefly problem stems back to the ant problem. Argentine ants farm insects that produce "honeydew" (sweet excretion from sucking insects, such as Aphids, Whitefly, Scale, Leafhoppers, plant lice, etc). I don't know if the ants "planted" these whiteflies themselves, or if they just kept the natural predator population down, and that's what allowed the whiteflies to take off on this one plant.

I think I'm already doomed - I just realized that the ants have had me distracted for 2 days now, and I'll soon discover their nefarious plan is already underway.

Good thing they're just sweet loving ants, and don't want anything important, like my beer

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Marriage and the Witness Stand...

Watching the idiot box, and despite managed to catch a few seconds of a commerical before we could grab the TiVo remote and skip over them. Nava says to me "Hey - I'm going to record that for you - you love that guy.". Then she asks me why I laugh so hard @ Nick from the BBC show My Family.

So I answers "Because he's the best lay-about."

And Nava asks "Excuse me, are you sure he's the best?"

Now, I can't remember what TV show or movie it was, but some actor(s) playing a lawyer once said "A good lawyer never asks a witness a question he doesn't know the answer to."

So - what's the corollary for marriage? Never answer a question until you're sure what the answer should be.

Most guys are used to the classic "Do these pants make my ass look fat?"

There's only one honest answer to the question ("It's not the pants."), but that's unlikely to be the one you should use.

Answer "No" too fast, and you're not even trying.

Best thing to do is have a heart attack, and hope that by the time you're out of the hospital, she forgot the question that triggered it.

So - to "Excuse me, are you sure he's the best [lay-about]?", I quickly answer "He's much worse than you, you at least paint."

Now - this is true, which means (a) it's unlikely to be a good choice. I also thought I was (b) defending my wife's honor to herself, as she sometimes feels like she should get a job / earn some money. But, it all falls back to not understanding what the actual intent of the question was. She wasn't thinking about herself as a lay-about, but someone else we recently saw in action.

So, the night before our 4th wedding anniversary, and I walk into one of those questions with my eyes closed.

Only good news is that I've managed to train Nava to not ask me the pants question.

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!