Where Moth Doth Corrupt

This Yrs Garden and Weed Farm

…and slugs do slither under the bare feet of the wicked. I’m serious. Somehow, more than once, orange (yet again!) slugs have appeared–or been found underfoot–on the hardwood floor of the greatroom.

This is not an experience that leaves one’s psyche untrodden. It’s bad enough that they compete (with a host of other potential invertebrate herbivores) for the garden produce. But mucoid muscular mollusks do not belong between one’s toes.

Forgive me, but I am whining the buggy blues this morning, driven in from the increasingly-verdant garden (as you can see in the picture–click to enlarge) by pests previously unknown to Goose Creek.

Once, the first summer we were here (2000) I looked down to see a trickle of blood weeping down my calf while I picked suckers off the tomatoes. This year, it happens every time I go out to work within the gulag garden-fence. We have black flies.

And we have no-see-ums. Occasionally  in past summers when the winds bring them from the coast, we’ve had a few. We have more than a few. They make me break out in welts. They love to graze my scalp, breaching the boundary of my widebrimmed hat, kicking while bitting like a cat with their spikey little feet, especially when I am helpless to swat, what with wet grass and mulch on my fingers.

The plain old ordinary gnats I used to complain about are still doing their part, to be sure–diving for ear drums and conjunctiva, with the occasional kamikaze strike to nasal or oral targets. PatttoooWeee!

Even so, the tomatoes are setting fruit, none ripe quite yet. The beans are almost all to the top of the cattle panels (8 feet) and flowering. We may, after all, replenish the canning we have depleted, and come September, be done with the Climate Chaos Critters that may be the new regulars of summer.

And oh, BTW, for you heathens, the title is from the Bible.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. Matthew 6:19

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Fred, do you think all the rain we’ve been having has something to do with the increase in insects? I’ve noticed more, too.

  2. I’m thinking maybe more to do with the milder winters here that leaves more survivors and increase in the southern flow patterns we have not had very much of in recent summers that brings in southern adults on the winds. We would have given anything for a stream of western gulf of Mexico moisture the summers of 2002 through 2004 and it just did not happen.

  3. Yea, as I walk through the valley of the slugs….. I’ve even had to swipe them off my dachshund’s ears this summer. The biting midges have been awful, leaving me with huge itchy welts. I’m tired of them venturing into my ear canals.

    While my squash are doing great with the rain and the warmth, late blight has popped up on tomatoes in Floyd and Montgomery Counties this week. I lost all of my tomato plants to it last year and just found it on one plant last night. Agriculture is not for the faint of heart.

  4. We live in the same county, but the animal/insect infestations appear to be different where I live — 10 minutes south of the stoplight. No orange slugs here; just the usual brownish slugs. Mostly outdoors, but one or two each Summer make their way onto the kitchen floor.

    However, two years ago I saw the first stink bug, ever. Now they not only invade the upstairs of my house (for a month or so), but there’s a new insect this Summer that I’ve never seen before. Like the stink bug, it seems to come in through the gaps in this old house. It doesn’t bite, but is a major nuisance in terms of numbers.To determine what it is, I think I’ll have to take a specimen to Virginia Tech. Or maybe to the Floyd Country Store. Likely, someone there would be able to identify it. [I’m not sure Woody would appreciate me bringing an insect into the store, however! 🙂 ]

    It seems to me that these significant changes in infestations in a span of just 13 years since I moved to Floyd County have to be due to climate change. Until two or three years ago, the only home infestations I experienced were what we call “lady bugs.” Perhaps that’s not the official name, but that’s what they look like.

    Sorry about the orange slugs. The yuck factor of slugs between the toes — inside your own home — sounds fairly unpleasant!

  5. OK, Fred. I need to mail you my husband’s “bug shirt.” What’s your mailing address? It has a hood with a fully enclosed mesh face. He only used it once, on Jekyull Island in Georgia in the spring of 2004, on a bike ride. We are staying west of the Rockies from now on, and don’t intend to encounter bugs ever again!