When asked to give a list of greatest fears, most people start off with the standard list: Heights, Spiders, snakes, Dying, and all that stuff. Rarely do they think of fire ants. For those of you who are lucky enough to be unaware of the existence of those little buggers, allow me to enlighten you. Fire ants are almost the exact same as other ants, except worse. Instead of being black and looking friendly because all they want to do is find food to take back to their families, these minions of Satan are red and just want to invoke pain upon the innocent.
You see, although they seem too small to inflict any pain, when irritated fire ants sting and can cause extreme pain and irritation. When infected, the sting of a fire ant can become infected and will form pustule’s and will cause scarring. They are called fire ants not only for their flame like color, but also because of the feeling their sting can leave with you.
Now that you have a solid background on fire ants, allow me to share with you the scene that seemed to come straight out of a horror movie. My aunt Sharon, who recently passed bless her sole, had a frightful encounter of her own with fire ants. A few years ago Sharon began to get awful rashes all over her body, her doctor was unsure of what was causing the mysterious rashes began to treat her for allergies. After several weeks of the allergy medications had no affect, she decided to get her bed inspected by a pest control specialist for bed bugs. Good news: there was no sign of bed bugs. Bad news: Her bed had become a nest of fire ants. They had migrated from a main colony in the attic and were using her bed as a stopping point for food. Sharon immediately threw away her mattress and was sure to get her fire ant infestation taken care of as soon as possible.
On more than one occasion, I’m sure you’ve heard the term urban, so what does it mean? The definition of urban says “relating to, or characteristic of a city or town” So now I want to present an idea to you, the readers. One that you may be unfamiliar with. Urban Wildlife. Maybe you’ve heard this term before, maybe you haven’t. But I’m here to talk a little about what urban wildlife is, and how it affects you. Urban wildlife can be found anywhere that supports human life. Just in case you aren’t sure what some good examples are, raccoons, rats, pigeons, mice, and squirrels could all be considered urban wildlife. Think about how often you’ve seen raccoons digging through the dumpster in a back alley, or a squirrel snitching some food off of the ground in front of a trendy food truck. Many people wouldn’t consider this wildlife, in fact, to many people they are simply vermin. You even see animals like deer attempting to cross a busy road, so now I’ve got you thinking, what has this got to do with me? Well, pal, I’ve got news for you, you play a major part in this whole urban wildlife mess.
An increase in the number of wildlife encounters you have could come from a number of factors. A few of those reasons could be habitat loss, noise or light pollution, pollution, or invasive species. This could mean you run into more less than friendly faces while you’re out and about during the day. Fortunately, there are ways you can help minimize the damage this might cause. You can start by locking all of your outdoor garbage cans. This might not seem like a large thing, but having a source for food could draw more unwanted pests. You should also regularly dispose of fallen fruit, use spill-proof birdfeeders, and keep your pets indoors at night. This will do a lot to protect your property. Remember, most of these animals have adapted to be able to handle human encounters, so don’t be afraid to call for extra back up from trained professionals if things get out of hand.
It was a typical Tuesday afternoon, I had returned to my dorm room after a long day of classes and labs. Okay, I had two classes and one lab, but for a college student, that’s a lot. Anyways, that is most definitely not what this story is about. I had returned home, and all I was looking forward to was taking a nice three-hour nap before I had to go to work. I had it timed out perfectly so that by the time I got home and actually fell asleep I would be able to sleep for three hours and have 45 minutes to get ready for work and get there with ten minutes to spare. As a med student, this hardly ever happened. Unfortunately, my dreams were about to be crushed. I walked into my dorm to see my roommate quietly studying in the other room, headphones in. Peace and quiet, just what I needed. I had just put my bag down and fell onto my bed when all the sudden: RATTATATATATATAT!!! I shot up in my bed, what on earth was that sound?! I walked over and peeked into my roommate’s bedroom, but he was still diligently studying. Deciding it was probably just someone passing by, I went back to my bed to resume my nap. I couldn’t have been asleep for more than a few minutes when again I heard: RATATATATATA. I jumped up out of my bed and marched out into the hallway to see if some passing frat boy was just being dumb, but no one was there. I resumed my spot on the bed, this time staying diligent, with the intent of catching whoever was making the sound. I was only silent for a few moments and again came the sound RATATATATAT. It was coming from outside my window! I ran to the window and threw it open and when I looked down, I identified my attacker. It was a red and black spotted woodpecker. The bird looked up at me, I was sure it felt guilty about drilling into the stucco of my dorm building. Because I knew just how destructive woodpeckers could be, I immediately called our building attendant to take care of the mess. Unfortunately, I never got my nap.
Starlings are considered to be some of the most breathtaking birds on the planet. With their vibrant coloring and gregarious personalities. They’re highly social birds, they often travel in large flocks. Some roosts can number in the thousands of birds. But, we are not to talk about the species as a whole. Although they are an incredible group of birds, we are going to focus on one in particular. Her name was Satine. She was the Star of all the Starlings.
