Photo: A Mama's Corner of the World
As many of you hopefully know by now, our culture seems to be infatuated with obscenely large portions of food. Supersized meals, lattes the size of a human head, and the looming tryptophan coma that most Americans will experience later this month are all evidence of this pervasive lifestyle. Over-indulgence in food is a topic that has received a large amount of media attention in the last decade, most of which is fairly depressing.
But take heart. There is a silver lining, which happens to be the fact that we are not the worst offenders. That’s right, humans take second place in this twisted battle, to none other than our tiny nemeses – TICKS!
Why do our pollinators have to hurt?! (image: Bee removal source)
I’m not sure who struck first, but I have a contentious relationship with bees. Generally, we try to avoid each other, but sometimes things get ugly. I suppose we have some overlapping interests: sweet things, summer, and parks. I’m not sure where everything got out of hand, but I’m prepared to call a truce.
Apparently bees are dying at alarming rates and that I should be concerned. I do like to eat many things that require bees’ pollination, but why must they pull a kamikaze on me once or twice a year? I suppose a few bee stings is a small price to pay given my yearly nectarine intake. Since I’m not allergic, my angst may be a touch over-dramatic. Still, I’d prefer to avoid the hours of pain followed by days of itching that the stings induce. Apparently, there are 10 things that I (we) can do to avoid this fate:
- Don’t wear perfume or cologne. I find it very hard to imagine that I could ever be accused of smelling like a flower on a run.
- Avoid wearing brightly colored clothing, especially floral prints. The running apparel trends of late are not helping me avoid bright clothing and this doesn’t look to change soon. Fortunately my closet is lacking floral prints though.
- Be careful what you eat outdoors, sugary foods attract bees and wasps. My short easy runs are pretty safe but those gels and electrolyte drinks may be making my long runs and track workouts dangerous, especially when I spill all over myself.
- Don’t run barefoot. My feet are safe here, sorry Born to Run fans.
- Try not to wear loose-fitting clothes (bees may accidentally end up mixed in the fabric). There’s not a lot of bee-trapping fabric in my life.
- Stay Still. That one may be a problem while running.
- Keep your car windows rolled up. I am a proponent for air conditioning but if my car was parked in the sun and I just finished a run… the windows are down while the AC catches up.
- Cover your trash. My aforementioned fondness for post-run air conditioning makes this mostly a non-issue when running from home. But, for the record, the trash is covered.
- Don’t hang out in the flower garden. Well, technically none of my current runs specifically include flower gardens, but I would certainly be kidding myself to think that my typical routes are devoid of flowering plants. Citrus trees and California Poppies are two prolific potential points of conflict.
- Call a professional to have unwanted bees, wasps, or hornets removed. Probably does not apply to the whole of Montana De Oro State Park.
With only 4 out of 10 of these recommendations accomplished, it looks like I have some work to do if I am ever going to fully mitigate my bee-sting risk. Considering a reported 1/3 of our food and 8 to 12 billion dollars worth of economic value depend bees, I should probably work to change my habits rather than wish ill upon bees (with one notable exception, Africanized bees are definitely worthy of our disdain.)
If you or people in your group are allergic or unsure, following the advice from this list a long with having an EpiPen available in emergency is important whenever participating in outdoor activities. Hopefully soon, bees will no longer be in the news for their decline and we can all enjoy the summer without conflict.
Maybe bees aren't so bad after all. (image: clipart)
Throughout the United States, skunks are hiding in cat-sized crevasses waiting to roam the night (or if you are reading this at night, they are roaming currently). These opportunistic animals are happy hunting insects and small rodents, foraging for berries, scavenging a convenient carcass, or making a mess of your trashcan. Over time, their versatility has allowed them to thrive in virtually every condition and take on urban sprawl with little impact on their population whereas other animals have been less successful at “fitting into society”.
Skunks can't be missed (Image: Britannic)
Where most animals use camouflage to blend in, skunks are outsiders. If squirrels listen to Coldplay, skunks listen to Rancid and dress the part. Like our neighborhood punk rock aficionados, standing out is part of their visage and lets the rest of us know that they play by a different set of rules. Where their furry friends scurry to safety at the first sign of danger, skunks are more apt to mosey on brazenly until predators prove they are serious.
Despite their prolific presence in our environment, runner-skunk encounters are rare. Still, if you run enough miles, particularly at dusk or dawn, it is likely that you will see a skunk in your running career. If you get too close, you, and your social life will be immediately impacted.
While other mammals have the ability to create a musky scent for territory marking or mating purposes only skunks have the ability to spray their musk as a projectile. As anyone with experience can attest, their musk is by far the most potent. From glands in the skunk’s rear, the offensive fluid can be sprayed up to 12 feet with a good amount of accuracy.