Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The weed wars

The airwaves have been bursting with commercials warning of ugly invaders called dandelion, chickweed, and crabgrass. Chemical answers are offered, and Americans will spend billions in the war against weeds.

Why bother? What's so bad about having a few wildflowers mixed in with your grass? Why must all the lawn's greens looking monotonously alike? Why shouldn't a lawn, like a garden, have variety of color and shape?

Think of the advantages of a natural lawn: Less expensive (no chemicals to buy), less work (no weeding), fewer worries (buttercups won't bug you), fewer potential health hazards (that's poison you're pouring on those dandelions), more color and form (natural lawns are interesting, have variety, offer surprises), and more wildlife (songbirds love weed seeds).

The disadvantages? Well, you’ll still have to mow every week or two. And maybe it's a little tougher to practice your putting.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Zap the cracklers

Snap. Crackle. Pop.

The sound is not cereal but the death knell of the 71 billion insects killed annually in ``bug zappers.''

“Great,” you say. “The only good bug is a dead bug.”

The fact is, however, that most insects killed in zappers are beneficial or, at the least, not harmful or even annoying. Many are food for wildlife such as birds and fish. Others, like ladybugs and tiny wasps, attack and control harmful insects. Still others, including moths, are flower pollinators.

The mosquitoes and biting flies that owners think they’re killing aren’t even attracted to the device’s ultraviolet light. One scientific study of the contents of bug zappers found that of 13,789 bodies, only 31 were biting insects. That’s less than one-quarter of one percent and an incredible waste of not only life, but electricity.

The irony, the researchers said, is that bug zappers destroy many of the insects that kill and control mosquitoes and flies.

Do the world a favor and zap your zapper.