Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Come for the flowers, stay for the bugs!

When I planted my garden, I thought I did it for the flowers, and to beautify my yard. Now I know that I do it partly for the beauty, partly because that's what women in my family do--we have some drive to plant things, even my sister who never once showed interest in gardening growing up has a vegetable garden now--and partly for the totally awesome bugs.

Really, we have outstanding insects. I find myself going out to the garden, not to gaze on the blossoms but to gaze at the things flying around the blossoms. Even the neighborhood's pet ginormous tom turkey likes to bask in our garden (don't have a photo of that yet, but my husband's seen him). I don't know what turkeys eat, but I sincerely hope it's Japanese beetles. With slugs for an appetizer. Turkey escargot!

Here are a few of our regular visitors:
This dragonfly was not as accomodating as my blue friend. He made me chase him around the yard like a groupie.

We have a couple of butterflies. I call this one the Greater Butterfly, because it has better color.

lesser butterfly
This is the Lesser Butterfly. Its lower wings are not as bright orange as the other's (not that you can tell from my photos).

We have diligent bees around the yard. I've learned not to interrupt their work--they'll chase me off if I get in their way. They've never stung either of us, and I need them to pollinate the vegetables, so we all live in peace together. In the spring, they are all over the silver-bell tree by the kitchen door. Conversation with my husband this past May, as he looked out the kitchen window:
"Hey, look at that tree," he said.
"Yeah, what about it?"
"It's covered in bees. We've got to chop it down."
"That tree has been covered in bees every spring for the ten years we've lived here, and you've only just noticed. Ever been stung?"
"Umm, no."
"We're not chopping the tree down."

However, we have a new member of the bee family buzzing about: a very, very scary hornet who's taken up residence in the garden:
scary hornet
I see him out there almost every day and keep a respectful distance.

But speaking of things flying around the garden, I have a confession to make: I'm not totally sold on the hummingbirds. I know, I know! But mine aren't that pretty (which, I guess, means I have females), and when they fwap-fwap-fwap around your head, it's like the biggest, scariest prehistoric insect is coming right at you. Seriously, the first time I saw one on the patio, I dove under the table. You hear their wings before you see them, because they're so frigging loud, and then you look up, thinking, "gee, that helicopter's flying pretty low," and instead you see this flying thing the size of your fist darting around you. It's a little scary, I don't mind telling you. I mean, they're fine to look at through the window, and I'm sure they're great pollinators, I'm just not sure I'll be buying a feeder anytime soon.

Not to mention they taunt me: I sat in my kitchen sink for an hour one afternoon trying to get a picture of the damn things (they favor that silver-bell tree), and they only came by after I put the camera down. Couldn't stay away from the tree until I got the camera out, but then... oh, suddenly there's better nectar elsewhere.

You'd be bitter too.


margene said...

You must wear red if the hummers fly so close. They can be rather disturbed if you are near their nest. The mails leave the female alone to care for the young. They run out and play and eat and have a jolley good time.

Carole said...

My hummingbirds are way more elusive than yours. I have a feeder and I know they use it but I very rarely actually see them. Nice bugs. Except for that black hornet. I actually think it's a mud wasp and they are really nasty. Stay far away from that one!

Laurie said...

Love the butterfly! Send me your hummers. I think they are magical. I can'tcan'tcan't get a picture of them. Too fast.

I have a cool dragonfly I'll post soon.

claudia said...

I'm not a big fan of the biting, stinging insects, but I really like the butterflies.

Norma said...

I think Carole is right about the mud wasp. Those things are horrid. I think it's amazing that you have identified specific butterflies and other insects. I never even thought to do such a thing -- they all look the same to me, and I guess it never occurred to me that a certain butterfly would come back to my yard!!

Maggie said...

Never had a hummer do a fly by, but I see them all the time at the feeder. There is supposed to be 3 different types in our area (Allen's, Rufous and Ruby-throated). Mostly I see females and once in a while a male or two. They are usually at the feeder every 10 or 15 minutes. I will admit, that the first time I saw one close (when I was living in California) it startled be beyond words. Enjoy them ...they are good to have around!