Unwelcome critters can ruin outdoor enjoyment
The arrival of warm weather and the migration to get outdoors after the winter is over is an annual ritual long enjoyed by the people of New Hampshire. Extended daylight hours, milder weather and an atmosphere that begs for cooking on the grill is finally here after the darkness and cold chill of winter. As the old saying goes – happy days are here again.
With the arrival of pleasant weather you will also notice a return of the many critters that cohabit our little corner of this planet. Many are harmless, some are entertaining to observe, and a few are obnoxious in their potential impact on our enjoyment of being outside. Certainly sitting and watching songbirds building a nest and tending to their young can put a smile on your face. Standing knee deep in a favorite trout stream early in the morning listening to the wake-up calls around you as nature’s neighbors begin their day will certainly give you a fresh approach to life. The drab, stillness of winter now gives way to the sights and sounds of a rebirth of a new season and all that it offers.
The potential downside to this pleasantry is the return of certain obnoxious creatures that seem to assimilate themselves back into our lives despite our objections to the contrary. They can be of the stinging variety such as hornets, wasps, yellow jackets and bees, the biting group of spiders, and the blood sucking pests such as black flies, ticks and mosquitoes. They all seem to come easily to mind without giving much thought to the matter at hand. We’ll look at a few other problem children as we progress through the most common and most likely to encounter creatures on our list.
Stinging insects are avoidable – unless – you stumble on a nest, interfere with their food source or disturb their existence by trying to eradicate them. In the case of this group of pests an uncomfortable sting usually accompanies a close encounter and for most of us a little application of any after sting product or an ice pack can take away the pain in short order. Being allergic to their sting is quite a different matter and can have life threatening results. If you are of the latter group of humans it is imperative that you seek medical help immediately upon being stung. Any symptom beyond localized pain and a slight redness at the sting site should be a warning that things are not right and you need to take action to help yourself.
The creepy, crawly members of the arachnid family are so prevalent in our lives that we have a tendency to look beyond them as we go about our chores both inside and outside the home. For the most part, the spiders of this part of New England are furtive, reclusive creatures that work at not being discovered or observed. They choose (for the most part) out of the way places to hide and ambush their prey, but unfortunately they can be seen when least expected. This usually leads to shrill screams or reactive movements far out of proportion to their potential to create mayhem. All spiders are poisonous but the varieties we encounter here in our neck of the woods have little potential for harming us with their venom unlike their fellow species from down in the warmer climates.
The really bad actors of the spider family cannot take our cold winters so they stay on vacation in places like Florida, Texas or Arizona.
A fellow arachnid with the potential to truly upset our lives unfortunately lives right out in our backyards. I’m talking about ticks, both the common dog tick and the diminutive deer tick. Both of these eight legged little blood suckers have the very real potential to carry Lyme disease and in some cases Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Lyme disease is the one issue we really need to be concerned about as the potential of this disease can be life altering to the extent of debilitating and even death. There is no fooling around here – this small insect can carry a king sized dose of trouble. It is my strong personal recommendation that anyone bitten by one of them should contact their doctor immediately. The test for Lyme is a simple blood test and when discovered early it is quite curable with basic antibiotics.
I have to address another ill thought of critter here because so many people I talk to have such an adverse reaction to even seeing one. I am referring to the lowly snake.
Ever since Eve and the snake tempted Adam with the apple there has been contempt for this poor creature. Not Eve – but the snake. Here in New Hampshire we have only one area of concern with a snake that is potentially a problem for humans. The Timber Rattlesnake, which is an endangered species, and, to the best of my knowledge and that of the folks at Fish and Game, seems to be surviving only in a certain area of southern New Hampshire. They are a protected species and if encountered, the F&G people should be contacted – it is unlawful to kill one. All the other snake varieties (there are 10 total) here in the Granite state are harmless and will not harm you in any way.
Like any wild creature, if you encounter a snake just leave it alone and I can guarantee it will do likewise with you.
Gordon Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.