Macro Monday Has A Lot To Say About Invasive Species, Apparently

Here’s a fun thing that happened:

All weekend I’ve taken to doing some random long-needed yardwork, one task of which involved attacking the invasive grasses that have, well, invaded our property. These grasses were once ornamental, procured by someone somewhere — a neighbor, our home’s former owner, some random Forest Hobo — and they bought them from Home Depot or Lowe’s or some other proprietor of invasive plants masquerading as friendly landscaping greenery. They planted these grasses. These grasses spread like emerald fire across the roads, driveways, forests.

These grasses form a pretty significant root ball, too, so they’re incredibly hard to remove.

So, I decided I was going to tackle one particularly massive patch, see what kind of damage I could do. Our weedwhacker with the blade attachment wasn’t working, though — I cleaned the spark plug and checked the filter and whispered the secret words into the motor, but still nothing. I decided to get my very own blade attachment: A MACHETE.

Machete in hand, I went to attack the grass.

I was successful not only in chopping the shit out of the grass, but given how much it has been raining lately, I was able to rip up several of the root-wads right out of the damp earth. (Sidenote: we seem to have stolen the PNW’s weather, as it is unseasonably cold and rainy — right now it’s 60 degrees. In August. Sorry Seattle and Portland! I know that you’re presently on fire and stuff. I blame those wacky climate hoaxsters, The Chinese.)

So, that was good fun, but now I am in pain. The backs of my thighs feel like Ivan Drago has been using them as punching bags. Sitting down is an exercise in sudden, unexpected misery. But it came from being productive, so I’ll take it, and also, SCREW YOU INVASIVE GRASSES.

The next day, a tree fell. And it fell in part across the road, so I went down to take a look — initially I assumed it was going to be one of our ash trees. We have problems with the (also invasive) emerald ash borer around here. (Sidenote: you can inoculate your trees against them, even if the ash borer has already begun to attack the tree. Used to be that it was a thousand bucks per tree, but I guess the patent expired or something, and now it’s produced by other companies for around a hundred bucks a pop. You literally poison the tree to poison the bug. Doesn’t hurt the tree. Kills the bug.) But this tree was very leafy and green, so I went over to it and started lopping some branches and moving stuff off the road, and then I was like, “Hey what are these green berries on the tree that’s weird,” and then I was like, “Hey you know what has berries, poison ivy, and I’ve never seen the berries but this surely can’t be poison ivy, because the leaves are huge, and they’re not in groups of thr… wait no they are in groups of three wait this tree is dead it’s just colonized by so much poison ivy it looks like it’s alive oh shit oh shit.”

I went home.

I scrubbed and scrubbed.

I used gritty soap and then Tecnu soap and then showered.

And this morning my right arm looks like I’m wearing a shirt made of poison ivy.

So that’s fun.


Curiously, though much of my weekend was spent dealing with invasive species (including cutting down invasive Tree of Heaven trees and killing the invasive bug that eats them, the lanternfly), poison ivy is not actually invasive. It’s part of a healthy forest ecosystem, and shores up the ground against erosion. It’s also a fucking shitty asshole dick. *itch itch itch*

*scratch scratch scratch*


I told you about those cool book sales. They’re still ongoing.

You saw Turok #1, right?

And since we’re talking about invasive things, hey, don’t forget that book I wrote about ants, ants, ants: INVASIVE.

Did you remember that I’m at the Writer’s Digest conference in NY on the 18th, 19th, and 20th? I’m on a couple panels — one about worldbuilding and another about building an audience with a blog. (That last one is tricky, and I am likely to offer controversial opinions about both building audiences and making bloggery.)

Also reminder that I’ll be in SF, Portland and Seattle with Kevin Hearne and Fran Wilde on October 17th, 18th, and 19th, respectively.


please to enjoy these new photos taken by yours truly

*chops off arm in the meantime*


  • Is…is that the severed head of a yellow jacket on a leaf? Wicked! I hate those b*stards, even if they were my high school”s mascot (who”s idea was that, anyway??!).

    Sorry about the poison ivy, though. 🙁

  • I love the wasp head. Yellow jackets are assholes.

    Ugh, poison ivy. The leaves aren’t as easy (kudzu looks similar, and ha ha ha we have a LOT of that in the south) but the furry vines on trees are a little easier to identify. Which isn’t much help NOW, but maybe B-Dub will appreciate the lesson.

    What kind of invasive grass are you dealing with? Mondo/monkey grass? I’ve got a couple patches of that in the yard but it just doesn’t compete well with the native stuff (clover and wild violets mostly.)

    • I don’t know if that’d be that exciting? Trust me, I would if I thought it’d be great. I’ve taken snaps of bloody cuts before and… they’re pretty cool, shh.

