HELEN LANG: Taking care of those pests

You have to convince yourself that rats are vermin and carry terrible diseases

I hear there are hordes of those horrible “tent” caterpillars infesting fruit trees (and a lot of other trees as well) but we’ll have to let Mother Nature deal with the latter while we attempt to rid our trees of these hairy, hungry pests who build nests where we don’t want them.

It sounds pretty unkind and primitive but Jim, using my long handled loppers, would cut the nests free and when they dropped to the ground, put the whole horrible thing in the incinerator and fry them. It wasn’t pretty.

When the infested branch was too important to be removed, he used to tie a strip of an old bathtowel on the end of a long pole, soak it with either wax or oil and light it. It made an effective torch which demolished both the nests and their inhabitants.

While we are on this nasty topic I should tell you about a rat trap that is pretty horrible but probably no worse than a bought rat trap.

You’ll need to get a tall plastic pot. If necessary oil the inside walls to make them slippery. Fill your pot about six or a few more inches with water.

On top of the water sprinkle flour, and in the centre float a slice of bread well covered with peanut butter.

Lean a board from the ground to the top of the pot. I suppose you might call this walking the plank.

Since this lethal trap is usually used at night you should be safely asleep when brother rat goes swimming.

You have to convince yourself that rats are vermin and carry terrible diseases, (it never helped me that much, either.)

Now, to finish this ghastly topic off, I’d like to suggest that you blow up a brown paper bag, tie it closed and fasten it to a branch or just something close to an unwelcome wasp nest.

The wasps believe it to be another wasp nest and since they are very territorial they will give up and move elsewhere.

Now that suggestion wasn’t so bad, was it? Sorry about the others.  It’s not pleasant but they do work.

Jim used to put the dead rats in the garbage can and that way they ended up in a place where there are already a lot of their living relatives (or so I am told).

•   •   •   •

A happier suggestion and it seems to work wonders. You seem to get a lot more fruit from fruit trees using this trick.

Tie a piece of nylon stocking (or similar)  holding a stone (size of stone depending on the need for weight) to a fruit tree branch, close to its end, to draw it down so that it ends up level with the ground.

I can’t tell you why this should work, I only know it does.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.