Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Who you gonna call when the bugs invade? August 25, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:33 AM
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Because I did not get a photo of the female cardinal, I am showing you a photo of a male cardinal taken by my friend Harriet Traxler, an excellent photographer. Scroll to the end of this story for more info about Harriet's work.

CRAZIEST THING HAPPENED Wednesday morning as I hung laundry outside on the clothesline. I heard a scritch-scratch and looked up to see a female cardinal fluttering atop the metal chimney on our house. She would fly away, come back, land on the stack, fly away and then repeat the entire process.

I was baffled until I noticed a spider web the size of a car tire suspended between the chimney and the angled roof.

As I watched, wishing mightily that I had my camera in my hands, the cardinal flew toward the center of the cobweb where, even from the ground, I could see an oversized insect. Maybe the spider?

She flapped and hovered and poked at the web, trying to grab her breakfast.

About then I decided I had enough time to race inside to my office, grab my Canon and snap a picture. I was wrong. In the short time I went missing, the determined bird nabbed the trapped bug. Darn.

Have you ever seen anything like this?

AS LONG AS WE’RE TALKING BUGS, has your home been invaded by gnats—or whatever they are—which are attracted in the evening to flicked-on lights. Tuesday night, when I walked into the kitchen around 9, I found the floor pocked with these pesky winged creatures. I immediately summoned my husband.

“What am I supposed to do?” he asked.

I pulled a sexist comment from my brain: “You’re the man of the house. Protect me.”

He laughed, then laughed some more when I suggested sweeping them into a dustpan.

“They’ll fly away,” he said, wheeling out the vacuum cleaner, a bug’s version of an EF-5 tornado.

EARLIER IN THE EVENING my spouse saved me from two wasps wandering a window screen in the dining room, directly behind the chair where I dine.

“I don’t want to get stung,” I emphasized, reminding him of how my skin swells and itches every time a mosquito bites me. “What do you think would happen if I was stung by a wasp?”

He probably didn’t need the reminder as less than two weeks ago my right hand swelled to about twice its size (I might be exaggerating just a tiny bit, but not much) from two mosquito bites. That resulted in a trip to the doctor followed by a stop at the pharmacy. Those two bites set me back a couple hundred bucks. But at least the infection didn’t spread to my artificial hip, which would have cost me thousands.

Anyway, bottom line, my husband’s done a superb job as my personal Bug Buster. And whenever he’s not available, I have that cardinal as back-up.

FYI: Except for centipedes, I am not afraid of bugs and will deal with them whenever I must. However, I will avoid killing stinging insects if my bug-busting husband is available. Why risk getting stung?

VISIT THE BARNS OF SIBLEY COUNTY website by clicking here to learn more about Harriet Traxler, her photography and the barn books she’s published. She is also currently working on a book of historical fiction.

© Text copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photo by Harriet Traxler


4 Responses to “Who you gonna call when the bugs invade?”

  1. What a pleasant surprise for me this morning when I opened up your blog as I generally do first thing every morning and see one of my photos featured on your site again. Thank you for your generous and kind words. I have never seen a cardinal trying to have lunch off a spider web. That had to be quite a sight.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I’m happy to feature your photos, Harriet, as your images are not only technically-well done, but also just plain lovely.

      And, yes, it was quite a sight to watch that cardinal. I only wished I hadn’t missed the moment she snatched the bug.

  2. Bernie Says:

    I must admit that I spit out my diet coke reading this: “You’re the man of the house. Protect me.” I just can’t see you saying that without laughing.

    We have an awful grasshopper season. Roy wants to get chicken’s next year to eat them. I don’t think the neighbors would care for it.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Well, I HAD to say something funny since I’d gotten the husband up from his recliner because I wanted him to see ALL those bugs on the kitchen floor. 🙂 I could easily have disposed of the insects myself but I was so floored (pun intended) by the sheer numbers.

      Sorry for making you spit our your diet Coke. 🙂

      As for those chickens, you could start a new trend. Chickens are the “in” thing here in Minnesota, especially in “the Cities.” Two of my Minneapolis-dwelling cousins got chickens about a year ago. They threatened to name one Audrey knowing how much I dislike chickens. I’ll take bugs any day over chickens.

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