I don’t hate spiders.
Far from it.
They just scare me brainless… sometimes literally.
I’ve been known to disappear from one spot, and reappear several metres away, almost instantaneously, as though my proximity to a spider has sent an emergency alert to Scottie to beam me out of there.
But I rarely kill them.
There’s two reasons for that.
One reason is obvious: it’s hard to kill them without first getting close to them.
But the bigger reason is that I recognize their importance in the scheme of things, and my irrational fear is no excuse to behave like an American under Donald Trump’s spell.
That point was driven home today when I noticed the contents of a web strung between two branches in my apple tree.
Stuck in the web, being prepared for a meal, was an apple maggot fly.
Apple maggots are newcomers to B.C. They arrived in the Fraser Valley a few years ago, and they are nasty. Sort of like codling moths, their larvae tunnel through the tree fruit, rendering it unpalatable at best, and given time, completely inedible.
They are so nasty, that Washington State authorities have issued a travel ban on any apples from areas where the flies have been spotted in significant numbers.
I haven’t been able to determine if there are any bans on moving apples around B.C. yet – I think the problem might be that it needs a political announcement and Christy Clark hasn’t figured out how to arrange a photo-op with the maggots without making it look like a cabinet meeting.
The maggot fly gets around by travelling inside apples that start out looking perfectly normal on the outside, so it’s a good idea to keep your apples at home if you do happen to have a tree in your backyard and you don’t know for certain that your neighbourhood isn’t infested.
Cook and compost any apples that fall prematurely (or you can hot-juice or sauce them if you’re not squeamish). Don’t dump raw apples in your compost, because the bugs like to overwinter there before wreaking havoc the next spring.
One fly can lay waste to an entire dwarf tree’s harvest, if not captured and destroyed immediately by hand or sticky trap.
Enter my friend, (Eek! I don’t believe I’m saying this…) the spider. Encourage him. Nurture him.
His meal could be your apples’ salvation.