After the Floods - Wasp-mageddon

We have a plague of wasps.  There is, clearly, a wasp nest under the slates at the apex of the roof but - as it is more than 40 feet above the ground it is beyond the reach of anything but a fire brigade ladder. I didn't think it was a good idea for Neil to climb out of the skylight and totter across the slates. So the wasps keep crawling out of a crack in the ceiling, buzzing around for a few moments and then dying in a spectacular paroxysm on the carpet.
This morning's casualties
Why they are emerging from the nest to die immediately we don't know.  There are very few insects around at the moment and it's a puzzle.  Here on the riverbank we are always pestered by mosquitoes and midges, particularly in the summer.  But this year we have sat out in the garden, even on the weir, without a single citronella candle and no need for any kind of repellent. It was the same thing walking up on the moor - no cloud of flies circling our heads; no midges to wave away. I think this is part of the answer to why we've had so few birds in the garden this year.

A recent report from Yale University called 'What's Causing the Sharp Decline in Insect Life and Why It Matters' blames agricultural pesticides (which are widely used around here) for the dramatic fall in insect populations - including bees.  The plight of the bee gets a lot of publicity, but other insects are just as important in the eco-system and we should be worried. To quote the report, a study done in Germany by Martin Sorg, an entomologist from the Krefelt Entomological Association, found that:-
          the average biomass of insects caught between May and October has steadily decreased from 1.6 kilograms (3.5 pounds) per trap in 1989 to just 300 grams (10.6 ounces) in 2014. 
         [Sorg commented that ] “The decline is dramatic and depressing and it affects all kinds of insects, including butterflies, wild bees, and hoverflies,”. . .   

Flood damage in Donegal - hardly reported at all in UK media.

When not avoiding the wasps (I'm allergic!) I've been watching the plight of flood victims in Asia, Houston and Donegal.  Friends and family in Houston have all been affected to some degree, varying from not being able to go anywhere to having four feet of water in a first floor flat. A niece in Donegal, who lives alone with two small children, had 41 inches of raging river torrent through her bungalow in the middle of the night. The immediacy of social media means that you are sharing their ordeal, moment by moment without being able to do much. Watching people wading through muddy water brought back my own experiences of Storm Desmond vividly and I've had nightmares about it.

Repair work is still ongoing almost two years later
For those hit by the floods their journey has just begun. Many of those just glad to be alive in Texas don't realise how long it will take to restore 'normality'.  In Asia, normality may never return. Here in Cumbria, almost two years on,  some people are still not back in their houses, many of which are boarded up and may be abandoned as uninhabitable.  We have bailey bridges, temporary road repairs and broken promises from central government to fund the costs.  Only a fraction of the promised billions has been paid.

Here at the Mill work has begun on our footbridge, to shore up the legs and try to prevent the erosion of the bank around them that happened during Storm Desmond when the bridge was totally submerged.  It will be two years at the beginning of December.  Downstairs in the Mill we still haven't finished the repair work, but the building is almost dried out.  We can begin to paint the walls. I have my fingers crossed for winter 2018, but fear a wet summer may turn into a wet winter. We will just have to live with it.


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