in my humble opinion

Welcome to the neighborhood

Summer edition

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 6/23/21

It’s hard to believe that summer is already upon us, especially for those of you who are new to the region and thought that winter would never end. On the flip side, spring was particularly …

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in my humble opinion

Welcome to the neighborhood

Summer edition

Posted

It’s hard to believe that summer is already upon us, especially for those of you who are new to the region and thought that winter would never end. On the flip side, spring was particularly lush this year, and I, for one, wasn’t overly anxious to see it draw to a close.

Officially, winter, spring, summer and fall occupy the same amount of space on the calendar, but let’s just say that time flies, even more so when you’re out and about, soaking up all that the Upper Delaware River region has to offer in any given season.

Speaking of flying, the summer edition is loaded with all sorts of topics, including insects that former urban dwellers may not have encountered in more densely populated areas. In researching info for visitors and new residents alike, I always stumble across interesting tidbits, including some that I was unaware of myself, so let’s dig in and explore—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

First up, the good: Now that restrictions are being lifted, there are plenty of cool things to do in and around your neighborhood. New York and Pennsylvania are peppered with gorgeous lakes, ponds and streams, not to mention our glorious river, so be smart, be safe and enjoy. Street festivals, concerts under the stars, plays, parades and farmers’ markets await, so be sure to check out the River Reporter calendar of events weekly to keep up, keep track and keep busy throughout the summer.

The bad: Bugs, bugs and more bugs. According to www.insectidentification.org, there are currently over 1,000 varieties of insects living (and breeding) in the region, and I’m pretty sure that all are important to the ecosystem, so use natural deterrents, please. Aside from the usual assortment of beetles, ants, grasshoppers, flies, spiders and crickets, there are a few I could live without and some that might take you by surprise.

Take the wheel bug, for instance. I found a description in an online guide called “12 bugs in New York that will send shivers down your spine.” The article identified it as “a bug you [don’t want to] have a run-in with,” stating that “these guys are a part of the assassin bug family.”

“Assasin bug?” I groaned in the general direction of my dog. “Really?” Known to “ferociously stab its victims (thankfully, mostly other bugs) with their terrifying fangs” they also “happen to have an excruciating bite.” Ouch. I couldn’t find a royalty-free picture to illustrate the point, but that should make being on the lookout for these tiny monsters more fun, am I right? Oy.

Collecting pine cones for craft projects (I’ll share one in the fall edition) and country ambiance? Be aware that there’s a critter lurking inside. Known as the Western conifer seed bug, this is one I’ve encountered. According to yet another internet source (www.onlyinyourstate.com) the [unknown] author says, “First off, if you’re a New York resident who is familiar with these disturbing bugs, my deepest apologies.” Wow, man.

“Infamously known for being a terrible East Coast nuisance,” the article continues, “these awful bugs originally came from the West. Creating a bothersome buzzing noise when flying, there is an entire list full of reasons why everyone wishes these guys stayed over in their original territory.” Interestingly, said author does not elaborate, but I gathered bags full of pine cones last summer, which I unwittingly left in the kitchen and found hundreds of the “awful bugs” swarming the house when I awoke the next day. Let my horror story be your cautionary tale.

While hardly ugly, the plethora of wildlife is something we all need to be aware of, whether you’re new to the neighborhood or not: bears, raccoons, opossums (they’re gentle creatures, really!), bobcats (uh-huh), coyotes, snakes (you’re welcome!) and more deer than you can shake a stick at abound. While some are reclusive, please know that they all live here, too. Solid advice from the folks at www.catskillmountainclub says it better than I ever could:

“We hope that you all realize that the only result from feeding these creatures, intentional or not, is a negative one. Please,” the website implores, “for the sake of the animals, your neighbors, and the Department of Environmental Conservation, do your very best to keep bears [and other denizens of the mountains] at bay this summer—and if you do get the unique opportunity to see one, we hope it’s in a more meaningful place, [like] on a nature trail.

Look! Up in the sky! I’m not a birder, and in fact, most winged creatures unsettle me, but our skies are filled with ducks, geese, owls, hawks, hummingbirds (don’t get me started), swallows and mockingbirds, to name but a few. By now, you likely know that your new neighborhood is world famous for our once-endangered bald eagles, which are truly a magnificent sight to see, as they fly through the air with the greatest of ease.

I could go on, but I’ll leave you all with this: Please, be kind to the environment so that future generations can continue to reap the rewards of living in our pristine neighborhoods, as yet unspoiled by urban blight. Please extinguish your cigarettes in ashtrays, not tossed out on the roads, and keep your trash where it belongs. Heck, in my neighborhood alone, the population of Sullivan County typically triples during the months of July and August, as summer visitors move to the Catskills from New York City, so for the love of god, stop speeding. What’s your hurry? Slow down; you move too fast IMHO.

Fun Fact: The Catskill Mountains have (only) two poisonous snakes. The timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) and the Northern copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen). Most poisonous snakes in the Catskill Mountains are in Ulster County. So... not in my neighborhood—LOL.

Tip o’ the day: Looking for a natural, DIY way to create bug repellents? These home bug repellent formulas use simple, organic ingredients. Try them and find one that works best for you at www.familyhandyman.com.

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