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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Katie did it.

One of the most interesting things about starting a new garden in a new area is seeing all the new wildlife that arrives. I don't mean birds and squirrels, but the insects. I enjoy new species of plants and bugs the same as I would seeing a new species of bird or mammal. Some may find this odd, but in my opinion, it makes my life more interesting, because I can enjoy all of nature, not just the cute and fluffy things.

When you first start a new garden, its pretty sterile. Nothing really visits it, especially if your neighborhood is bland as far as biodiversity. Most people keep ornamental plants that are over bred, and then spray them with chemicals, because god forbid they have to look at a spider once in a while.

After the "sterile" period, the "pest" period begins. This is when the news gets out that you have opened the salad bar, and they appear in droves in the tenor of Homestyle Buffet. Typically the aphids appear first, and they did in fact, but I hadn't planted anything weak and sissified (aka roses and hibiscus)  so they came and went very fast and didn't do any damage. The locusts have also come and gone for the most part. Those that stick around are great Chili toys, being both fast and tasty. Or so he lets on.

July has been the month of the katydid, with more than I've ever seen in my entire life, including this big guy. Who was stuck to the window screen by a leg, necessitating I rescue him. He thanked me by pausing to clean his antennae while he sat on my hand, and allowing me to watch him do so.

The real interesting ones were these awesome green horned caterpillars that appeared in decent numbers on my red Guara plant. There were four big ones today but one was not very gentlemanly and didn't want to be picked up. So he kept vomiting his dinner on me to make me go away.  Like any bad romance his tactic eventually worked so I had only these three guys to hang out with:

The Three (non vomit-y) Caballeros

I liked the variation in pattern. They were hard to photograph because they wouldn't sit still. A little googling tells me they are the larva of the Spinx moth, likely Hyles lineata the white lined sphinx moth. It's a huge moth that can hover like a hummingbird. I've seen them a couple times, and their size is a bit intimidating. I'd like to see one again, and they pollinate some uber rare native California plant, so I'll be letting these green dudes live.

They seem tame and docile until you get them too close to each other. When personal space disapears, they do like any civilized society would naturally do and try to beat each other up, using their heads like hammers and biting the invader on the back.

I kick your ass yo.

 So all in all, a nice, bug boxing filled evening.

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