COLUMN: Winging the way through summer

A few weeks ago at the height of the mosquito season, I was lamenting the decline in the number of swallows hunting the winged critters during the day, and what appeared to be a lack of bats gathering them in during the dark hours.

COLUMN: Winging the way through summer

A few weeks ago at the height of the mosquito season, I was lamenting the decline in the number of swallows hunting the winged critters during the day, and what appeared to be a lack of bats gathering them in during the dark hours.

In fact, I almost regretted sealing up the gap between the new house siding and the brick chimney back in November to ensure that the bats of last summer did not repopulate my abode.

Thus it was, last week, sitting as usual on my deck watching day transition to night, catching the final rays of sunlight caressing the crest of Mt. Baker, that I heard a scratchy croaking sound emanate from my left.

A small frog inhabiting the downpipe, I assumed. When you live in ‘the country,’ you come to accept the fact that your dwelling is shared, welcome or not, with all manner of creatures.

A couple of evenings later, and again the slight noise attracted my attention – damn frog! – so I crept over to the pipe and leaning forward, listening intently when, like a Harrier jump-jet, a bat shot out of the siding crack straight at my chest.

Fortunately, its echo location system working overtime, and probably making me sound like a war-movie submarine under attack, it banked a hard left about three inches from collision and hustled off into the darkness in search of prey.

I didn’t hang around long enough to determine how many others joined its foraging routine.

As dismayed as I was about providing residency, once again, for a ‘flock’ (horde?) of bats, perhaps their presence was the reason that our location was not quite so overrun with mosquitoes as other parts of the mountain.

So, despite their assumed evil reputation, there truly is a benefit to having them around.

However, next year they won’t be living in the house, because not only will I acquire another tube or two of caulk, I’ll be considerably more diligent in my sealing efforts this fall when the bats migrate to warmer climes.

And a winter project will be building a couple of bat houses to hang on the barn, far from the house.

If I can find the time, that is, for such construction work between setting traps for what will surely be another winter invasion of mice seeking warmth.

No matter how hard I try to find every niche, nook and cranny, the crafty little blighters manage to make inroads.

Happily, I have a sure-fire bait system for the traps that catch most of them before they reproduce and inundate pantry and parlour.

After all, if I can keep the lawn clear of moles, thanks to a handy-dandy trap built ‘right here’ in Mission, B.C. and costing a mere $20 or so, I can surely maintain a vermin-free house (though there are times when, depending on my antics, I am occasionally lumped into that category).

At least with the new pup, the mouse smorgasbord that was left-over kibble in our old dog’s dish has been addressed.

He licks the bowls so clean you can see your face in the stainless steel.

And, as the fleeting remains of summer begin the transition to fall, my evenings on the deck soon to be diminished by inevitable rain, I can at least relish the few weeks left bug-free, thanks to my winged transients.

markrushton@abbynews.com

 

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