Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Serial killer

I had never seen a fig beetle before moving to San Diego but they have been visiting our yard for over 8 years now so I'm used to them. I even like them to some degree because they're funny, beautiful and for the most part they are harmless.

One of last summer's fig beetles
I never even thought twice about them until last summer when they arrived and I was worried about them causing problems for our garden. When I googled them I found that they are generally not a garden pest because they feed on overripe fruit, mainly figs, and I was good about harvesting all of my fruit and have no figs. They seemed like a fun photo opportunity as far as I was concerned.

That was until the day the dogs decided to break into my back garden bed and destroy it.I had been noticing that the soil was mounding up in places throughout the bed and my seedlings were being affected by it but my established plants seemed fine. I was perplexed about what the creature in the dirt was.

When Canines attack your garden
Our dogs can be complete jerks but this is completely out of character for them so since I had so much access to the soil, I started digging through it. It did not take me long to discover the culprit. The dogs must have smelled or even heard the hundreds of fig beetle grubs that were in the soil.

Fig beetle grubs
I harvested enough of these things to take a huge feast to all the chickens at City Farmers Nursery. After hand picking them for days I added some beneficial nematodes to the soil and after a few weeks the problem with the soil was gone but I lost a lot of plants and time in the process.  

When the beetles started to fly into the garden again this summer, I started to cringe at the idea that they may try to make their nest in my garden beds again this year. 

"I'm bored out of my mind here"
I should not have been worried because Gidget decided they were the perfect toy and she has been catching every last one that comes into the garden for months now.

Gidget and one of her beetle toys
I'm not sure how I feel about this because she has turned into a serial killer. She whacks them out of the sky, picks them up in her mouth and normally heads towards the bathroom with them. We have started calling the tub her slaughter house because we take half dead fig beetles out of there on a very regular basis.

It may not be so bad if she didn't leave her dirty work for me because more often than not the poor things are only mostly dead and I have to finish them off. What's worse is that sometimes she leaves one in the bathroom completely intact and the damn thing hides in the window sill and then dive bombs me while I'm in the shower. Even worse still is that the bathroom isn't her only killing ground, she sneaks them in when we're not looking and puts them in shoes, on the bed, under the bed, in the laundry, etc.

Sometimes one of the other animals attempt to claim ownership of her beetles
"That sucks!"
But for the most part it's all about her. Several times a day at least.

And another one bites the dust
I don't even think she intends to kill them. I think she wants to play because she always seems disappointed when they quit moving.

I'm really starting to feel bad about having to finish them off all the the time
Even Fleck is wondering if enough is enough
I will be extremely surprised if we end up with another fig beetle infestation in the soil this year so living with a fig beetle serial killer may have advantages.

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