Tag Archives: cats

Something’s Been Bugging Me…

This last week has been all about the bugs. Or, as my entomologist husband would say, it’s been all about the insects. As he has told me many times in the past, true bugs have sucking mouth parts. That being said, saying that something’s been insecting me doesn’t quite sound the same.

First off, at work our office has moved into a new building. And since it was being remodeled beforehand, the windows were always open. Which allowed plenty of insects egress into the building, where they happily set up shop. We have fruit flies, flies, gnats, ants, and a few cockroaches (which I admit, I also saw in Bricker Hall.) They are thinking about doing something to get rid of the little pests – I had one fruit fly that just flew around my head all day. Not a piece of fruit to be seen. I named him Fred.

Then on Friday night, we put some plants in my front garden because it was supposed to rain on Saturday, and I thought that would be the perfect time to get them all into the ground. Pete and I were nearly eaten alive by Asian tigers. We sprayed with Off! but the little blood suckers just laughed at it, finding the one centimeter of skin that hadn’t been coated. Of course, with dirty hands, swatting at them wasn’t the best thing to do. I finally gave up and swatted away; I looked like I had rolled in the dirt when I got inside.

As I was relaxing upstairs Saturday afternoon, Seamus, our cat, came up to lay on my lap, something he usually doesn’t do. I noticed he had all of this white stuff on his head, and in looking at it to try and figure out what it was, I noticed the white stuff was moving. I screamed at Pete, “Seamus has something alive crawling all over him!!” Pete took a sample under his microscope and declared Seamus had mites. As did Ciara. Walking dandruff is what it’s called. Of course, no vet was open, and all the on-line treatments were prescription only. Then, in combing a sample of the fur from the other cats, I found a flea. Of course, that meant that everyone had fleas. We were told at PetPeople in Clintonville to try diamaceous earth. It’s a very fine silica powder that somehow cuts the exoskeleton of fleas, drying them out and eventually killing them. It’s very safe to use. We sprinkled some on each cat and around the places they liked to lay, after washing everything we could. It seems to have worked on the mites – Pete saw some under the microscope, but they were all dead.

Today, I noticed that our burr oak’s leaves were looking a bit yellow and the red lace bugsoak’s leaves were turning brown. Turning over the leaves, I noticed lots (and I mean lots) of eggs and insects. Pete says they are lace bugs (you, know, the ones with the sucking mouth parts). Well, they certainly were sucking out the sap from those leaves. The red oak had more eggs that Pete couldn’t identify. Dang bugs – or insects! Or whatever.

Finally, has any noticed the lack of butterflies around, especially monarchs? Pete and I haven’t seen anythcabbage whiteing but a few black swallowtails, one tiger swallowtail, and one mourning cloak. We haven’t seen one monarch anywhere in Central Ohio. I’ve heard that the conditions for monarchs this year weren’t very good – storms and drought – as well as loss of habitat in Mexico. The only thing I’ve seen butterfly-wise are the cabbage whites, introduced from Europe.

We’ve got our new LOUA membership forms up – if you’d like to become a member, click here!

Until next time!

A Tale of Two Kitties

After all the happy news about our ribbon cutting, this post won’t be quite so upbeat. It’s a very difficult post to write because I love cats, and I love birds. In nature, cats and birds are enemies, as birds would be considered a food source in the wild. But here in Clintonville, we don’t have any feral cats that I know of, so for cats, birds become something to catch and play with and kill. They have a strong hunting instinct that kicks in even if they aren’t hungry.

We have several cats in our neighborhood who roam outside most of the day. I love cats and know that they will chase and catch anything they can. (Remember this post?) Some of the cats near us have bells on their collars that will warn away birds and other creatures like squirrels. I still remember one of the saddest sights from last year: a momma squirrel crying so forlornly, carrying her dead baby in her mouth. It had been attacked by a cat. I started to cry and just couldn’t stop. This year already, we’ve found several dead birds that had been killed by cats in our neighborhood. I have Pete bury them as I say a few words of love to speed them on their way to wherever they are going.

The best solution is for the cat owners to keep their cats inside, not only for the bird’s protection, but for the cat’s. I’ve come close several times to hitting a cat near our home. But if you are like us and have cats just coming into the yard (which we are trying to make a place that birds like to come and visit), then here are some suggestions on how we all can help our fine-feathered friends:

  • Have the cat wear a bell on its collar.
  • Keep claws trimmed to prevent climbing to get to birds.
  • If cats must go outdoors, do not leave them unsupervised, and do not allow them outside overnight, during early morning or other peak bird feeding times.
  • Keep bird feeders and bird baths at least five feet from shrubbery and cover that can conceal a stalking predator. Ideally, feeders should be 10-12 feet from potentially dangerous cover.
  • Check brush piles and shrubbery regularly for ground nests and fledgling birds that are most vulnerable to prowling cats.
  • Avoid using low feeders or ground feeders that make it easier for cats to capture wild birds. Clean up spilled seed regularly to minimize ground feeding birds.
  • Use plastic or metal poles to support feeders so cats’ claws cannot help them climb to the feeder. Baffles are another option to deter hunting cats.

I will leave you with this very sad photo taken in Glen Echo by Chris O’Leary. It’s an indigo bunting that was killed by a cat without a bell on its collar. I have never seen one of these beautiful birds (Pete has in the ravine), and I can tell you that this is not how I wanted to view this bird for the first time. It saddens me so.

Until next time.