So, I’ve made a spectacle of myself by securing tack strips atop the block walls by way of repelling Other Daughter’s obnoxious cat. Like the Ant Wars, the Cat War has gone on for some time, and as we know,
He who does battle with a cat loses.
However… Ah, howEVER… It does appear that for the first time since the last sabre-toothed tiger succumbed, the hominid is winning.
That damn cat has not been seen since I secured the last few feet along the eastside wall and figured out that I could use heavy-duty exterior double-sided mounting tape to attach tack strip lengths to the wall’s column caps, which offer no purchase for zip-ties.
She had pretty much stopped coming into the yard after I secured the entire west wall, the back wall, and the front wall — many hundreds of feet, since the house occupies a quarter-acre lot. Some of the houses in this tract have tiny yards, basically just a walkway in the backyard. But the corner houses were built on surprisingly large lots…and this is one of ‘em.
How she found out about Duck, I do not know, but evidently the presence of a large, delicious meal nesting right on the ground was more than the damn cat could bear. Still, the other day’s foray was the first I’d seen of her inside the yard for several months.
A season’s absence of the damned cat has wrought some startling changes.
The most visible is the resurgence of birds and geckos, the voraciously insectivorous little lizards native to the Sonoran desert. The yard is alive with birds, from noisy, crowing (insectivorous!) grackles to the flying jewels that are (insectivorous!) hummingbirds, with every kind of tweety-bird and dove in between.
But the loveliest part is that these critters, the birds and the geckos that now find safety in the fortified backyard, EAT BUGS!
More to the point, they eat mosquitoes and they eat flies. This spring, when normally the house and yard would be overrun with the things, I’ve hardly seen any.
A year ago, I swatted over a dozen mosquitoes in the house one evening. They like to come to rest on the white ceilings, where they doze between meals. So at some times of day it’s easy to kill them. But this year, I’ve hardly had to whack at any of them. Nor have I been bit from head to toe…
And the flies? This morning I killed all of two (count’em, 2) with the electric fly swatter. That is astonishing. In the past, a half a dozen would zip in during the time it would take to let the dogs out and back in and to attend to the pool. One year we had some kind of fly bloom…I’ve never seen so many flies, and yes I do clean up after the dogs twice a day and no, none of the nearby neighbors still has a dog.
But Other Daughter has a damn cat.
Geckos eat massive numbers of insects. They eat mosquitoes. They eat flies. They eat crickets. They eat roaches. They eat grasshoppers. They eat worms. They eat any number of annoying, garden-chomping, disease-carrying, and unaesthetic bugs. I have not been kept awake half the night by a cricket in weeks and weeks. Happy day!
Birds eat most of those things, and many varieties eat ants.
We’ve had just one incursion from the Ant Queen’s Hordes this year. It was from a colony that set up under the deck, where the “organic” bug guy exterminated a hive of Africanized bees. Guess the guy was right that the stuff he used was relatively less harmful than standard products. Some DE sprinkled across the thresholds and around the entry to the ant nest moved the ants away from the house. But since the cat has been repelled, I haven’t seen a single out-of-control ant colony in the yard.
Getting rid of the cat has gotten rid of the insect pests.
Homotherium (scimitar-toothed cat): Cropbot at Wikipedia. CC BY 3.0
Gecko: shamelessly ripped off the Web.