Recent heavy rains have done more than make grass grow. Bugs like this moisture, and they’re reproducing at record rates and sponsoring insect gatherings in town and out. Not only are humans swatting and smacking at bugs torturing fleshy landing pads on arms, legs, foreheads, and more, beasts are busy dodging biting and stinging creatures as well.
During a visit to Mom’s in Wakeeney, we decided to drive about to see what effect these downpours have had on roads, streams, pastures, and fields. We didn’t need to look long before we saw washed out rural routes and fields, brush hanging off highest fence lines or dangling from tree branches bordering creeks and streams, shallow ponds drowning once thriving wheat, and cow herds massed tightly into fence corners.
When I first saw those bovines grouped like junior high girls at their first dance, I thought about the old saying that cattle gathering in corners predicted impending storms. I was puzzled because I’d checked the weather channel that morning, and, while it’s not always accurate, it had forecast clear days ahead. Why, then, were these girls and their calves snuggled tight enough you couldn’t count them on a hot day?
I couldn’t imagine that they wanted to be positioned nose to tail or side to side so close that nothing could make its way through that herd without major rearranging. Then a fly bit me at the same time a mosquito announced its irritating presence with an obnoxious whine. Aha, those cows had united to protect themselves and one another from noisy, hungry, flying hordes.
While humans use hands to swat, flatten, or wave away these aggravations, cows don’t have that option. All they have is a tail—a nice switchy device with a knot of hair at the end, but it’s hardly adequate to address swarms of starving bugs. Their problem-solving strategy impressed me. No dumb animals here; these girls did not intend to be passive victims.
Such close proximity might have forced less than hygienic cattle to not only smell but absorb body odors emerging from various, slimy orifices. However, I doubt that’s a real concern for creatures that start life nursing directly underneath their mother’s tails. Nope, these gals and their babes got up close and personal, leaving tails free to swipe and slap each other’s pests.
While making sure I observed at a distance far enough away to avoid inviting their six-legged tormentors to land on me, I noted that mamas and babies chewed cuds, stomped feet, and swished perfectly designed fly swatters in such a rhythm that it kept those blood suckers from landing on them or any nearby bovine. An army of agitated insects hovered overhead in a hangry cloud. I’m sure if I’d been closer, I’d have heard audible complaints.
I enjoyed cruising the countryside to view Mother Nature’s recent activity. Even more, I appreciated watching the wrastling match between cattle and insects. It’s good to know that bovines can deal effectively with airborne forces possessing nasty stingers and sharp chompers. I’m definitely pleased that I come with hands that can use a flyswatter.