gnat now
Wednesday September 20th 2006, 10:53 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",To dye for

Our front door was painted yellow. The former owner thought it would be cheerful.

Over a dozen years ago, there was a whitefly explosion in northern California, an invasive species from I forget where with no natural local predators. Gnats, you’d think something would eat a gnat, but white gnats seemed to be off the birds’ gourmet foods list–cauliflower au soleil!–and they multiplied quickly into great swirling clouds, like white dust devils twirling in a column in the sunshine. Our ash trees were emphatically not happy with them.

Which is how I came to find out that yellow is a color that is naturally attractive to insects: they’re programmed to see it as meaning “Flower. Yum.” Which meant that, until California started releasing large batches of counter-attack tiny nonstinging wasps that only ate whitefly larvae, every time we walked through our front door, we had to run a gauntlet of the little icky things en masse. One time, I got out there with a wet rag and mowed them down in strokes running down the door, just to see if I could have a clear door for even a moment. But there was no end to them. I gave up. Those wasps eventually did the job, though, and you almost never see a whitefly now.

I did get that first angora scarf overdyed green today; I’ll post a picture when it’s dry, and tomorrow the second scarf goes in the dyepot. While I was knitting it a little earlier tonight, a black gnat flew into it and got caught in the fuzz, making it an easy target to squash. Awhile earlier, I had seen another crawling up to a broken-off piece of yarn that I’d separated from the ball due to moth damage; I thought, boy, those hatched fast after I took that out of the freezer!

When that angora had shown up in the mail, the first thing I had done was to put the box in a heavy sweater-size ziploc bag and put it in the freezer to immediately kill any possible moths, before I even knew there had been any. Just as a precaution. It’s a pesticide-free way to kill them, alternating between warmth and freezing: kill the adults and larvae, then warm it up so the eggs think it’s spring, throw it back in the freezer again. I never have been quite sure how long the interludes between should be, though.

Two gnats in the angora in one evening, and I was sitting there wondering, since when do gnats eat yarn? Do I have to worry about everything biting it now? Is angora that much of a dessert in the bug world?

And then it hit me. Yellow. The yarn was bright yellow. Flowers. Yum. And I felt a whole lot better.

Pictures tomorrow when the first scarf is dry and there’s more to show off. Oh, and–our front door is white these days. But the ash trees, I’m afraid, are gone.

3 Comments so far
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I just KNEW you’d enjoy having a blog. Great job. The new website looks terrific, too. Not too fancy, but clean and easy to find everything. Congratulations!

Comment by Donna 09.21.06 @ 11:51 am

Thanks, Donna!

Comment by AlisonH 09.21.06 @ 12:09 pm

Certainly a story that you must keep going… loved the little morsel you shared.

Comment by Deborah 09.23.06 @ 11:31 am

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