As the last drops are wrung from the sky and the bloated clouds reluctantly give way to sun, we can finally embrace the long-awaited summer and sort through the aftermath of El Nino. Let us count the ways this summer will be altered.

Due to the constant flow of moisture commingling with warm temperatures, Southern California will not lack its share of lush greenery this year. This will cause an overabundance of pesky insects to deal with: mosquitoes, ants, grasshoppers, snails, slugs and termites. Besides breaking out the repellent or overexercising your swatting motion to avoid swarming mosquitoes, you can cover your swimming pool, drain accumulated water puddles (such as gutters, spa covers, flower pots, etc.) and remain indoors during the peak insect hours of morning and twilight. Argentine ants will be prominent also, and to dodge their invasion, caulk any seals or cracks that may permit entry, or store any opened foods in tightly sealed containers. Gardens and lawns should flourish in the midst of all this water. Stock up on sprays to combat plant disease, and notice the differences among the various kinds: fungicides for moisture-dependent molds and mildews, insecticides for insects alone.

Farming has been affected, too, especially in Ventura County. California's strawberry crops absorbed the bulk of El Nino's punch, losing over $23 million due to incessant rains. Other crops hung out to dry and contributing to the overall $107 million loss to California agriculture are wheat, broccoli, alfalfa and almonds. But perhaps the most noticeable shortage is lettuce. Muddy soils and flooding kept farmers from harvesting their crops on time, causing romaine lettuce, in particular, to skyrocket in price at grocery stores and in restaurants alike. To be sure your favorite salad will be available (and affordable) at your neighborhood hang, call a head. Wine drinkers can breathe a sigh of relief, though, because according to the California Farm Bureau Federation, grapes seem to thrive under Mother Nature's fury, in moderation, of course. Allergy sufferers cannot, however, breathe deeply because they are under siege due to the amount of pollens drifting in the air. Dampness promotes the growth of pollen-producing grasses and weeds, contributing to the load of airborne allergens. Cheer up, though; physicians suggest that the allergy season will not be any longer than usual, just enhanced to an absurd degree. Not all the side effects are negative. The reservoir levels are high, which translates into a better water supply, and the ski season has lingered on longer than usual because of fresh snow packed on a solid base. Things that won't change: Sorry, surfers, you can no longer mistake Southern California beaches for Hawaii's North Shore; according to the surf report, the waves will be nothing more than average, and water temperatures will be as cold as they always are this time of year.

LA Weekly