She had the signature iridescent plumage of starlings, but hers was a deep royal blue that stood out against some of the more gray feathers of some of her counterparts. She flew between many flocks throughout the year. Touring the world and meeting other starlings. After a while they began to talk about this beautiful blue bird with a talent unlike any other. Most starlings can imitate multiple other bird calls. But Satine was different. For in her travels, she learned to imitate nearly 25 different species. She also learned to mimic some sounds from the human world. She mimicked ringing phones, and police whistles. Word of her talent spread across the world and soon, birds from all over asked her to teach them her ways.
She began to travel the globe, teaching starlings from all over how to sing the song of others. She became known as “Satine the Starling Star”. She was hailed and soon became a name known to every starling on the planet. As she got older, her song began to fade. She began to lose her imitations. One by one she lost the sounds she had learned. She continued to lose them until she only had one song left. It was her original song. And although it was nothing compared to the sounds she once sang, it became her signature. Instead of focusing on what she had lost, she became focused on teaching the starlings how to discover their own song. A tradition that many starlings still carry on today. She was the mother of the starling song. The beautiful Satine, The Starling Star.
There are pigeons nesting on my solar panels, and I can’t stop them. Imagine this: you have spent years working to build a greener lifestyle for yourself, you drive a Prius, you recycle, and you work and save for 3 years to buy yourself a $15,000 Solar Panel system that you’ve been dreaming of since you were 16 when you wrote a report on the development of cleaner energy. Then, one day, after a trip home to your parent’s house, you come home to find 23 pigeons happily roosting, crapping, and tarnishing your beautiful and expensive solar panels. Would you be distressed, angry, or sad? OR WOULD YOU BE ALL OF THE ABOVE BECAUSE I AM!
Two weeks ago, these stupid flying rats began to roost on my solar panels, defecating all over them and building their nests underneath them. I couldn’t believe it! I trying installing small bird spikes along the edges of the solar panels but that didn’t deter them one bit, and the reflective tape I put up there didn’t do jack-squat either. I’m not sure that loud music or anything like that will do any permanent damage but that’s my next move. I know that trapping would be the most obvious solution, but my problem is that I don’t know what to do with them once I’ve got them trapped. I’m all about the environment, so I don’t think I would be able to shoot them, but I know releasing them would mean they just returned?
The best thing to do is call in a professional, and I know that whatever price there is to pay won’t for pigeon control wouldn’t even compare to the bill I would get if I had to do serious repairs to the solar panels. The problem is that I’d prefer to solve this on my own and save all my money all together (which is implausible, I know). But you know what they say, if wishes were horses beggars would ride. I’ll eventually have to man up and call in the professionals, and probably sooner rather than later; personally I think the world would be better off without pigeons and their pointless pigeon problems.
I’m Snow White. That’s the only reasonable explanation to the raccoons in my house, and the birds in my closet, and all the rest of my childhood wildlife encounters. When I was little I was always the person that animals trusted, no matter what. Dogs didn’t bark at me, cats wanted to lay on my lap, and deer would walk up to me for snacks. Everywhere I went, some kind of animal seemed to follow. Which is actually why I ended up studying Wildlife Ecology in college, but that’s a completely different story than the ones I want to tell.
Two years ago, when I was a junior in college, I woke up to a bird chirping and it was beautiful. But when I went downstairs for breakfast, came back up, and could still here the chirping, I got a little worried. I looked outside my window to see if there was an injured bird but there was nothing there. Then the chirping started again, except now I knew it wasn’t from outside, but inside of my closet. Inside of the air vent that connected to my room through the closet, was a small bird’s nest that contained two small birds. Well we got that sorted out fairly quickly and sealed the hole from the outside that let the bird in from the first place and that was that.
Except apparently that wasn’t that, my at-home wildlife visits wouldn’t end there. Now, I’m starting my Master’s program and moving into an off campus apartment by myself; I actually just started staying here myself two days ago. This morning I woke up and went to the bathroom to start my morning routine a little earlier than usual. While brushing my teeth I heard a muffled sound coming from the empty bottom drawer of the vanity; I pulled it open to find four baby raccoons huddled together, and mewing softly. I absolutely couldn’t believe it! In what world do you find baby raccoons in your bathroom vanity! In my world, I guess. But they can’t stay – I’m already looking for someone to come and safely remove them, but man what a story I have to tell my professors.
I have a SEVERE woodpecker problem. I don’t know what it is about my red, cedar house but woodpeckers love it. About 6 years ago is when my problem hit its peak, I had about 40 holes that had to be filled and repaired and I was able to get a special permit to kill the woodpecker that was doing all the damage because nothing else worked. Since then, I’ve seen woodpeckers in the trees around town and occasionally on a neighbor or friend’s home, but I have been woodpecker free; until now.
Three weeks ago, I left on a vacation for Hawaii with my daughter and her family. When I got back, I was mortified at what I found. My (practically) long-forgotten woodpecker problem had started up again. I could visibly see 4 new holes just on the front face of my house, and one of them obviously held a nest. Can you imagine the feeling of seeing thousands of dollars you’d invested into your home, the investment crumbling in front of your eyes as the problem resurfaced? I hope you feel just a percentage of my horror and understand why I am in such a rush to get this taken care of.
