So this is one of the worst pine pollen years in recent memory. You live in the South, you adapt to a fine chartreuse coating on everything for a couple of weeks in spring, but this year it’s ridiculous. We were driving along yesterday, and I looked up the freeway and thought vaguely that it looked like a textbook illustration of atmospheric perspective, the sort we used to paint in color class in college, with everything getting vaguer and mistier the farther away you get, because of the haze from the humidity.
And then it occurred to me that it really wasn’t all that humid out.
And then it occurred to me that the haze was green.
Apparently it’s because we had such a long cold (for us) winter–the trees are all packing their wild tree sex into a much shorter time. (Pollinating for a longer time is, of course, crazy talk. Trees do not do that sort of thing. That would just be nuts.) Kevin says it’s the worst he’s seen here in thirty years, and certainly it’s the worst I’ve seen in five.
Fortunately the green stuff doesn’t actually give most of us allergies–it’s the oak trees also going right now that are killing me–but man, there’s a lot of it.
The only other exciting thing in my yard this morning was a very small swarming of subterranean termites. I was wandering around, and spotted perhaps a hundred or so tiny winged bugs crawling along at the base of one of the pine trees in the back of my semi-shade bed.
The traditional homeowner thing to do at this point is freak out and fling pesticide or boiling water or something, but Kevin was Zen–they aren’t in the house, the house is relatively new and made of treated wood, and we have seen nothing to worry about. So I just watched them for a bit, then went and read up on them, although it was hard to find any info that didn’t come from exterminators and end with “And you should pay us a lot of money to come and drench the house with poison.” Apparently they’re quite beneficial to the environment as long as they aren’t eating the house, but even that information was grudgingly offered.
The astonishing thing wasn’t how many of them there were–apparently this was a very small swarm, as some contain thousands of individuals, and this looked like maybe a hundred or so–but how many of them didn’t make it. I was seeing ants grabbing them off the ground and hauling them away, the air was alive with hunting dragonflies–Kevin got buzzed by one that he claims may actually have been a helicopter–and when I was checking out a bud on my badly deer-gnawed pepperbush*, I saw a tiny jumping spider clutching one in its mandibles. (He was very suspicious of me. Did I want to take his termite? Did I? Did I? He’d fight me for it! No termite for me!) I don’t think half the individuals in the swarm got across the flowerbed, never mind the yard, and I lost track of them before long.
What survived the immediate carnage seemed intent on reaching the deeper woods, I suspect to try and escape the dragonfly armada. There aren’t any houses in that direction, and they were moving away from ours, so doesn’t look like they’ll do much harm even if they DO survive. (And probably there are zillions of them in the woods and they do this all the time, and I was just in the right place to spot this one.) Still, it was an interesting thing to see.
*Pink pepperbush. Deer-resistant. Har.