Posts Tagged Pearl Crescent

Going Buggy

Bumblebee enjoying penta flowers

Bumblebee enjoying penta flowers

Wonder Spouse bought me a new camera last Christmas. I liked my old one a lot, because it had a built-in zoom feature. I’m not a photographer — more of a point-and-click documenter of things I think are interesting and/or pretty. But the old camera is starting to resist zooming, sometimes sticking, and repairing it would have cost more than half the price of a new one. So I have a new camera.

Ragged Pearl Crescent butterfly nectaring on a yarrow.

Ragged Pearl Crescent butterfly nectaring on a yarrow.

But I have resisted learning how to use it, preferring to nurse my old camera along. Finally Wonder Spouse couldn’t stand it anymore; he sat me down and showed me what the new one would do. What finally turned me into a new-camera user? The close-ups.

Fireflies mating on a kousa dogwood flower

Fireflies mating on a kousa dogwood flower

My old camera would never have been able to get these shots. And they’re still not as good as what Wonder Spouse gets out of my camera when he uses it. But even so, I’m tickled pink to be able to photograph little critters more easily.

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly

Some insect subjects were more cooperative than others. I chased the above damselfly all over the floodplain this morning. It never sat in one place for more than five seconds. The photo is not as sharp as I’d like, but the insect is at least readily identifiable.

Spirea 'Magic Carpet' blooms attract a diverse array of pollinators.

Spirea ‘Magic Carpet’ blooms attract a diverse array of pollinators.

The biggest insect surprise during my walkabout were the honeybees. I’ve known for years that they use evaporative cooling in their hive. They carry water to the hive and then fan it about with their wings to maintain a more even temperature. During droughts, I’ve often seen them visit my bird baths. They sidle up to the edge of the water, drink as much as they can, then fly off. But this year, for reasons known only to the honeybees, they have decided to drink from the little water feature in my front garden — the one full of tadpoles and murky green water.

See tje tadpole in the water below the bees?

See the tadpole in the water below the bees?

The water is deep enough for them to drown if they slip, and I’ve seen a few honeybee bodies floating among the tadpoles. Why are they drinking here when a shallow bird bath — with water I change daily — would be so much easier and less slimy?

A honeybee dips its head into the murky water of my tadpole pond.

A honeybee dips its head into the murky water of my tadpole pond.

I guess we’ll never know.

, ,

Leave a comment

Finally, Rain!

A suddenly abundant Silver-spotted Skipper enjoys a refreshed zinnia.

One of the suddenly abundant Silver-spotted Skippers enjoys a refreshed zinnia.

Two months to the day after the last drenching, inch+ rain event on my yard, the rains finally returned. My rain gauge registered almost exactly a two-inch total for the event. Of course, the airport a mere 30 miles away measured over twice that, but I’m willing to overlook that this time.

The only puddle that remained by this morning was in the driveway, and its size was modest compared to previous puddles. When I walked the floodplain this morning, the ground was not muddy anywhere, but it was at least not dusty anymore. And the grass grew half a foot overnight, of course.

Even though the rains came down hard for much of the event, little managed to run off into our creek. I know this, because the creek water level is still quite low. The water is muddy, but barely flowing — still an improvement over the thin thread that occupied that space a few days ago.

The little pond I showed you in my previous post is not full to the top, but the level did rise. Compare the following two photos to those in the previous post.

The pond level rose, but not to the top.

The pond level rose, but not to the top.

Compare this to the close-up view from my previous post:

Better, but not ideal.

Better, but not ideal.

Last weekend, Wonder Spouse decided to harvest his remaining two potato bags. The heat and drought were making the plants look pretty sad, and he was worried the tubers below might be adversely impacted if he waited any longer.

I showed you the harvest of Viking Purple potatoes in the previous post. All three varieties Wonder Spouse grew this year began as a pound apiece of seed potatoes. From that, his yield was 6.3 pounds of Viking Reds.

Viking Red potato harvest

Viking Red potato harvest

The new variety he tried this year, Marris Piper, yielded 7.3 pounds of smaller potatoes.

Marris Piper yield with a pine cone for scale.

Marris Piper yield with a pine cone for scale.

Potatoes are never tastier than when they are freshly harvested, and we have been enjoying frequent potato feasts. Any way you prepare them, the flavor is astonishing if you’ve never eaten anything but old tubers from the grocery store bins.

The other vegetables remain productive despite the drought. In fact, I suspect that the drought is the reason they are still doing so well. During last year’s highly unusual rainy, cool summer, the beans, tomatoes, and squashes all succumbed to fungal diseases quite early in the summer. This year, I’m still picking lovely zucchinis. Two of the six plants have surrendered to the evil squash vine borers, but the other four are still valiantly producing, aided, I suspect, by numerous enthusiastic honeybees from my neighbor’s hive. Thanks, neighbor!

A soggy carpenter bee dries out beneath a cosmos flower, where it likely sought shelter from yesterday's rains.

A soggy carpenter bee dries out beneath a cosmos flower, where it likely sought shelter from yesterday’s rains.

Speaking of pollinators, the almost completely absent butterfly population is finally showing signs of returning, no doubt aided by recent rains. The local experts on the lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) chatlist are theorizing that the previous unusually cold and sometimes wet winter killed most of the overwintering larval stage of these insects. We’re finally beginning to see some, probably migrants from areas that weren’t so adversely impacted.

So far in my yard, I’m still seeing almost no swallowtails, but the little skippers and other small butterflies are now showing up in the numbers I expect, especially now that the flowers have been fortified by adequate (for now) rain.

A battered Pearl Crescent rests on a milkweed leaf. I've seen no Monarchs this year, alas.

A battered Pearl Crescent rests on a milkweed leaf. I’ve seen no Monarchs this year, alas.

I did spot the first bright green Praying Mantis of the summer a few days ago. It was loitering in a marigold growing next to my beans. I usually don’t notice these predators until about this time of year, as they grow larger in preparation for egg laying.

Speaking of egg-laying, just before the rains hit yesterday afternoon, I noticed the Carolina Wrens nesting in a pot on my back deck were covertly flying back and forth — a sign that at least one of the four speckled eggs they’d been tending had hatched. I tried to get a peek this morning, but only managed to annoy a damp Mrs. Wren snuggled inside the nest.

 

That's her unblinking eye staring at me.

That’s her unblinking eye staring at me.

A bonus with the rain is an influx of below-normal cooler and drier air, which is predicted to linger for several days. For me, that means I’m out of excuses regarding weeding and other plant-maintenance tasks. But with moistened ground and a refreshing air mass, digging in the dirt will be a pleasure, not a hardship.

The rains are predicted to return in a few days. Perhaps now that my yard has been re-moistened, some of the future juicy clouds will choose to visit soon.

Here’s hoping all our gardens receive the rain they need to flourish.

Welcome back!

Welcome back!

, , , , , , ,

2 Comments

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: