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                   Thursday, May 8, 2008 - 4:51PM

The hostile outdoors!

By DAN ROBINSON
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25 Years of Storm Observing
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Since I work at a computer for most of the day, I like to get outside and get some fresh air - particularly this time of year, when things are greening up and getting warmer. This spring, however, that's not been easy, as going outside leaves one literally under attack from multiple angles. My yard especially seems to be a concentrated hazard zone this month, more so than I've ever seen it in the 10 years I've lived here. It's to the point that even on a nice day I'm avoiding it! To give you an idea of how prevalent everything is, I just went outside and shot all of the following pictures below on my property in a span of about 5 minutes.

Poison ivy: What is going on with this stuff this year? Every once in a while I see a few vines pop up here and there, but this spring they have taken over everywhere. When I returned from Raleigh, you could not look anywhere in my yard and not see at least one poison ivy plant. What's worse is that I can't manually get rid of these in any way without breaking out in the nasty rash, no matter what protections and precautions I use. The front stairway was getting enveloped by it, so I had to pull those up - the rest of them just got nuked with Roundup. I hope that stuff works, because otherwise it's resigning myself that I'm going to get slammed by poison ivy rash if I have to pull all of the vines up by hand.

Ticks and mosquitous: I can't go out in the backyard for 30 seconds without getting assaulted by mosquitoes - and now ticks!?! I've never seen a tick in my yard in the 10 years I've been here - but I guess they decided that 2008 was their time to move in. I picked this guy up on my jeans while I was out shooting the photo of the poison ivy!

Crane flies: Raleigh has these too now, so maybe this is a widepread thing. They are more of an annoyance than anything damaging or parasitic, thankfully. At least five of these fly into the house every day, and there are dozens of them on the exterior of the house at any given time, day and night.

Bees and wasps: You saw the honeybee swarm from earlier this week (which I actually don't mind, since they are fairly benign) - but paper wasp nests are popping up all around the house. This is one of three new ones this week. Looking out my window, I see yellow jackets buzzing around the ground, probably looking for a place to burrow a nest (that I'll painfully find out about later when I run the lawn mower over it). I'm allergic to bee stings, so I'm not looking forward to that.

Tree pollen: North Carolina and the south traditionally were the only ones who dealt with this stuff - but now Charleston's getting in on the action too. Again, I've never seen pollen actually visibly coating things this much here. This is one of my barbecue grills on the back porch (a few raindrops have created the pattern in the pollen coating).

Tree seed pods: I don't know exactly what these are (I'm feeling too lazy to Google these to indentify them) but they are some sort of seed pods that fall from one of the trees in my yard every spring. They are especially dense this year, literally covering the ground and the roof! I just cleaned out my gutters last month, looks like I'll be doing it again.....

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