Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Overheated insects

It is hot, hot, hot! Outside the temperature has risen to 37°C. Inside the temperature tries to reach the same height. But here at the coast we don't complain. In many parts of the country for days already it has been over 40°C. I know that Athens and all the other Greek cities, and cities in countries like Romania and Albania that are hit by the same heat wave are hell at the moment. Athenians who arrived here last week said it felt cold here in Eftalou, compared with the Greek capital.

Of course new weather records were set: this is going to be the hottest month of June for 90 years (and we still have some days to go), we are probably going to have the hottest summer of this century (well, this one is only seven years old, or do they mean a hundred years?) and the island of Rhodes set a new record with a temperature of 45°C on one of its beaches.

I also set a new personal record: I did not sleep for two nights in a row. It is so difficult to get to sleep in this soaring heat. Sweat is running down you and before you know it you are lying on wet sheets, so that you probably want to jump into the washer yourself along with the sheets. I could try to sleep outside in the hammock, but then I would probably be covered with all kinds of cats, which will not contribute to a cool night.

The best thing is to stay inside for as long as possible, waiting for late afternoon to go to the beach and cool off in the sea. That is just what the ants are thinking, except that they make themselves very busy and do not want to go to the sea, so they squat in the house.

I remember a far cooler heat wave in July two years ago. Then the ants also took over the house. On the internet I found an article by the South African professor Clark Scholtz who confirmed that during heat waves ants go inside houses because outside it becomes too dry for them.

So this is happening to our house. Wherever you look you see ants busy looking for something, but what? Sweet? Water? They climb into your computer, they dive into your cup of tea, they storm into an empty pan which you just cooked your jam in, they steal the food from the cat, they occupy the dustbin, they attack dead insects on your windowsill. Nasty animals they are!

So it is mostly in vain that you try to keep cool in this heat, because these nasty little things keep on calling: 'Sweep me up, sweep me up!". Cleaning the house from top to bottom - a very nice job to do during a heat wave - is not enough because you should also control all flying insects in order to see they do not drop dead, because then the ants throw themselves en masse upon that little dead body. And whenever you cleaned one part of the house, you can start again at another part, because ants seem to like well scrubbed surfaces as much as one drop of spoiled marmalade.

Insects mean trouble in this heat! I thought we closed all tiny openings in the house, but spiders and other creepy-crawlies keep on finding a way to enter the house. Lately we were even stalked by an enormous wasp (Vespa Crabro, the biggest in Europe), one which you are not supposed to kill because it is a protected species. That's not the reason why every day I put it back outside. I preferred to catch it in a glass and give it back its freedom, because otherwise I had to get out all cleaning stuff in order to wash off a nasty spot on the wall. How this huge insect always got in, we never found out.

Keeping a cool head is also difficult when you are attacked by this zoom-zoom noise. To the left, right, up, down, you keep on turning your head, but that bloody little mosquito stays invisible. Whatever function mosquitos have, except annoying people, I have no idea. But it's a fact that they're the cause of many a sleepless night.

The cats are at their last gasp. Too hot to hunt, too hot to play. Today and tomorrow in Greece people may stop work at noon. Not only to spare the working people, but also to spare electricity, because we now have daily power cuts. They say that after a warm winter follows a hot summer. And we still have two summer months to go... Well, I can survive this heat and I decided not to worry about the ants anymore. They say that the heat wave will continue for another two days. But when it cools down, for sure I will kick out all those stupid ants, even if it takes me three days of cleaning!

Copyright © Smitaki 2007

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