Sunday, April 18, 2010
Psst, little catapiller, do you want some candy?
Hello, my name is Sheryl, and I have lured a butterfly into my garden. Not only that, but I encouraged eggs to be deposited for the sole purpose of entrapping a young, innocent butterfly child in my back yard. I am unrepentant.
I am thrilled to report that the dozen fennel plants I put in the ground last fall are doing their job. I was hoping that a swallowtail butterfly would lay some eggs on them so I could hatch butterflies in the yard. It worked! I've been inspecting my plants since it warmed up a few weeks ago and discovered the tiniest little creature last weekend. He was barely as long as your fingernail and just a sliver of a little thing. Today he has ballooned into a two-inch behemoth who is munching down on one of my bronze fennel plants. I am hoping that he continues to grow and doesn't end up as lunch.
I've got eggs on other stems, but I think they are too bright yellow to be Swallowtails. I suspect these are from the Gulf Fritillary butterflies that I've also seen hanging around. I really don't care, I'm just honored that my fennel was chosen as a nursery.
I've also scattered dill seeds and have some tropical milkweed starts growing on the patio. I am hoping to lure some Monarchs with these. And then of course there are the citrus trees. There is a particular Swallowtail that loves to eat those leaves and now that I know what they look like I won't pick them off like I did last summer.
I also found a snake today while I was hilling the potatoes. I am not sure what kind it is, but I think it is a Rough Earth Snake, Virginia striatula. It was a tiny little thing and at first I just though it was an earthworm - but he wasn't moving. When I picked it up for a closer look it stopped playing dead and wriggled out of my hand. Lucky for me I'm not afraid of snakes. This particular kind of snake eats slugs, snails and earthworms. It likes to live in leaf litter - which is where I found it, so I've got plenty of habitat!
From a sterile patch of lawn has emerged a neighborhood hangout. To see that all my hard work has not gone unnoticed by the local wildlife is immensely satisfying. Now if I can just figure out what will eat the cockroaches that invade my compost I will be set. Maybe the fire ants will keep them out. Hmm, fire ants as a garden helper? Who knew?