I cannot, no, I WILL not let this happen again. I have already hung up reflectors and streamers as close to the holes as I can get alone, and have a Wildlife Technician that specializes in woodpecker problems coming out later this week to start on more deterrents. If I have to, I’ll get the Department of Wildlife on the phone and get another permit. I can’t stand by and watch my beautiful home be destroyed again. Oh, the image of the last woodpecker ruining my house haunts my dreams! Whatever it takes, I’m going to get this woodpecker problem resolved, and fast.
Although woodpecker problems can be serious, it’s not very often that they can be considered dangers; in fact they’ve probably never been considered dangerous. At least in my 17 years as a wildlife technician, I’ve never been injured in any way because of a woodpecker – or at least I hadn’t been until last week. You would think after all these years I would have seen, done, and experienced it all, I know I thought I had, but I was dead wrong. When I got a call from a customer with a woodpecker problem, I never would have pictured it going south in any way.
It was honestly a pretty routine job; the owner came to stay in the home, went to sleep, and he woke up to a horrible pounding outside his bedroom window. Later that day I received a call from him and a full report on the woodpecker problem: approximately 4 holes that he could see, and only one bird. I loaded my truck with sight, sound, and taste deterrents, strapped on a couple of ladders, and made a lunch stop before I headed to the job – just like any normal day. When I got there I set up my ladder and started to check all the open holes for any birds inside and to see what I would have to do to solve the problem. There were no birds that I could see or hear and all I needed was a vent, some screen, and a few deterrents to set up.
I should tell you that there was one woodpecker hole that was covered by a stainless steel square that had been installed years before when they experienced previous woodpecker problems, and right next to that hole was another recent hole that I was planning to cover and work with. When I got up the ladder I started like I would have any other time, I stood below the hole and knocked on the wall to be sure nothing was inside before I covered it up. When nothing flew out I got to work; it was all routine, I was going through the motions like I had at hundreds – maybe even thousands of woodpecker jobs before this. What I wasn’t expecting was for a woodpecker to fly out from behind the steel that covered the hole from years ago. It got right into my face and startled me so badly that I fell backwards off of my ladder. Luckily, I was only about 12 feet off the ground so I wasn’t seriously injured, but I definitely had the wind knocked out of me and my ego cut down a few notches. Over my 17 years trapping there have been quite a few animals that have sent me tumbling, but a woodpecker was a first; I guess you just never know what to expect in this business.
There are pigeons in my barn, and it is getting out of control. Living on a farm I am pretty darn used to seeing animals around, and outside of my personal livestock of horses, pigs, a few head of cattle, I’ve also got chickens, turkeys, barn cats, and a couple of dogs running around. I get along well with animals and respect the positive way they can impact my land by helping with insect and rodent control and keep food from going to waste. When I first saw the pigeons in the barn, I figured that they’d help with just about the same things as the rest of the animals do so I let them nest in the upper level. Obviously, I was wrong.
When it started out, I found about 3 or 4 pigeons in the barn, just casually roosting on the roof. Later that evening is when I discovered that they were nesting in the hay storage at the top of the barn, but I figured they would help control any ticks and mites that would get into the hay. What I didn’t realize, was that pigeons can actually have bird mites in their nests!! They got everywhere, all of the animals were itching and scratching, it was a nightmare. After that I tried to shoo the birds away and left poison pellets out for them to eat. But my plan failed.
A year-and-a-half later, I’m still here with the same pigeon problem, only now it has more than quintupled in size! My original 4 birds has now grown to nearly 30. Having a few pigeons in the barn was annoying, but this is absolutely mad. The cats will kill a few now and again but not nearly enough; that’s what I get for teaching them to leave the chickens alone I guess. Even worse, the pigeons have learned not to eat the pellets I set out and I’m too slow of a shot to kill them all. I need some help, please!
You know that feeling when you find the perfect house, fully furnished and no problems? Yeah, neither do I; but I almost knew what that felt like, I came really, really close. My husband and I were shopping for our first house together between the things we wanted and our budget, it was hard to do. So, when we found a house that had practically everything on our wish list, we were all in! The thing is, we didn’t realize that we were buying a pigeon problem along with it.
We called the realtor to tell her we were interested then asked if the house had already been inspected, she said the house had been on the market for a while and would probably need to have a new one done. So, we called an inspector and had him go look at the house. Everything looked good to him; well ALMOST everything, if you don’t count the 79 dead pigeons and poop that covered the attic from wall to wall! When he called and told us I was in absolute disbelief, not to mention how disgusted I was at the idea of such an extreme pigeon problem! I wanted to blame the owner but considering that it was a widowed man that had been moved into an assisted living facility that seemed a like a little much.
The problem is that we still love the house. It’s just outside of our preferred neighborhood, it’s not far from either my husband or my job, and it is a great looking house. The problem is, I don’t know if we can afford the down payment AND a clean-up service, especially because I know it will be a big project that will push back our move in date – which means another month’s rent we don’t have. So like I said, I almost experienced that wonderful feeling of everything going right, but not quite. I’ll let you know after we deal with this pigeon problem, though.