Archive for July, 2004
When I got into the office this morning there was a phone message from a colleague alerting me to the news that someone had died in Southern California today from West Nile virus. The mosquito-borne virus has now colonized the continental United States from east coast to west.
Since I work for an environmental organization that advocates for restoring wetlands this is a big deal. People are going to panic about any water body being a breeding ground for a killer virus.
Same was true for the killer bees. Which have now hybridized with the European honey bee here in the West. Then there’s the Argentinian ants who seem to have an underground empire in my backyard. And the numerous other creatures that long ago made their home in foreign lands. My squirrels are from somewhere out East. The starlings are a European import. Not to mention my cat–definitely an introduced predator.
The garden is especially beautiful at the moment. The scarlet oak casts its generous shade over the hydrangea and rhododendron. The (California native) spice bush, calycanthus, makes an emerald wall of foliage below the arching Francis Lester rose. Brilliant crimson dahlias (from Mexico) tower above the marigolds (also from Mexico) and string beans now in the first flush of production.
But it’s the mulleins that steal the show with their towering flower spires in pale cream and peach and violet and yellow, all ahum with a metropolis of bees. I have yet to count the different kinds.
There are mosquitos too. The western flycatcher perches on a tomato stake to catch them. Near dusk the violet-green swallows zoom in for their mosquito dinners. A few bats would be nice since they can eat zillions of the biters in a night. But I am too far from a water source–a lake or stream–that they need for drinking.
A soft plashing from the half-barrel fountain reminds me that I should go out and buy another small water pump for the ceramic water bowl. Mosquitos won’t lay eggs in moving water. Some visitors are not welcome.