Generally speaking, I like nature and being outside. Generally speaking, I prefer to let creatures be creatures. I feed the birds and don’t worry about the squirrels taking (more than) their share. Although insects hold no dear place in my heart, I try to keep my insecticide use to a minimum and keep it species specific and natural. Our neighborhood is home to feral peacocks that are loud and poopy. Bunny sightings have resulted in many a sore shoulder from the dog thinking he can catch one while on a leash. I try to exist in a live and let live world. Still, even I can be pushed to the breaking point, declaring a NIMBY (not in my backyard) war.
Battle Number One
It all started with a hole under the back fence. Which reappeared if we filled it in. Which grew into a tunnel if we just blocked the opening with a board or a pot. Do bunnies dig tunnels like that? Then there was a smaller hole in the front corner of the fence. Then there was the hole in the front garden bed against the foundation. It grew. It became more than a hole to look for food, it was a burrow. And then there were all the shallow holes appearing in the lawn and the flower beds, which the husband declared to be “triangular” — yup, we had an armadillo move in.
I can live with a hole or two, expect that we CAN NOT let the evil dog escape the back yard. Not that he wants to. Not that he has ever shown a tendency to dig himself. But we can’t risk him getting any ideas. I can live with a marauding armadillo helping himself to grubs in the beds and the lawn, especially since my flower beds are somewhat neglected and he wasn’t doing much damage. I can maybe live with a burrow against the foundation, but the thought of one armadillo turning into a family of armadillos was too much.
We learned some things. Armadillos are not deterred by humans filling in their holes. They are very good diggers. We realized that we might have even been sealing the armadillo in during the day only for it to dig out every night. Repeatedly. We were just giving it something to do.
We went to the internet to try to learn more. We learned that armadillos (like most animals) don’t like cayenne pepper. So we sprinkled cayenne pepper into holes and over filled in holes. We made cayenne pepper slurry and poured it into holes and over filled in holes and along fence lines and foundations, tho not where the dog could get accidentally get into it.
We learned that, apparently, our armadillo is a fan of tex-mex.
So we went to the hardware store to try to learn more. We bought a critter repellent that is made, in part, with rotten eggs. With some intrepidation we bought it. We were pleased to find out that it doesn’t smell as bad, to humans, as we feared. With no actual hope of success, we once again sprinkled and filled and sprinkled some more.
AND THE ARMADILLO HAS NOT RETURNED IN OVER A WEEK.
I don’t know which neighbor’s yard it relocated to, but I wish it all the best. They do eat grubs after all.
Battle Number Two
We had barely finished congratulating ourselves on our victory when a second battle front developed. The husband decided to give a large holly bush a much needed pruning. I decided it needed just a bit more and while I was working I noticed….bees. Yup, bees flying into a corner of our house between the siding on the upper story and the brick on the lower story. I called out the husband to share my observations. We looked at the bees, looked at each other, and knew it was time to head back to the internet.
This time, we did not go to the internet to learn. We went to the internet to hire a mercenary. Six days later, a bee remover/bee keeper arrived at the house.
This is what he uncovered:
We learned a lot from the bee dude. The husband would be happy to share all kinds of bee trivia with anyone who will listen. This hive had probably been there 4-5 weeks, they can make a honeycomb about the size of a hand in a day. It took him about five hours to remove the combs, vacuum up as many of the bees as he could (including the queen) and put our house back together.
We were the Saturday science project for the neighborhood, several families showing up to watch (from a distance) and ask questions. I was really interested, but I’m also allergic to bee stings so I hunkered inside and relied on the husband to make periodic reports.
Despite his best efforts, there were probably 100-200 bees sealed up in our house. We could hear them flying around in the wall. And they started appearing in the kitchen, possibly through a ceiling light fixture though we’re not sure. We’ve only see one today, on day 4, so I think the end is in sight. Bee dude estimates he collected around 10,000 bees, but there are probably another 1000 orphan bees that have mournfully gathered in a swarm mass near the now sealed entrance to their former hive and will just hang there until they die. The queen and the ones he collected were relocated to his bee farm (apiary?); I wish them all the best.
We saved a tiny piece of the honeycomb as a souvenir
Our neighbor took the rest, with our blessing, and squeezed over a gallon of honey out of it. He gave us a pint jar full. Which seems like a fair compensation for a Saturday science project…and maybe an armadillo.