The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah! They seemingly come out of the woodwork in the spring and get busy with their work of scouting out food. It’s okay in the woods, but when they are marching in a line to a food source inside a home, it’s quite annoying.
The first worker ant that finds the food leaves a scented trail back to the colony so other workers can follow the exact trail until the food source is completely consumed or no longer available. There are multiple natural ways to eliminate ants including pepper, white vinegar and glass cleaner — smells that remove the ants’ scented pheromone trail.
As refreshing as the arrival of spring is, besides ants, it also brings along other hazards and vexations. Following are a few of them.
If you are allergic to pollen, beware of the spring release by trees, grasses and weeds. My arm lit up like a bad case of hives when I was allergy tested. Every tree, grass and weed tested produced a histamine response — except pine. Fortunately, pine trees are like weeds in Mazama. Watch out for the cedar trees that waft out that layer of yellow stuff covering everything with a dusting of nasty pollen. Burning, itchy red eyes, runny nose and sneezing all send the alert that allergy season is here.
Fresh morel mushrooms can garner a price tag of $30 per pound and up (way up!). Wild morels have a delicious earthy flavor that makes them one of the most sought-after mushrooms by home cooks and professional chefs alike who love to put them in special dishes in the spring. I grew up “hunting” morels with my dad in Montana. We called them sponge mushrooms, and there wasn’t a better delicacy than my mom breading and frying them into crunchy, earthy, yummy poppers. Pair them with a batch of filleted perch, ahh. But, what’s the hazard — the morel lookalikes.
On my recent hike up Spokane Gulch, I spied what looked like a morel, but it was a little odd looking — not the perfect cone shape of a morel, but still with a sort-of sponge like appearance. Actually, it looked more like a squashed, wrinkled brain. Turns out the lookalike was the toxic gyromitra esculenta, one of several common species of false morels found in the spring about the same time as true morels, especially in the soil beneath pine trees. Don’t be fooled. This mushroom can kill you or at the very least make one very ill.
A combination of saturated soil and wind can create another spring hazard — uprooted trees and broken off branches. One must always beware of the potential.
This one is a totally unexpected and unexplained mystery. Nonchalantly walking across our driveway, the thawing ground gave way under my footstep, and I found myself up to my knee in a sinkhole. I thought sinkholes were only found in Florida where they swallow up cars and houses — not in Mazama in our driveway. Had I been scurrying along, my knee may have snapped with the impact of such a freak fall. Not so sure anyone else has to worry about a sinkhole; but then neither did I.
Other hazards of spring include pine needles, dirty cars, mole tunnels, sore muscles from spring clean-up, and snow mold. However, I didn’t think about this one from the point of view of a sheep until I saw BCS Livestock’s flock of newly shorn sheep. Nice and cozy in their wool coats throughout the winter, in one fell swoop, they were all sheared. Already embarrassed by their new fashion statement, insult to injury, the temperature dropped with last week’s cold spell and there they stood — naked as a jaybird. I didn’t detect any shivering in their boots, though.
New spring arrivals: first hummingbird and first bumblebee.