Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Creepy Crawlies in the Garden

After spending decades in gardens, I still find new creatures I have never before seen and I still get excited when I discover a new one. I found a little guy this week that I am unable to identify. I see salamanders or salamander-like creatures a couple of times per summer, but I have never run into a bright orange on like this. I tried to identify it online, but think I will need to pay a visit to the bookstore, unless someone online can help me out with it.

A couple of years ago, toward the end of the summer, my big discovery was bug sex. We have all heard about the birds and the bees, but I never really thought about bugs "getting it on" (so to speak)...that is, until I went on a butterfly photography expedition. Milkweed grows in abundance at Joppa Hill Farm, which is located about a mile from my house. I spent about three hours in the blazing sun, wading through long grass, to watch monarch butterflies. At the end of my spying, I spotted a monarch swooping toward the back of the field. I ran through the waist high weeds, with large photography bag on my should and tripod under my arm. the butterfly swooped and dipped and was soon joined by another. Then, they dove together into the field. I moved toward them and found them sitting on top of one another alight on a flower. (Wow! Cool!) I waited and waited. Then they fell off into the grass. I waited some more, hoping to get some photos of movement, and hoping that the butterflies would take off in their exhilarated frenzy and start dancing some more. They didn't. I waited. then, I got tired of waiting. I was hot and thirsty. I went home. (Wow! Butterfly sex is boring...but it was still really cool.)

So, last year, I went looking for bug sex. Lo and behold! It's more prevalent than you would think! Grasshopper, ants, flies, dragonflies...and yes, even bees...right in the open, just waiting for the voyeur to watch. I was truly fascinating!

This year, the creepy crawlies that are in my garden seem to be primarily of the amphibian/reptilian type. My husband has let our lawn go long a couple of times this year. I've met more than the number of snakes in the grass that I would like to meet. (Ah. That means NO snakes!) For, although I enjoy my creepy crawlies. I do not like snakes. I try and try to like them..just like I keep trying to like peppers..but I am afraid of them. (I'm afraid of the snakes. Not the peppers.) Last week at a local lake, the lifeguard whistled us out of the water because a water snake was booking it toward the shore. His little head was raised menacingly and I swear he was coming right at me!

I love worms. They are always welcome. The japanese beetle season should be starting soon. They are not welcome. I have lots of spiders, especially in the gazebo I just painted. They are welcome, but I'm not going to touch them and pet them like I do my worm friends. I will admire them from a distance and thank them for helping to care for my garden from a distance. I appreciate my creepy crawlies, whether they are old, new, useful, beautiful, troublemakers or in a hot and bothered frenzied. They are all really interesting. Don't you think?


Daphne said...

It looks like a red eft. Though I haven't seen them around my house, I see them every year in western MA when we go camping. They are pretty red in their land phase then turn a sort of icky green brown in their adult aquatic phase.

Linda H. Feinberg said...

It is a newt or eft. Very common in NH.


I've seen them all grown up then I guess. I've never seen a red one. What I am wondering is, what species is it?

Anonymous said...

Eastern Newt, subspecies Red Spotted. (Notophthalmus viridescens) Found from Nova Scotia to Florida. Isn't it cute?