My tolerance for creepy-crawlies in my home is wearing thin.
When we first moved in we vacuumed up the box elder bugs and ladybugs that had congregated mostly around the windows and naively thought, “There! That takes care of that little problem!”
No. No it did not. It doesn’t matter how many I kill, they just keep coming. If one would assume the number of live bugs in the middle of a Minnesota winter would be limited, one would be wrong. I actually researched exterminators and entertained the idea of calling someone to come throw a tent over this place and fumigate it. But alas, in good conscience, I can do no such thing. I’m just not buying the claims that these chemicals are not going to have some negative effects on people.
Thankfully, these boxies (I have lovingly nicknamed them this) and ladybugs should be leaving soon all on their own. They overwinter in buildings and then in the spring when things warm up they leave for the woods. Hopefully. Then we will have all summer long to seal up every crack, gap and crevice in this old house before fall returns and they all flock en masse back here seeking warmth for the winter. So my best option is to continue to kill bugs the old-fashioned way while remaining optimistic that the end is nigh.
During all my time spent squashing bugs I began to wonder “What eats these things?” There has got to be a way for me to delegate this task to someone else (because the kids won’t touch them). So I did a little research and only a few creatures will eat things like boxies, and this is one of them:
This bird eats beetles, wasps, ants, spiders, flies, ticks, rodents, and snakes among other things. (This is epic enough to warrant the bold font.) They are relentless hunters. Bugs are their prey. They are my new best friends.
Free-ranging guinea fowl get about 90% of their diet from insects. (Compare that to chickens at around 15%.) Guineas will eat little to no purchased feed in warm months when insects are abundant, making them more cost-effective to keep than other poultry. They are extremely resistant to disease. They don’t have much of an appetite for plants so they are pretty trustworthy in and around the garden, too. They are becoming very popular on farms for their low-maintenance seek-and-destroy insect services. It has been suggested that one pair of guineas will keep an acre tick-free. Each hen will lay about 100 eggs a year and the meat is dark and rich, resembling pheasant in taste and appearance. I am so excited about these birds I had to order my own little team of insect snipers.
I am getting five of the pearl gray variety.
I also ordered five lavender guineas.
Plus five more guineas in royal purple.
The bad news? They won’t be delivered until June. June. It feels like ages away when I have all this untapped potential in my home and yard right now.
Compared to chickens, the guineas will seem a bit wild. They are pretty independent of humans and are not a good choice for someone seeking a cuddly pet. They are noisy birds and will be the first to sound the alarm if predators show up on the farm. They can even chase some types of predators away. We’ll probably give them a little feed in the evenings to entice them into the coop for the night to keep them safe, otherwise they will roost in the trees. If we keep them in the coop for most of the morning, we’ll find more of their eggs since they will otherwise lay in hidden, natural areas and the eggs would be lost. Having them roost in a coop will make catching them easier when the time comes for a taste test.
So this fall when those pesky bugs come crawling back to freeload in my house all winter long, they will encounter my army of guineas, ready and waiting to strike. 🙂