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I live in the country for peace of mind and I remain in awe of the sights and sounds of Pike County nature. Sometimes though, the beauty is baffling.
Last week as I drove down my driveway, huge swarms of white bugs were pitching and yawing in unison across the field in front of the house. It was just before the sun had fully risen and I thought from several hundred yards away they were little wisps of fog or even pollen.
But as I got closer, I realized they were moving like humans doing slow Tai Chi exercise and thereby animate.
I am now told they are known as “Miller bugs,” by a long-time local, or Miller moths according to the Internet.
They apparently can kill alfalfa hay and wheat but don’t pose threats to human health.
I did read they are an incredible nuisance if they fly indoors. Apparently most of them drown if you put a bucket of water underneath a white light in the house.
I respect and love critters but if any Miller bugs get in my house, there will be aquatic genocide in northern Pike County.
I don’t have any respect for buffalo gnats, although I assume the big guy upstairs has some logical use for them in the ecological chain.
As you know, buffalo gnats like to roam where the deer and the antelope play and buzz into unguarded human places. I suspect they had a lot to do with the invention of loin cloths.
I overheard a farmer say they have become worse in recent seasons, thanks to the almost yearly floods we now get along the Mississippi River.
Fortunately, locals have tipped me off to the vanilla extract mixed with water in a spray bottle trick to keep the gnats at bay. I now douse myself before gardening and the great thing is, you only smell like a vanilla milk shake, not like the drum of chemicals odor you get from other bug repellents.
I know the gnats are bad because the ever-marauding Stanley — our trusty steed of a dog — has tripled his in and out of the house rate in recent days. Ticks don’t bug Stanley, but gnats sure do.
The only good thing about having to get off the couch five times an hour for Stanley’s revolving circus of life is that he doesn’t bring as many ticks in the house.
It’s also cut down drastically on his display of deceased rabbits, young raccoons, possums and assorted deer parts that he proudly plops below our picture window whenever there isn’t snow on the ground.
That also means the sons and I don’t get ordered out on carcass control as often by the real boss of the family, who is appalled when the hunting trophies are placed in her sight.
So when I hear her yell “Gross!” these days, the boys and I don’t even skip a beat.
We simply go out to the shed for the shovel, scoop up Stanley’s latest prize and deposit it in the all-things-dead barrel beyond the big walnut tree.
It’s kind of like Pavlov’s dog in reverse.