Cheryll's Writing Journal

Musings, rants and ravings, plus gems of insight nobody wants to hear now that I've finally got them. Also neat stuff I found on the 'Net when I should have been updating this blog....

Friday, September 08, 2006

Garden Critters

Sometimes, I think gardening is basically a masochistic pursuit. This frame of mind typically occurs while dealing with the latest assault from Nature's battalions intent upon sharing the rewards of my labors.

I mean, some days I truly wonder what these animals did for a living before people came along and provided attics for starlings, bats and racoons. Or telephone poles for hawks to check out the roadside grasses for mice; or garbage dumpsters for just about everything! Not to mention nice neat rows of edibles -- flowers, fruits and veggies all in one convenient place...

Being from the West Coast, for instance, I had never seen a Japanese beetle except in pictures. So I was totally unprepared for the orgy of these creatures' lives.

Observe:
Hibiscus flowered mallow before beetles

Same two days after beetles arrive, en masse

Thousands of beetles, crushed together like kids in a mosh pit, or puppies in a basket, were so heavy that the four and five foot stalks were bent double under the weight.

I looked closely, being over 21 and formerly a biologist, and let me tell you: it was just shocking! Shocking! For a total of 5 days, Ann Arbor was sin city for these creatures. It was eat, sleep and have sex. And maybe not much of the sleeping part.

Good news is: the carnage was short-lived and only certain kinds of flowers got eaten. Turns out Japanese beetles are picky eaters, not the insatiable monsters I had been lead to believe. They liked roses and mallows best, and a few dahlias, but not any of the native plants like foxglove, morning glory, Joe Pye weed, brown-eyed susans, echinacia, golden rod, ironweed, asters or sunflowers.

Now that the sedums have begun to bloom, we are seeing just swarms of honey bees, five or six kinds of bumble bees (well, the giant ones are carpenter bees, really) and untold numbers of bee flies. Watching them is just fascinating. They ignore me, but never bump into me, even when I'm crouched right over them trying to get a picture.

And then there are these guys:
I don't know what they were doing camped here on these milkweed pods. They weren't eating the plant that I could see, just hanging out.

Since the weather has cooled off (even without frost) all the biting bugs have disappeared early this year. Whee! Taking a walk at sunset is just lovely now that I don't have to give blood.

Here's one last critter observed on my walks:

2 Comments:

  • At 10:13 AM, Blogger Nancy said…

    The last critter is a bug that loves to eat aphids and other sap sucking freeloaders. They look alarming, but are the calvary rather than the invaders.

    Love your pictures.

     
  • At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Max said…

    Oh, goodie! Letters from home in a convenient cyber-space format... I always did enjoy my California Care Packages, especially the detailed events of your daily life, so this is wonderful. Why didn't you think of this years ago?

    Keep talking, I'll be right back. I've got to go to the kitchen for some hot tea and a handful of chocolate chip cookies before reading your other entries... :-)

     

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