Monday, June 23, 2008

Where the Wild Things Are

  • A monarch butterfly was "puddling" (drinking water and minerals) in the backyard early Saturday morning. Hopefully she found the scarlet milkweed next to the brush pile and laid a few eggs before going on her way.
  • There was a gray bird grasshopperSouthern California's largest native insect at four inches long—in the front yard. I disturbed it by accident and it flew across the yard but I found it again hiding out under the doorknob to the back gate.
  • The side yard has been colonized by at least five adorable woolly bear caterpillars that will turn into garden tiger moths before too long. They are chomping away at the weeds so they are more than welcome to stay as long as they want. (Not that I wouldn't welcome them if they were eating all the veggies too.)
  • Found a little green katydid living in the weed I call horseradish that may or may not be horseradish.
  • Some kind of orb weaver spider was spinning her web in the blackberries the other day, and lots of spiders that make hammock-looking webs also seem to have made a good home there.
  • A couple of weeks ago a beautiful brown dragonfly took a little time out of his day to do some sunbathing on a sycamore twig; there were several other dragons buzzing about over the weekend. I believe it's about dragon season...
  • I believe I saw a male lesser goldfinch mixing it up with the house finches and house sparrows the other day. He was perched on the top branch of the sycamore. Even if it is dying (and I maintain it's just napping), the sycamore is a wonderful bird perch.
  • I saw my first green fruit beetle of the season this weekend. In fact, he was quite enthusiastic about spending time with me. He flew into the car and was quite adamant about wanting a ride, but I finally coaxed him out. Love these guys: Iridescent green and always rumbling loud like B-29 bombers.
  • In addition to all of the above, a slew of the usual suspects: honeybees, hummingbirds, spiders, crickets, hoverflies, European paper wasps, ground beetles, ladybugs, squirrels, finches, doves, scrub jays and more.
  • Stumbled across a Southern alligator lizard the other day. I suspect he stops by to snap up crickets when he can. There's a water dish in the herb garden that's pretty well-shielded and I like to think he lives under the herbs and drinks there when I'm not looking.
I believe that the wildlife web I'm trying to foster will only get richer by the year. Every season that the creatures have water, food, shelter and nesting resources available to them is another season that a new species can arrive and set up housekeeping. Larva are placed into the soil one year, they hatch the following, and then they themselves become prey perhaps of another species. I'm also adding new food plants and microclimates every month, so who knows who might be attracted next. I hope and expect that next summer will be have even more species vacationing or making a home in the gardens around our house.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.