Deep in the darkness of one summer night, we woke up to a great horned owl hooting in our backyard. We lay silently for quite a while listening to the soft voice echo across the darkness. https://www.audubon.org/news/can-you-recognize-call-great-horned-owl
It’s one thing to feel safe in your house and listen to nature carrying on outside. It’s quite another when you find yourself unexpectedly in an uncomfortable encounter.
When was the last time a wasp flew into your kitchen? If you’re anything like me, it wasn’t a peaceful meeting…in fact, you pulled out the insecticidal soap and sprayed the living daylights out of it. And then when it didn’t die, you—like me—just went out to dinner. Because…obviously…you couldn’t cook dinner in a room with a wasp…obviously.
So…it might seem odd that I would be the one to say ‘…don’t be afraid of going out into your backyard.’…’cuz there are bugs out there…
A Busy Universe
For some reason, bugs in the yard don’t bother me. I think they’re fascinating…because they belong there. I feel like I’m the guest, but I don’t like reciprocating the invitation. I have no intention of inviting them into my home.
Of course, millions of microscopic bugs and other teensy-weensy critters live with us in our homes. But I’m not bothered by them either—only the ones that are the size of a Hot Wheel.
Like a wasp in my kitchen…or the box elder bugs in my bedroom. This past Fall, I was killing 1-2 per day throughout November. We finally killed the last one—using the old-fashioned method of paper towel and squashing.
But….never squash a bee! I don’t understand the science of it…but when a bee is crushed, it releases an “alarm pheromone” and the rest of the hive swarms in its defense. So…we don’t want that…obviously.
The fear of bees keeps a lot of people out of their yards. If you’re new to gardening, this might be a reason for your hesitation.
Bees, in fact, do have an acute sense of smell. So when you go into your yard, leave the perfume in the bottle on your dresser. Only wear the kind that comes out of a can labeled ‘repellent.’ I slather it on pretty generously.
Sure, there are lots of ‘bad’ bugs…’bad’ because they eat the plants we don’t want them to eat. In those cases, use insecticidal soap.
Weird of me to recommend this when it didn’t work on that wasp. Turns out, I made it in such a hurry–in my fear of the wasp–that I completely forgot that I should have used Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap. Dish soap doesn’t work…Here’s a recipe for making it correctly.
We use insecticidal soap because many commercial pesticides—in general—kill too many things, and we lose the balance of bugs that we need. There are other safe pesticides…but I’ll leave those for another day.
We’re not the only ones who need bugs. My daughter sent me a video of baby robins in a wisteria vine that climbs across her front porch. Before they discovered the nest, John wanted to tear the vine down…but something about those baby robins may have saved it for one more year.
The grandkids now watch the mother bird feed her babies every day. What would mommy do if the humans had no bugs in their yard?
As for the grandparents, we didn’t hear that great horned owl again after that first night. And when I told the story to another commuter on the train platform, he whistled softly and said, “It’s times like that when you feel like all is right with the world.”
About a week later, I noticed that the rabbits that had been eating my flowers were gone. Weeks later, we watched a hawk visit our ash tree for a couple days. Then we noticed that the chipmunk family was gone. They were cute like the bunnies, but noisy…and as I realized they were absorbed into the natural cycle of things, I was perfectly at peace .
Share stories of natural rhythms in your own backyard below!Lizel Snyman De Gouveia Brian Kraus