Codgerism, Stinging Things and World Order

   Written by on August 31, 2017 at 12:09 pm
The stories in this column are true. Averett lives a dull life in rural Southside Virginia with his wife Management, two children and a rotating assortment of goats, dogs, cats, snakes and other local fauna.

The stories in this column are true. Averett lives a dull life in rural Southside Virginia with his wife Management, two children and a rotating assortment of goats, dogs, cats, snakes and other local fauna.

Now that I am officially an old codger I am required to do old codgerish things. I could sit on a bench in the park and feed the birds and squirrels except we don’t have a park so I have to sit on our deck and shoot at the squirrels.

My take on squirrels is that there is more to squirrel life than just food. I am adding excitement which should make their lives more interesting and fulfilling.

While I am sitting on our deck shooting at squirrels I feed Octavia. Octavia is a delightful spider. Her class is Arachnida of course but her order genus and species are unknown.  One day I’ll look her up. In the meantime, I just admire her and feed her. We have a beautiful relationship.

Every evening she builds her web just behind my head so she can catch whatever shows up at the porch light and the mosquitoes that come to feed on me. Then in the morning as I am drinking my coffee she removes the web and hides for the day.

She listens to whatever I have to say and never contradicts or fusses at me.  She politely accepts the bugs I carefully place in her web with a pair of tweezers.  I have the tweezers, not Octavia, regardless of how that sentence read. This is more difficult than you may think. The writing isn’t difficult, the tweezing is. Not all of the web is sticky; there are three other kinds of strands and the sticky ones will stick to tweezers and to Octavia if she isn’t careful.

Recently I was attempting to teach the Grand-brats the taxonomy for spiders. I was shocked and disappointed with me. You won’t believe this but there are things I once knew that I can’t remember anymore. If this has anything to do with codgerism I can already tell you I am not going to like it.

I do love taxonomy though. It is a beautiful system. The scientific name for anything also shows how it is related to everything else. It is sort of a place for everything and everything in its place. Although this happens to be in direct contrast with everything else in my world you just have to admire a perfectly ordered system.

The only problem with my Octavia time is the Japanese hornets are also attracted to the porch light. There is a reasonable chance that one of them will fly up the leg of these baggy cargo shorts we old codgers often wear. At that point I will dance in a very uncodgerly fashion, which is not only undignified, but hornet stings are relatively painful.

On the other hand, the Velvet Ants living in the rock wall have a more painful sting but they are more attractive and less annoying so I encourage them to hang around also.

Speaking of stings, I just saw a study on hymenoptera (bees and ants) stings. This guy stung himself over a thousand times with every bee and ant he could find. Then he rated the pain level calling it the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. Although I have been stung by most of the insects on his index, doing it on purpose sounds like a lot of Schmidt to me.

According to Schmidt the bullet ant and the tarantula hawk have the most painful stings, followed closely by the Velvet Ant. I’d like to pass on the first two. The Velvet Ant is enough for me.

Then another guy checked out which location on the body hurt worst to be stung. As a long time beekeeper and having been stung on every square inch of my body at one time or the other I already know that. I’ve done the slow motion study over several decades. He did his more quickly. Still we arrived at the same conclusion. The absolutely most painful place to be stung by an insect is directly on the tip-the very tip of your (drum roll please) You were wrong. (another drum roll) on the very tip of your nose.

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