Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bug Out

It was a dirty, sweaty job, but it needed doing and the weather last Saturday was perfect for doing it.

Like many across the metro this year, three of the trees in my backyard have been afflicted with webworms.

In case you aren't familiar with these insidious little beasties, they build a webby nest in your tree and eat all the leaves. The more leaves they eat, the bigger the web gets. As the web gets bigger, it engulfs more leaves for the little bastards to eat.

It seriously uglifies your trees and can kill saplings. And the only way to really get the out of your tree is to amputate the infected limb and destroy it.

So anyway, I had already pruned the affected branches from two of the three infested trees.

The worms on the third tree were about 20 feet up. I put up a ladder and grabbed my telescoping loppers and climbed as high as I could through the lower branches.

By this point I was used to tree bark, leaves and sawdust falling off the trees onto my head and into my eyes and ears (eye protection is for the weak). So after I lopped of the offending branch near the trunk, I stepped down off the ladder and brushed myself off.

I could feel that a piece of leaf had fallen into my ear. I casually tried to brush it out with my pinkie finger as I picked up the recently severed branch to add it to the debris pile.

Except the leaf wouldn't come out of my ear. In fact, my brushing attempt seemed to have pushed it further into my ear.

It was at this point that I noticed dozens of tiny winged insect crawling all over my shirt. This was accompanied by the realization that there wasn't a leaf in my ear, it was a bug. And it was crawling deeper into my ear canal.

Cursing, I made my way inside, headed to our downstairs bathroom and grabbed the nearest cotton swab. I rubbed it around my ear until I was sure that no creepy crawlie could be left.

Feeling better (but still a little creeped out), I headed back to the backyard to finish my work. I'd just taken a step off the back patio when I felt the sickening tickling in my external auditory meatus - and no, that's not a good thing.

Panic set in as I raced up to our master bath. We have multiple mirrors that can be articulated to allow me to look into my ear.

It was clear that this nefarious creature was intent upon burrowing into my noggin and laying eggs in by brain. Believe me folks, I can not afford to lose any brain cells.

Visions of Chekov's madness in Wrath of Khan raced through my mind.

I aligned the mirrors to peer into my ear and there it was. Laughing maniacally at me and brandishing its pincher-like beak about to delve into my dome.

A few quick flicks of my finger and I had him out.

I made my way back outside, relieved to be rid of this certain terror. When I got into the sun, I peered at the horrible little invader for a moment or two before crushing him like the bug he was.

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