Posts Tagged ‘insects’

I was supposed to be canning pickles (both dill and my sweet gherkins), plus I had apple sauce that was hot and waiting for the canner to heat up.  But before I got started packing the pint jars, I thought I would run out to the garden once more to look through the cucumber vines and see if I missed any.   I had.  So I picked them, and noticed that there were some tomatoes that also needed to be picked.   I needed a basket for that, so I started back to the house to get it.

As I scurried past the pond, I noticed that the apple mint was in full bloom.   It is taking full advantage of the lapse in memory I had a few weeks ago when I started the water running into the pond to fill it up, went inside and promptly forgot all about it.  In the morning as I was waiting for my teapot to fill so I could make coffee, I thought idly to myself,  “Gosh, the water pressure sure doesn’t seem to be as high as usual … OH SHOOT (expurgated for the blog)!!!  Whereupon I crashed out of the house, scaring the dog away from her breakfast, ran out to the garden to turn the spigot off and observed that the pond was approximately 5 inches over flood stage.  Further investigation showed that the water had flowed all the way down to the Petite Prairie, watering the day lily bed quite throughly.  The drain pipe at the other side of the vineyard was also trying to deal with the overflow.   I still have a green circle down there, where everything else is sere and brown.

But I digress.   The apple mint was blooming furiously, having been so well watered previously.   I just deviated from my course a bit to see if perhaps my honey bees were availing themselves of the pollen source.  They were.

The honeybees had lots of company out there.    I forgot all about pickles and apple sauce and went to get my camera.  I spent quite a while out there, standing quietly just inside the border of the mint patch.  When I first arrived with my camera, everyone got very excited and nervous about the big thing that had just disturbed the feeding frenzy.   But as I stood quietly, things settled down.   Here is a group of four different sorts of wasps, all intent on their food source.


The variety of pollinators present was impressive.

There were yellow jackets, of course.



Several different types of wasps were in attendance.


That big black wasp was at the large end of the size spectrum.   But there were teensy wasps too.


Some of the wasps were overcome with optimism for the future by the large quantity of food available.   The sudden onset of a good energy source put them in the mood, I guess.

The female went about the business of flying and eating as if the male wasn’t even present.

There were also several female bumblebees at the buffet.


A tachnid fly — one of several different varieties flitting about.


Butterflies –a buckeye and a little blue.   The little blue has a mud dauber wasp sharing the frame with her.


I saw a beautiful bright green sweat bee, but it didn’t stick around long enough to get photographed.   You can see what it looked like here.

There was an interesting beetle.

I’m not positive, but that may be an assassin bug, which means it isn’t strictly a pollinator, but more a pollinator eater.   They wait in flowers for the pollinators to come along, grab them and then suck the juices out of them.

Here’s another predator.   Probably not big enough to be a danger to anyone other than that tiny wasp above, or possibly a gnat or aphid.

That’s my finger holding the flower apart because the little crab spider wasn’t anxious to be photographed and kept hiding from me.   No escape from the paparazzi, I’m afraid.

There were a couple of dragonflies around too.   This is a rather small red one.

Just a few feet away is the pond, and this big blue dragonfly was hovering around there.

It was heartening to see all that life burgeoning in the yard, since it has been scorchingly hot for three weeks.    I mean really hot, too.   The temperatures have been over 100°F every day for three weeks, only cooling off into the low 80s at night.   (That would be 38° C for all the rest of the world.)   This heat has been accompanied by a complete absence of rain of any measurable amount.   We had a respite today, a line of storms came across the plains.   We got about 1mm of moisture out of that, enough to settle the dust (barely) and raise the humidity to about 90%.   Ergh.

This is what the garden along the back of the house looks like.   All those burned hostas are not dead, they are just conserving their energy and protecting their roots.   Still, it is a little depressing.   The Hosta Dell exhibits similar damage.

Please notice the lawn to the right of the path.   Our whole place looks just like that except around the landscape shrubs and trees, which we have been pampering with regular water.   This also encourages the grass, which gives the rabbits something other to eat than the fruit tree bark.   The rabbits out browsing gives the owls something to eat.

There is a note of hope in the middle of all that devastation.    The naked ladies have made their appearance.   I just love them, their combination of hardiness and delicacy is inspirational.

The pickles have been put through the canner and are cooling on the counter.   They are accompanied by 6 pints of apple sauce.

Now I believe I’ll get that basket and go out and investigate the tomato situation.








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With the expert help of my IT guy Jim, I was able to view and edit some video I took this morning.   This is about where Ruby and Mallory have gotten in their play partnership.   Ruby is no longer just “playground equipment”, but an active participant in the games, which are still in the process of development.

Disclaimer:   No dogs or kittens were injured during the production of this video.

Ruby and Mallory Play

We sleep together too, which is fine with Ruby until Mallory wakes up and starts “messing” with her.  I guess it tickles too much, and she usually grumbles and moves.

In other cuteness news, I finally was able to capture a shot of one of the baby praying mantises that hatched out a couple of weeks ago.   This little guy is less than 3mm long.

He didn’t stay still for long, either; totally disapproving of having the large black eye pointed at him.






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I suppose in traditional paganism, this is deemed the turn of the year because this is about when the deep cold of winter is inevitably looming on the horizon, the sun is definitely waning, life is slowing for the winter sleep.

We had a killing frost the other night, which the garden reacted to rather predictably.   This is a self-portrait simultaneous with a view of the garden in the morning.

You can see the garlic and the chard still soldiering on.   I will be harvesting the chard today and mulching the garlic.   Off to the far left you can see the last tomato cage I hadn’t pulled yet, the tomatoes did not appreciate being frozen.  Let’s get closer to those cold frames, why don’t we?