  • Oh my god, on a crappy day, you make me laugh so hard I’m crying! So sorry about the poison ivy – at least you didn’t try to BURN the tree and get that shit in your lungs…

  • First, dude, I’m so sorry. Poison ivy sucks.

    Second… Where is the hornet body. Do you have tiny, terrifying homicidal bugs there that leave hornet heads laying in leaves like some sort of sacrifice to dark and ancient bug gods. Or is it cleverly hidden on the back of the leaf, wearing it like some fancy collar? Because way, that is creepy looking.

  • I feel for you. Poison Ivy is miserable. Rest (if you can) and treat yourself to something like binge-watching a series or a new book on Audible. It will help keep your mind off of it.

  • So my very first comment on your blog included the word “taxidermist” and now you’re featuring insect taxidermy on a post (because that wasp head is obviously an accent piece for some other creature’s rustic living room decor); is it all a sign that something needs to be written about twisted taxidermy?

  • Your posts are the best thing on the internet right now. Thank you for making me laugh–on a regular basis now that I’ve signed up for the emails. Found you because of your “shit-shellacked” post someone had shared on FB, which I not only saved but sent to a million friends. Amazing shot of the beheaded wasp, BTW. That’s some macro lens you’ve got. PI sucks. Prednisone cream is the cure. Trust me, I know.

  • Ugh, Poison ivy. I had it once so badly the doctor said: “There’s not enough cream for this.” I feel your pain, err, itch. Nice picture, though. Love the yellowjacket head. The only Yellowjackets I like play jazz!

  • Tree of Heaven? More like goddamn Ailanthus STINKS SO BAD.

    Sorry about the poison ivy. I got a body-wide case when I was 10 after playing in it (at that time unable to recognize it) and it seems to have since immunized me. When I go hiking through it these days no matter how much I brush against it, it doesn’t seem to bother me anymore. Maybe you’ll get similarly lucky.

  • I *love* the disembodied yellowjacket head. I would mount it as a warning to all future yellowjackets that decide to bombard me as I attempt to weed my garden. Maybe wear it on a hat!

    Thanks for the Monday smile. Hope your itchiness subsides soon. Benadryl makes a pretty spiffy gel.

  • August 7, 2017 at 3:14 PM // Reply

    Calahist (R) does the trick. Rub it well into all affected areas. It helps dry up the blisters and alleviate the itching enough so you don’t claw yourself to death AND spread it farther. My sympathies; I had poison ivy pants one time and it was HELL.

  • Whoever thought convolvulus aka bindweed should be marketed as “perennial morning glory” should be slowly strangled by the stuff – like everything else is. Madness!
    Love the wasp head, though. The ladybird looks pretty thuggy, maybe she dunnit.

  • Several years ago, I was stung on the ankles repeatedly by two yellowjackets that managed to probe their way THROUGH my fucking socks. Searing pain the first night followed by an itchy hell for the next two to three weeks. So, I feel no sorries for that wasp and his severed head.

    Sucks about the poison ivy. Hope your arm grows back. But dude, wtf? Give us back our weather. I don’t want to be on fire anymore. 🙁

  • August 7, 2017 at 10:56 PM // Reply

    See, this is why I don’t go outside except to get in my car, and even then I stay on the walkway as long as possible. Only the last four feet to the car door require me to step on the grass. Nature is evil.

    The disembodied wasp head is cool, though. Looks like it doesn’t pay to snitch on the Wasp Mafia any more than the human one.

  • Invasive ROCKS. I devoured in like two days. The pace blows your hair back. Buy it, you’ll be glad you did, but of course sad when you finish it. It’ll be hard, but savor it. I wish I had, but no – I inhaled it like a dozen warm, chocolate chip cookies, and I’m in withdrawls (from the book not the cookies).

    • I’m actually immune to poison ivy for whatever reason. We found out when I was small. My mom found me frolicking in a patch. Nothing happened, so she took me to the doctor. My own weird super power. B

      But, mosquitoes bites drive me crazy. I refuse to live anywhere with a large mosquito population.

  • Can you get a corticosteroid shot? Poison ivy is the worst. I got poison oak when I was three months pregnant with my oldest and it didn’t go away until I delivered him.

  • Got a dose of poison ivy a month ago and tried Domeboro followed by Caladryl. Really, really, really helped stop the itching. Still took a month to heal. Good luck!

  • The emerald ash borer has destroyed the trees on our property, too. We have 5 acres, and the majority are dead or dying ash trees.

  • All the pix are great, but I especially like the snail shell. Worlds within worlds. I would buy a book of your photos realquick, good sir, and I suspect I’d not be the only one. Think about it, eh?

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