Thursday, July 22, 2004

July 22, 2004

Oh, my, how time flies! First, a monsoon update: the monsoon definitely arrived, but all the rain we have received (except for traces) has come late at night. And not all that much. One night I was sure we had major rain (from all the noise). I checked my new rain gauge the next morning to find a mere .15 of an inch. The overall weather pattern has shifted today, however, so major storms are expected to increase.

The next update concerns our pack rats. We called Mr. Pack Rat, a removal service (and the only one in Tucson that specializes in pack rat removal and prevention). Mr. PR came out and inspected our property and gave us a ton of information. The kissing bugs, for example, enter houses only when something has happened to “their” pack rat and they have to find a new host. If you’re not allergic to them, the bite is a minor annoyance, but people have been known to die of anaphylaxis from the “kiss.” Pack rats do not spread ticks—the tick I described was apparently an anomaly, and probably had been on the cat. Pack rats also don’t spread Hanta virus, a relief.

There is only one adult pack rat to a nest, and they can have dozens of offspring a year. They are opportunists—will nest anywhere that offers them shelter.

Mr. PR informed us that we have ten active pack rat nests, and he is going to come out, trap the rats, sanitize the nests, and pack-rat proof the four places where they are actually living in proximity to the house (the spa heater, the workbench in the carport, the water heater closet, and the out shed). There was also an incipient pack rat nest in the engine of my car. He said that it was probably a young pack rat, and it hadn’t fully moved in yet. We removed pieces of cactus and seeds, what Mr. PR calls the “furniture and groceries.” The next day there were more furniture and groceries, so I bought some dried bobcat urine—available at any feed store—and sprinkled it on the engine block. So far the pack rat has not returned. (Though I wonder where it did go.)

Other nature news: while visiting the tagged pack rat nests with Mr. PR, I spotted two tiny, beautiful magenta blossoms on pincushion cactus in the front yard. At least I think they were pin cushions. Gorgeous, anyway.

This morning when I first looked at the pond (which is totally gucked with algae again, by the way), I saw a huge, very odd-looking bird perched on the cyclone fence surrounding the “riparian” area. It took me a moment to realize that it was a roadrunner. I had never seen one perch before. It looked very ungainly and very reptilian. Through the binoculars I could see a greenish sheen on its body feathers. It sat there for a while, then opened its beak a couple of times, stretched its wings once or twice, and FLEW AWAY.

Finally, later this morning we were out on the porch having coffee when I noticed a dark furry mass behind a bureau we temporarily have outside. On closer inspection I saw it was a tarantula. Due to my husband’s discomfort with certain types of wildlife (anything that isn’t fuzzy and cute), I decided to move it away. At first I thought to trap it in a box, but it was HUGE, and didn’t want to be trapped. A couple of times I accidentally turned it upside down, and it had to right itself—a rather awkward procedure. It was by far the biggest tarantula I have ever seen up-close and personal. (And very handsome, in a gruesome kind of way.) Finally I got it to climb on the business end of the broom and carried it out to the back of the yard, where it wandered off into the lantana.

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