Meet my new best friend.
Isn't he just the cuuuutest thing ever? Well, the reason he's clinging so tightly to his new friend's finger is decidedly NOT cute, not at all.
Our story begins with the whitefly invasion I briefly posted about a couple of weeks ago. At least I think they were whiteflies. Maybe they were moths; perhaps they were gnats. Truth is, I really don't really know for certain, because the little jerks refused to sit for portraits. All I know is, they were whitish in color, they could fly, and they were EVERYWHERE.
Admittedly, I freaked a bit. You see, I had just planted half of the fall vegetable garden (with one hand in a cast, mind you) and I was certain these droves of evil flying creatures were out searching for a cheap brunch buffet. Since pesticides are out of the question in my garden, I quickly researched eco-friendly solutions to flying insect infestations, and decided to go with sticky fly traps.
And the traps worked swimmingly, on both flying and crawling insects. Oh, but I was pleased as Punch with the success of my sustainable garden whitefly solution, smugly oblivious as to whether I was trapping good guys or bad guys. Quite pleased, indeed. That's the way to do it!
Until this morning, that is. Heeding the old adage that a gardener's shadow is the best form of pest control, I started my day as I usually do, by surveying the back 40 (feet, that is; not acres).
After watering the bed where I planted the root vegetable seeds this past weekend, I checked out the pole bean and cucumber bed, and that's where I found the tiny baby anole, hopelessly glued down to a sticky whitefly trap, from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. Sob! Anoles are good guys, eating flying insects like mosquitoes and, yes, whiteflies. Poor little thing was probably just looking for lunch. At first, I thought he might be...um, not alive...I touched him, gently, and he opened his eyes and began to pant. He's alive, yay! and yikes! I needed to act quickly.
I ran inside the house, fly trap in hand. How to get him off without hurting him? Scraping him off with any sort of garden or kitchen implement would surely cause severe injury. Aaugh! I tried rinsing anole+flypaper in lukewarm water, but dang that glue is water-resistant, precisely as advertised. Solvents were out - even vinegar could be too caustic for a baby anole to endure. Something inert, something with a neutral pH, something slippery...maybe oil would loosen the glue?
Twenty minutes and a Q-Tip drenched in canola oil later, baby anole was free, with every scale, tail tip and toe intact. Free, but weak from struggling to get loose for who knows how long. Trembling with fatigue and breathing heavily, he clung to my finger, never suspecting who put the traps up in the first place! Waa! What have I done? Would he be OK?
I took him outside and put him in the sunniest spot I could find, on a patch of spiderwort, and breathed a sigh of relief as I watched him crawl across the leaves, moving all his wittle feeties, toes, arms and legs with no problems. Whew. As soon as he spied the neutral-colored ceramic pot nearby, he started turning brown.
He attempted to scale a spiderwort stem to get to the pot,
and promptly slid off, landing softly on a sprig of horseherb. Oopsie. I guess I didn't do such a good job of rinsing the canola oil off.
After a bit of a rest, he took off, in search of a (hopefully safer) meal, and I took off to collect and dispose of every stupid whitefly trap in the garden.
And the moral of this story is, eco-friendly pest controls are not inherently harmless, d'oh. Sticky traps can traps lizards, butterflies, ladybugs and other garden good guys. Sigh. Instead of panicking and posting whitefly traps all about, perhaps I should have been more patient and waited for their natural predators to move in. It's always so hard to know when to act and when to wait. I feared waiting could result in a disastrous infestation. Unfortunately, decisions made from a position of fear are typically poor ones. Lesson learned.