Tuesday, June 23, 2015

death in the pool

Eight months ago, I moved away from the wild kingdom to my concrete courtyard.

I gave up quite a bit in the bargain.  No crocodiles.  No crabs.  No scorpions.  No turtles.  No leaf-cutter ants.  All of the life that enlivened my evenings for six years.

But the bargain was not quite that one-sided.  You may recall that I early on discovered that the Eiffel Tower in my backyard is a roost for turkey vultures.  That's pretty cool.  And I have the usual lizards, geckos, butterflies, dragonflies, bats, and cockroaches that visit most houses and yards in this part of Mexico.

Flying life was rather rare, though.  Birds fly across the house paying little notice of my sparse vegetation.

But I have one frequent flying visitor.  A hummingbird.  At least, I think it is just one hummingbird.  There is never more than one at a time.  That is not rare.  Hummingbirds are not very fond of competition.

He always announces his presence with a little beep after he sips from each cup of gold flower.  And it does not matter what I am doing in the courtyard, he will swoop around clockwise to each of the four corners to taste the vine candy paying little attention to me.

I think it was Friday when I noticed something different.  Instead of his junior road runner beep, he started chattering after each blossom.  I thought there must be a different type of bird in the trellis.  But it was just him.

Maybe he was just adding his personal commentary on sharing air space with other flyers.  Not birds.  Insects.

The day after the Carlos rainstorm hit, I noticed a lot more insects in the air.  Rain tends to do that.  To hatch out new swarms of insects.  Often, of the biting variety.

And most of them end up in my pool.  Take that beauty at the top of this piece.  At first, I thought it was a wasp.  But, it isn't.  She is a wasp cousin.  A queen ant.  She was on her way to start a new ant colony before crashing in my pool.  A leaf cutter ant colony, if I am not mistaken.  My sworn enemies.

But there is something about a creature drowning that touches my heart.  Probably, because I cannot stand to have my head under water.  So, I saved her.  She dried off, and headed off to do what queens do.

The surface of my pool is covered with the bodies of all variety of flying ant queens -- large, small, tiny.  And small wasps.  I watch the wasps collecting water on the edge of the pool.  Some drown.  Some fly off with their trophy.  To where?  I had no idea.

After last night, though, I do.  I still do not know why I was looking at the top of the vines in front of my bedroom door Sunday night.  But I was.  And then I saw it.  A wasp nest.  Covered with those little black wasps.

A local friend told me I should get rid of those nests as soon as I see them.  The wasps are small, but with a nasty sting.  Ironically, I have saved several of the wasps from drowning.  Sunday night, I blasted the nest with Raid.  (I am far too aware of the irony.)

Monday afternoon, I finished off the nest with another chemical attack.  When I opened it, it looked just as I expected.  A breeding ground for future wasps.  And quite beautiful in its construction.

Before you lecture me that the wasps have a large role in pollination and they are beneficial in controlling the caterpillar population, I already know that.  And even though I am not allergic to bee stings, my brother is.  So, my house remains a sting-free zone.

OK.  It is not as exciting as a story about crocodile babies, but it is life,  And it is the life I now lead.  In my pool that entombs more royal blood than Westminster Abbey.


No comments: