2014-05-21 / Loose Ends

The perils of gardening

Susan Nienow

The score is 20 to 1, gnats vs. me. They love me. Yesterday I was dinner and today Mother’s Day brunch. If others are bothered by these seasonal pests but aren’t bitten, they have me to thank for that. The gnats are quite satisfied by the time they leave here.

They are sneaky, too. When I wear long pants and long sleeves, they get my ears. When I wear a hat, they go after my ankles. When I use bug spray they head for the line where I stopped spraying because they couldn’t possibly get that spot.

I have worn sheets of Bounce in my visor, my pockets, my socks and my shirts. I looked something like a slightly off-kilter scarecrow from “The Wizard of Oz.” And, it didn’t work.

I wore a plastic bracelet infused with anti-bug stuff and carried a pocket-sized spray that I used up the first time I tried it. They didn’t work either.

I go out early in the morning before the bugs are out. They come after me. I try after sunset before it gets totally dark, but the mosquitos are out then. They also bite me but I don’t really react much to their bites.

I don’t mean to sound paranoid, but really, we could win a war if we drafted these little critters. They are either really smart or there are so many of them, they can’t help but find me. I try the sun then the shade. Their preference is me.

One thing I have noticed is that they don’t follow me into the garage. And they aren’t in the screened porch either. The problem is that I can’t really garden from there.

There is a basic unfairness to this. They don’t bite my other half. Oh, occasionally, some errant gnat will bite him, but he doesn’t react to the bites. Really unfair.

When I get to the point where I am too busy swatting to get any gardening done, I give up and head inside to shower. Unfortunately, those bites will plague me for a week.

In addition to the gnats, the horseflies come out in midsummer. They chase. And their bites are nasty – much worse than gnat bites. Of course, they are much larger than gnats. They don’t bite my other half either. In fact, he’s not sure they even exist. A horsefly that chases?

The terms horsefly and gnat are strictly my own. I have no idea what these voracious pests really are. When I tell people about them, they nod like they know what I am talking about. They could be humoring me. I can get quite animated when I talk about gnats.

Once I have a bug on me, it makes me itch all over and imagine there are lots of them. There is probably a name for this psychological phenomenon.

If I had lots of help in the garden, I wouldn’t have to be out there so much. Any volunteers? Just call me if you love to pull weeds.

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