And welcome to the folk from Oz, US, UK, Germany and South Korea - how lovely of you to read my attempts at a blog. Please feel free to leave comments!
First a bow to the worries of fires while Oz cooks gently... Last night a line of storms came up from the south, lightning everywhere. I was concerned because lightning strikes are a major cause of fires and we had been told any storms would be 'dry'. However, after a stressful half hour, suddenly there came rain, blessed rain. It gave us 9mm before heading off north. The air may still have felt like a sauna but the risk of fires was gone for the night.
Now to the ants, referred to back on the snake page. I have decided that rather than being the year of the snake it is actually the year of the ant, including the strange invaders that appear from absolutely nowhere.
Supposedly you can trace ants to whence they came, but not these little fellows. They appear from nowhere, say on a used plate, where they congregate in their hundreds. Move the plate and there is no ant trail. I have a theory that they actually parachute in, using a sensor to locate their landing field. It is impossible to eradicate them because you cannot locate a nest, or a spacecraft, whence they came. All you can do is murder the squads as they appear and wait for the next incursion.
I used to quite like ants and admire the overall intelligence of their colonies, but no more. The home invaders are annoying, but worse are the various outside ants this year. Clearly baking hot, dry summers are just what is needed to take over the world. H.G.Wells had it right with his story long ago - they are out to get us! It started in spring, when the wood ants, that build huge colonies and then clear all vegetation in their area, decided that broad beans were on their menu. It was impossible to check on the beans without having a swarm of the ants run over your arms, very cranky because you had disturbed them. They also decided that they needed to build a nest under the beans to make the most of their bounty. Dumping my idealistic concept of organic vegetables with no nasty chemicals, I bought various noxious dusts which would temporarily halt the pests so I could at least harvest some produce.
As summer has progressed so the varieties of ants invading have multiplied. The wood ants returned and killed all my potato plants - ha, I found they don't like constant flooding, so drowned their nest there. Then they returned and decided to attack me whenever I appeared. This bears out my observation on their communal intelligence - they never attacked me until I declared war on their invading hordes. I upped the ante and treated the nearest major nest, pouring the poison powder direct into their chimneys. That has bought me some peace, but I have no illusion it will be for long.
Other ants that have posed lesser threats are some extremely tiny ones that seem to be taking advantage of the absence of the wood ants... they have merely appeared around the place without doing any obvious damage apart from rather unsightly nests placed just where one wants to walk! Then, the leaf-cutting fraternity have also waded in big, leaving confetti under all the young eucalypts. So it goes - definitely the year of the ant!