Yes, the winter salad crop is coming along quite nicely.   Just behind and through the glass you can see the last black bean plants, which also did not appreciate the cold sharp night they went through.   I’ll be turning them in soon as well.

The latest blooming of my fall blooming crocuses are enjoying the cold.   This particular variety doesn’t even bloom until after the first frost.  They do not happen to be the saffron variety, those bloom before the frost.

Other than bloom time, the only thing that seems to separate these from the saffron crocuses is the length of the anthers.

I found this wasp drowning in the pond yesterday.   I happened to have my camera with me, and so I was able to document her as she sat and dried herself off after I gave her a lift out of the pond.

I love that the shadow of her wing on the rock shows the translucence of it.

The fig tree was hiding a secret.

That is a praying mantis egg case, by the way.   I love finding evidence that the generation succeeded in propagating itself, despite the harsh heat and dry of the summer.

Here’s another species that has propagated itself.

This little guy was running around on the lazy susan this morning, and then trying desperately to chew his way out of there.   I’m not sure how he got there so that he could not find the way out, but I was happy that he fell into this canister (which I was storing there empty), making it easy to take him outside to the wood pile.   He was joined by another mouse on that trip, the one that fell into the wastebasket by the desk last night and was rustling around in there, keeping Jim awake until he figured out what was going on and put the container outside for future reference.   That mouse was still there this morning.

Other than mice, we also have spiders moving in for the winter, the not-nice spiders that I actually do kill — brown recluses.   One of them bit Jim last night, and the resulting itch and burn kept him awake for longer than was good for him, especially since he has to work today and we got up at 4:30 bloody a.m.  A good hot soak with sea salt infused water seemed to do the trick, at least until the mouse started rummaging around.

I shall leave you with an image of the re-blooming iris that lives in front.  I moved it inside because of the frost.

That seems to have been sort of a waste of energy, as the stem I left outside is doing just fine, thank you very much.

But I like having flowers in the house.

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I was going to wax poetical about autumn and the changes that go on during this time of the year, but so many people have made posts lately in the same vein.   And it seems like they have done a better job of the poetry than I feel like I can.    So I’ll just tell you to go visit Frances or Carol or Sue O’Keiffe and be dazzled.

Instead I am posting a few pictures that I have captured in the last few days here at The Havens as things prepare for the coming winter.

I annoyed this caterpillar severely for quite a while, making it walk from one side of the echinacea leaf it was on to the other in my quest for a grand portrait.   This appears to be a golden wooly bear caterpillar, which is the larval form of the Virginian Tiger Moth.   Oddly enough, this moth is pure white in form, making its naming a mystery.

Just in case you were wondering, you are looking at his (her) head end.  Shortly after I annoyed the caterpillar, I continued in my deadheading chore and came across a garter snake.   It was a little sluggish since it wasn’t that warm of a morning.   Frankly, this snake would have been happy to eat the caterpillar pictured above, and their habit of consuming plant-eating insects are one of the reasons I like garter snakes.

Earlier that morning I was walking Ruby in our customary place and caught a good sized skein of geese as they circled around discussing whether it was time to head south or not.

Later in in the day I found that the honey bees were visiting the cleomes.

Jim was putting the new tarp over the leaky roof of the woodshed and disturbed a gravid praying mantis who was hunting there.   (We have noticed that the wrens think the wood piles are the buffet du jour also.)   Anyway, in order to preserve her from the activity around the site, I moved her over to the Petite Prairie.   Frankly, I don’t think she looks all that grateful.

Last night when I let Ruby out for her evening constitutional she tore out to the root cellar and proceeded to bark in a very meaningful manner.   I thought it might be politic to go see what she was so interested in, not really wishing to deal with a skunked dog right before bedtime.

But it wasn’t a skunk, it was a young possum, which she “treed” in the fig bush.   I know there are a lot of people who don’t particularly like possums, but I believe that the scavengers and carrion eaters play an important role in our lives.   Anyway, I found this shot rather humorous, because the poor thing is trying desperately to “Play dead” while at the same time clinging for dear life to a branch that really isn’t big enough to cling to comfortably.

“Nothing to see here, folks; move along, move along.”

Lastly, but not least, I am including a scan of all the discarded avian raiment that I have found when walking out and about this year.

And so I go out to embrace the changes in the season, while reminding myself to treat my body lovingly and carefully as the pulled muscle in my groin heals.

No, don’t ask how I acquired that injury.   The answer involves Way Too Much Information.

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It is with a great deal of difficulty that I limit myself to only one photo to illustrate this week’s Photohunt theme “hanging.”

I have tomatoes hanging on the plants, so ripe and red.   There are feathers hanging in flowers, but I JUST posted those this week.  I have hanging baskets full of flowers, there is a hanging basket tuberous begonia that is very special.

But right now, the biggest news on the place is the cucumber patch, which has decided that the patch provided for it is certainly not big enough.   In the past few days the vines have inundated the paths between the raised beds, and the rising tide of cucumber has now reached the asparagus patch and the vines are busily availing themselves of the support the aging asparagus stalks provide.   The shape of it all truly mimics a breaking wave, so the imagery of the tide is not completely bizarre.

I was poking around in the plant trying to find a good baby cucumber to photograph for the concept of “hanging.”   They do hang off the vines in a most beautiful fashion.

And I came across a lady bug beetle larva, quite seriously occupied in its hunt for aphids and other sucking insects detrimental to the cucumber.

And so we have a ladybug larva hanging out on a cucumber which is hanging on the vine.

Now, I have to stop hanging around here and get busy and take Ruby for her walk before it gets too hot.

But you should take some time to visit other photohunters.   You can find them here.

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