ShadyGardens Blog

March 6, 2014

Did our Severe Cold Winter kill the Bugs?

Filed under: Alabama, cold, freezing, Georgia, mosquitoes, severe, ticks — shadygardens @ 4:26 pm
When temperatures were in the 20’s, teens, and even the single digits so many times this Winter, I felt like it would kill off some of the bugs. I’ve heard many people say, “At least we won’t have so many mosquitoes, ticks, and flies this summer!”

Our Birdbath stayed frozen for days
Well, I’m afraid that just isn’t so. Ask any old-timer, and they will tell you the bugs will still be here when temperatures warm up. I didn’t have to ask an old-timer, because early this morning I found a tick latched on under my clothes. And it has been cold outside this week! 
My father told me of a spider he observed from his front sitting room window during the coldest period this Winter. When night time temperatures were 7 degrees and day-time warm ups crept just to the 20’s, the spider remained curled up in a ball, appearing to be lifeless. But when the weather warmed up, the spider would slowly begin wiggling as if waking up from a long nap. Once he seemed satisfied that it was sufficiently warm enough to get to work, the spider would get busy rebuilding his web. 
According to entomologist Xing Ping Hu, research professor with Auburn University, the reason insects are so resilient is that they have adapted strategies for surviving the cold. Hu pointed out that both of our coldest states, Alaska and Minnesota, are bothered by mosquitoes during the summer, so why would mosquitoes be affected by the freezing temperatures in Alabama and Georgia? Yellow Jackets are the only insect population that might be affected here, because they are susceptible to the cold. (See That will probably be good news to all the runners who were stung during the Boy Scout Troop Trail Trek in West Point last Fall.

February 10, 2009

Guineas in the Garden

Filed under: garden, gardening, guinea, guineafowl, guineas, Lyme, tick bite, ticks — shadygardens @ 7:08 pm

My 8 year old little boy has been removing his own ticks for about 3 years now. When tick bites are so common that a 5 year old begins removing ticks on his own, it’s time to do something! But what? We tried everything. Really. But what works?

Our garden is much too large to make pesticide application affordable, but we did try that, before the chickens joined our family. We just can’t remember to apply insect repellent every time we go outside, and that also gets expensive when you spend all day outdoors as we do.

A few years ago when our little girl received an Easter gift of 2 baby chicks, we thought that might help. And really, it has…some. But after my husband was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, we realized the seriousness of the situation. It terrifies me to know that one of my children could encounter that dreaded disease that leads to a life of joint problems.

Last fall an adored friend of ours gave us a gift for which we are very grateful. He hatched out for me 4 Guineas! (He hatched them in an incubator.) I’ve been told ticks are a favorite treat for guineas, and they will eat hundreds of them. We’re so excited, and we’ll let you know in the summer if we see a decrease in the number of ticks latched on to our tender areas!

I must tell you that I don’t know much about Guineas, but I have found a wonderful site that is a wealth of information on Guineas, including some very entertaining photos and captions. It’s worth your time to take a look at I don’t know the author personally, but on her site you can learn all about guineas, because after all, she wrote the book on Gardening With Guineas! (Yes, really–you can order it from her website!)

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