The wonderful screen porch, where I spend most of my time, is my window to the world. While our home has a fantastic view of Presley Creek in the back, screening in our porch, ended up being the first and most important project we took on.
There are a fair amount of wild creatures here on Northern Neck, and we have our fair share of said creatures, both large and small, here at the Compound. Although, the rabbit, deer, squirrels are of normal size, what I find most fascinating are some of the bugs.
To say the bugs are larger than usual here is an understatement. When we first bought our home on Presley Creek my neighbor was quick to tell me that years ago most folks who lived down here on the water moved up into town because of the bugs. I wasn’t sure what type of bugs he was referring to but I soon found out that his statement was one of the most telling things I’d hear about my new neck of the woods.
Before we physically moved, we were in for a visit and arrived after dark. We switched on the front porch light and within moments heard the buzzing of a bee. Odd. Considering it was after 11PM, pitch dark, and bees don’t fly at night, right?
Buzzzzzz….when we turned, headed straight for us was the largest hornet I’d ever seen, and it was on the attack. We headed inside as quickly as possible. Whew! Fortunately, it wasn’t headed for us but rather our porch light. We learned later that these are European Hornets and are common to Northern Virginia. Wanting to get a better handle on their habits, I asked my plumber, a pretty laid back knowledgeable Northern Necker, about them.
He looked and me and simply said. “You don’t want to be stung by one of them.”
But it gets bigger..er um..better..buggier.
Summertime Sky Show
Naturally, here in rural Virginia, there is no shortage of mosquitos. Fortunately, nature provides us with a delicate, lovely pest controller – the dragonfly. Love them or hate them,
they do a spectacular job of taking care of most flying pests. I’ve seen them in action in the evening when their flight begins. The dragonfly gracefully swoops in, grabs its prey in it’s ‘hands’ mid-flight, and dines.
They do quite a number on stink bugs too. With not much to do out here in the country, you can catch stink bugs on your porch in red solo cups and then toss them in the air for the dragonflies — they never miss! It’s become a game. Score: Dragonflies – 10, Stink bugs – 0.
There are many different dragonfly species native to the Presley Creek area. They range in size, wing anatomy and color. They certainly aren’t shy as I’ve witnessed them land on my husband’s back with no fear of being swatted away.
I must confess when I was a small girl at camp (that’s where northerners send their kids in the summertime), I was afraid of these fearless flyers. The rumor was they’d darn your skin, like a sock. Huh? Yes, we believed it. And yes, there’s a group of dragonflies referred to as darners.
Oh Look A Lizard – Or is it?
There are days when I’ll be taking in my view from the porch, and I’ll see what I always thought was a salamander crawling up my screen. I noticed these little guys climbing up the exterior walls of my garage as well.
Collecting salamanders and toads at summer camp was one of our favorite activities. Living in the city, we didn’t see many reptiles or amphibians so when we were lucky enough to catch one, we’d tuck them in our brown lunch bags and bring them home to keep as pets. After we played with them for a couple of hours, my parents ultimately would release them into our city backyard. Our favorite was the salamander because it changed color and if we were lucky, my parents weren’t able to always see them so we were able to keep them for a short period of time.
It had been awhile since I’d seen a lizard or salamander. So, when I spied my first skink, I was sure what it was but further research told me these are a skinks – a type of lizard common locally. My favorite, because of the color, is the Southeastern Five-lined Skink — I think it’s the bright blue tail.
Porch sitting is almost an occupation here. Having a screened porch is as important as having a car. If you want to be outside to enjoy nature, relax or visit with friends, keeping the bugs out makes things a lot more comfortable. It quickly became the priority project here at The Compound and our best decision ever. As I mentioned earlier, your front porch becomes your view of the world. I’ve got to say, mine is pretty cool.