If Tiger swallowtails are a bit scarce in this year’s garden, hummingbirds are not, though typically only one is seen at a time, so taking a count is difficult. A tropical Firecracker plant (Cuphea) in a pot on the deck just outside the kitchen window is a hummingbird magnet, but I often see hummingbirds on the red flowered cannas beside the koi pond also.
Again, there are white flannel moth caterpillars in the redbuds, though too few and too late in the season to be of concern. I do not spray to be rid of them, but last year there were none, for whatever reason. As I recall, this is a caterpillar with small spines that sting, so I will approach the redbuds carefully to avoid inflicting unnecessary pain.
In prior years the caterpillars stripped several branches of leaves, but the premature loss of foliage did no harm. Certainly, the small, white moth is not a beautiful addition to the garden, but the loss of a few leaves is not a tremendous sacrifice. I acknowledge the difference for the homeowner with a single redbud on his plot, and this is, of course, the luxury in having a large enough garden so that sharing with wildlife is welcomed.
A caterpillar of unknown provenance is slowly munching leaves of the swamp milkweed, but doing far less damage than hordes of marauding aphids. The aphids, not the caterpillar, are an annual invasion after flowering is completed, and little harm is done other than making the milkweed look horrible a few weeks early. Seemingly, the aphids go on to something else, somewhere else after the milkweeds are gone. Oddly, aphids do not infest other types of native milkweeds in the neighborhood.
After a lengthy, and notable absence, two Northern Brown water snakes were seen yesterday, one of the few sunny days in weeks, which I suspect is the reason for their appearance, sunning on boulders beside the pond. Koi remain shy this summer, perhaps cautious in the presence of the snakes, but also due to blue and smaller green herons that are commonly seen coming and going.
The sealed container of koi food stored beneath a bench by the pond has not been disturbed for weeks. Perhaps neighborhood racoons have realized the difficulty in opening the container after many tries, and several efforts to drag it into the bushes.
I have noticed the first nibbling of hostas by deer, a reminder that the last spray was seven weeks ago, and with over a foot of rain through this period it’s a small miracle that a molecule of the repellent remains. I must spray this weekend, but this has been delayed several times by imminent thunderstorms.
I see that deer have decimated several healthy clumps of the neighbor’s hostas. Signs directing deer across the street are working, I tell him, but several deer bed down in the thicket beside the garden, so every day I delay there is a risk.
The portly, yellow cat that regularly prowled the garden is not seen any longer. The neighbors are frequently heard outdoors (mostly their kids, who evidently do not own electronic devices, a rare and tremendous credit to mom and dad, I think), but not often seen through our dense plantings. We don’t talk as often as we should, so we’ve not heard bad news about this once frequent visitor. As is usually the case with overly domesticated cats, I suspect hunting instincts are greatly hindered by the easy life. In any case, all comers to the garden are welcome, though we reserve the right to squirt foul tasting substances to discourage munching by some four legged beasts.