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. :-/

8 comments:

Leenie said...

Possum eggs. Harhar.
Too bad you can't take Tilly at her name and get her to focus some dog-digging in that hole you need.

Maria said...

Leenie-I know. That Roto-Tilly (love that name, Leenie!) is now best at sleeping on the job, literally. I miss those Roto-Tilly days. We were a good team...well, we're still a good team, we were just a more efficient one a year ago. :-)

Ellyn O. said...

I just KNEW I would find a smile here today! Forgive me for thinking Kansas was flat and ugly - the last photo was breathtakingly gorgeous. Gotta love Tilly - my beast that refuses to roll over for cleaning is Teddy. Maybe they have ESP or something. Loved loved loved your walking stick little guy and those itty bitty frogs.

Maria said...

Hey Aunt Ellyn-That walking stick was the CUTE-est. I kept playing with him until the sun went down. Little frogs are always cute. And although Tilly is really good at NOT rolling over, she's pretty darn cute too. Kansas IS flat but hilly in spots where my land is. Thanks for the compliment on the sky photo. I see so many pretty sunsets but my little point and shoot camera just doesn't capture what is really going on very well. Glad I managed one good one. :-/

MObugs said...

Beautiful pictures! I love the comment of Possum eggs.....mayhaps that is where myths begin? LOL
I believe your eggs are actually turtles eggs. Snakes are typically oval and your eggs look decidedly round much like turtle eggs would look. Could be snapping turtle? They lay their eggs away from water and the little turtles must make their way to the nearest water source on their own.

MObugs said...

after rereading your post I just noticed the size of 3/4 of an inch....you're right they MUST be snake eggs. Perhaps a prairie ringneck snake.

Maria said...

Shelly-I"ve been meaning to respond to your comments for forever. I've been so busy at work that it's been unusual to go to bed on the same day as I woke up. I just seemed to be working on something for 28 or 30 hours every day!!!!

I'm glad to hear that those eggs might be snake eggs. I would feel just awful if they were turtle eggs because they were accidentally rolled from where they were sitting next to a log and I don't want to know that I might have accidentally killed them. But then, if snakes suffer the same problem when they're still in an egg, that would make me feel bad too. I'm just going to think good thoughts and to be extra careful when I am in that area. Who knows what's moving around under all those leaves if they DO hatch? :-/ And aw, ringneck snakes? They're darling. I was thinking they might be rat snakes but what do I know? I just guess at this stuff. Ringneck snakes sure would be cute though...

Maria said...

Shelly-Hahaha. After rereading YOUR comment, I saw the possible ID of a snapper being up on the hill laying her eggs. Oh....that is a scary thought. I've only seen one and he was hanging out in a ditch doing nothing....do they really travel around in the woods??? Surely they're not that far away from water when they lay their eggs. Snakes I don't seem to have a problem with, snappers......I like to keep my distance so that neither of us gets too surprised to scare the other, if that makes sense. I guess ditto for the snakes. So much to learn, so much to learn....