Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nom. Nom. Nom.

Today I was watering my little pink dogwood (the one thing I planted this year that is doing really well) and noticed an unusual leaf. When I looked closer...I saw this leaf had some nommage going on. Interesting how this little guy made himself a comfortable place to sprawl while eating the leaf at the same time. Such efficiency and on such chubby little legs.

When I turned the leaf around to get a better look at him, I got to see this crazy patterning on his back. My eyes just saw a brown spot which could be excellent camouflage if you're busy cutting up a leaf and want to make the leaf look like you did it days ago...

...but on a computer, that's a heck of a lot of pretty pattern going on... I wonder what those bugs flying around with compound eyes see when something like this hits their eyes? It's got to be "Eeeeee-ouch."

Meanwhile, that little garden I planted a month ago, now looks like this...

Actually, the daylilies look great, the hostas look great, but apparently the "White Swan" echinaceas looked too great to pass up because obviously, they were delicious. Those caterpillars tore through the middle of the garden nomming down all the coneflowers and then just like that, the party was over.

I found a spent chrysalis attached to one of the dead coneflower leaves and although I regret the loss of the coneflowers so soon after planting...

I hope someone did not find that fresh little butterfly nom-worthy and um, delicious.

Or maybe I do. >:-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Last weekend...

I drove past crispy cornfields to get to my land in Kansas.

First stop was to check on my recently planted coneflowers and.....great. My garden had become a caterpillar nursery. I think these little stinkers are Silvery Checkerspot caterpillars...probably the result from the butterfly versions that looked so pretty on the coneflowers just a few weeks before. Oh well, that's why I planted them in the first place and since coneflowers are tough, hopefully they'll come back next year....

The reason I drove out was to start clearing an area that was full of bush honeysuckle and autumn olive (both plants are invasive non-natives for probably the entire U.S.). I did this for two days. And when I was done in this area up the hill and in the woods, it looked like this...

The non-natives were all removed and the natives.......well, there weren't any......maybe some cat's briar but I don't like that stuff so I took that out too (vines with spines I do decline!).

I had a spicebush (Lindera benzoin) I wanted to plant but after I started digging, Tilly immediately covered the partially dug hole and decidedly fell asleep within seconds. She, as usual, was unmovable. Whenever I try to roll her out of the way when I'm planting something, she just rolls right back.

Well, there is always something to do so I started to clear more honeysuckle and found this little guy.

Tree frogs look like little bullydogs to me.

This look...

...reminds me of this one.

And those wide spaced eyes giving you a good staredown?

Could be borrowed from one of these guys.

That tiny frog looked like so many animals, maybe he was really a chameleon. :-)

Tilly eventually woke up and got rolled away from the hole and I was finally able to get that spicebush in....but as I was covering it with dirt, I managed to uncover a couple little eggs that were next to a rotten old hickory log. For some odd reason, I just assumed they were bug eggs and put them back where I thought they came from and covered them with about an inch of dirt (they were about 3/4" long and didn't feel like the hard shell of a bird egg, more like a thick-walled balloon). When I thought about it long enough once I got home, I realized no bug was big enough to shoot out eggs that size (!!!) so I then thought perhaps the eggs were turtle eggs....but they were so lightweight and kind of small for a turtle, even a little one. Dick suggested they might be 'possum eggs (!!!!!!) but I'm just going to assume they're snake eggs, only because I don't know what else they could be (but I can confidently say they did not come out of a 'possum-hahaha!).

Spicebush in, area cleared of non-natives, eggs tucked in...and it was almost time to go home since the sun was going down...but then, this guy showed up...

A baby walkingstick.

Since it was so late in the day, my camera had a hard time getting anything in focus but it does not matter because that bug was so uncomplicated. I could not stop taking pictures of him because of his simple expression on that ridiculously simply designed and easy to draw body. One stick in the middle, add six sticks for legs and two sticks for the antennae on the top of the head, oh yeah, add two eyes. Easiest bug to draw ever. That bug just made me laugh because of that ridiculous face.

Oh dear, I think I hurt his feelers with all my laughing.

Oh well, time to leave anyway. A few lingering fireflies were out and accompanying them were the bats....more bats than fireflies actually.

All in all, a pretty couple of days with lots accomplished. But it's disheartening to have it confirmed that nothing growing on that forest floor is supposed to be there....but encouraging that a few of the native creatures that live in that area were curious about what was going on. I hope they will be happy with what's coming...a gourmet restaurant for caterpillars and their friends. Hopefully they won't be little piggies (like what happened to the coneflowers) and will leave some of the plants for me. That's what I hope. :-/

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Hottest day on record since Van Halen's 'Jump' was number 2 on the charts!"

That's what Brett Anthony (NBC's Meteorologist) said this morning and I believe him. What I don't believe is anything that that Drama Queen weather site says.

But dang, the numbers they come up with are so darn um, I confess, I could not WAIT to follow the Drama Queen weather site from the get-go this morning to see what their final "count up" would be by the end of the day. Forget about the regular news for a record-breaking weather day like today. Sometimes a dramatic day needs a dramatic news service to accurately report the.....emotions? It certainly would not be temperature.

The morning started in the mid-90s. Drama Queen and the regular weather stations were pretty similar with their heat measurement numbers. By noon it was getting hot.....hotter....and then the numbers started taking off. It got to be soon got to 105....and then it stayed that way. Was that it? Sure, 105 degrees is hot, but it did not seem like a record breaking number..........but then, Drama Queen's numbers started to shoot up, up, and up. What was going to be that final number? Would it be 108....109.....110......111..........

113.9 (but feels like 110)???????

I told Dick about this not disappointing but absolutely crazy temperature reading (after we had to evacuate the building for a fire of all things!) and so Dick thought he'd check his favorite (and boringly truthful) weather site to see what was really going on...and his site was not too far off from what I was seeing on mine.

But then my favorite weather service reported this...

Dick said his favorite weather service reported this...

Well, by that point, the temperature had climbed past 117 or 190, depending on who you do or don't believe and I remembered that Michael Ray was in the backyard and thought I better beat it home before he spontaneously combusted or something.

I got home. Michael Ray was fine. Resistant actually, to being moved. I carried his kicking body into the house and set him down on the floor and he started pacing....taking a living room chair with him....knocking it down. And then he walked to the back door to let me know he wanted it open so he could get out. I pretended not to know what he wanted. He stomped into the bedroom, started pushing a plant stand, knocked it down, and then stomped back to the back door. Errrgh. I had had enough of him so I put him back outside in the inferno and let him settle down in his new favorite spot to hang out this summer....a place that Cathy Jean usually calls hers. And she would have been occupying that other favorite square foot area in the backyard if she was outdoors, but she wasn't. Cathy Jean spent the day indoors because she got tired of the heat the night before and when I saw her waiting at the bottom of the deck steps to be let in last night, I just let her take a day off from thinking about weather.

And there you have it, even turtles don't know what the real temperature is outdoors. One thinks it's too hot. One thinks it's just fine. And I think I'm going to stay away from that Drama Queen weather site....until maybe 6 months from now when I watch them enthusiastically and inaccurately report plunging temperatures well below zero. And you know, when they do that, I'll be sharing the same enthusiasm. :-)