I like to consider myself to be relatively brave when the pressure’s on. I’m not too phased by snakes, rats, roaches or bugs in general. But if I’m confronted by a spider all bets are off – not so much the small ones [poisonous or not] but if it’s one of those big ones that takes the broom out of your hand I turn into a hopeless mess. If I had tattoos I’d have to have them all removed ‘cos I’m not so tough really.
Around October each year our orange and lemon trees get an infestation of ‘stink bugs’ [Bronze Orange Bugs] who systematically destroy every bud on the trees. They multiply rapidly and if not stopped they will destroy the entire crop. This season I started nailing them early with pyrethrum spray which is the safest yet most effective, non-systemic non-residual spray I’ve been able to find. I lost a fraction of the crop but we look like we might have a winter treat this year.
And whilst I was doing this work I started day-dreaming about nanotechnology and robots, as I do, and thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we could get tiny robot spiders whose sole job was to protect our plants, crawling around at night zapping-squashing-burying-ingesting all manner of evil on our trees?
Problem is, even if it’s a robot spider I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night. I’m brave enough when the pressure’s on – snakes, bugs, rats or roaches don’t really phase me – but spiders are another story… there’s something about any reasonably sized spider that turns me into a complete coward. I even quiver when the kids bring home plastic spiders which are sadistically designed to look like real spiders – I just know I’ll be padding around at night and spot one on the floor…
So maybe robot spiders wouldn’t be so cool, but how about a robot Gnome? We regularly watch ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’ with the kids [no spoilers here]… so it seems a reasonable aspiration to one day have a family of robot garden gnomes [or even fairies?] who tend our gardens at night. Something a bit more friendly.
I’d program mine to also ‘deter’ the neighbours cat which I’ve busted killing a blue tongue lizard in our garden and who also pees on our lawn and kills the grass… ‘deter without prejudice’ I’d command them. I’d consider rewarding them with a box of spare parts but I’d be worried they might build their own robot spiders as pets and sub-contract the work out to them.
In any event, these critters are on the way. I’d give it only a few years before we can 3D print our own stink bug assassins at home and enjoy plenty of fresh orange juice in our back gardens, wondering what ever became of the neighbour’s cat…
Happy gardening this weekend. Get your hands dirty and let your imaginations run free.