Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Build It and They Will Come

Or will they? When I decided to plant a butterfly garden I had visions of dozens of butterflies flitting about and visiting the flowers. I often see a butterfly or two but rarely do they stop and stay a while. I enjoy the eastern tailed blues and sulfurs that I see most often. The sulfers seem to prefer the dandelions in the yard.

What I didn’t think about was all of the other critters that would be stopping by or moving in.

I shouldn’t have been surprised at the hummingbirds as they like the same flowers as butterflies. I usually hear them before I see them. I had never seen one before this year. They usually startle me so much that I don’t get to really look at them.

We have at least two resident garter snakes. I swear the one was chasing me the other day as he started climbing the blocks next to the steps where I was! He found a hole in the skirt and slithered away under the house as I ran for the middle of the front yard and John came running to have a good laugh at me. I know they’re as afraid of me as I am of them and I know that they eat insects for me and I know that their bite won’t really hurt me if it should come to that but I wish they would stay out of sight.

Then there are the ants. Half of the property seems to be one big ant hill. Black ones, brown ones and every shade in between. They are aerating the soil for me, they don’t seem to be hurting any of the plants and for the most part they leave me alone. The biting ones need to go!

I’ve still got moles and except for leaving ridges in the garden bed they don’t seem to be doing any damage. I’ve done some reading up on them and I guess that they are also aerating the soil and eating grubs and ants. They don’t eat the roots of plants, that would be their cousins the voles which we seem to have gotten rid of. All I can say is that they’d best eat faster!

The grubs have turned into beetles which are feasting on my zinnias and hollyhocks. Other insects seem to be getting their fill too. So the ever helpful spiders keep spinning their unsightly webs in the plants. I have seen almost as many types of spiders as I have ants. So far the only caterpillars I have seen were the tent caterpillars that I’m glad to say are finally done.

I have never seen any standing water in the yard or woods. The gully in back is dry and even after all the rain we’ve had I haven’t seen water collect back there. So where do the toads and dragonflies come from? The nearest pond is almost a ¼ mile away. There seem to be three toads currently in residence. Did they hop all the way here? The dragonflies must also have come from some wet place. I don’t recall ever seeing them away from water before. I find myself enchanted by them. They often rest on the flowers by the back steps and come in a rainbow of colors.

I guess most of the critters were here before and in the yards of the other places I’ve lived but I’ve never taken the time to notice before.

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