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A few notes from the garden…

WARNING: Biological Icky Bits Ahead!

Guess what I found!?


I’m a larva!

This peculiar devil is the larval form of the American Carrion Beetle! How cool is that? (They feed on mushrooms and dead bugs as well as rotting meat, so I hasten to assure you that I do not, in fact, have dead bodies rotting in the woods. At least, to the best of my knowledge.)

Spring sprung and was promptly batted aside by summer, so it’s hot and humid in the garden, and I am trying to stay ahead of the stiltgrass with copious amounts of mulch, because the flamethrower is questionable in a dry pine wood and would also take out all my nice jewelweed that has established so marvelously.  Thinking of trying to fight it by transplanting in Virginia knotweed, which is an aggressive loon of a plant, but native, attractive, and host to a couple of butterfly species. (I have the variegated form, “Painter’s Palette,” which comes true from seed and boy, is there a lot of seed!)

Other than that, everything is blooming, the pollinators are out in force, I had a Zebra Swallowtail show up the other day (an uncommon butterfly in this neck of the woods!) and the pond is full of frogs and predacious diving beetles. On the downside, the weird cold/hot/cold/hot weather sent most of the spring veggies straight to bolting, so I got no daikons, some very sad beets, and the tomatoes are already starting to come in. Lost a bunch of peppers, too. Sigh. But the cucumbers and squash are happy, and I am holding out hope that the peas will produce a batch before the heat exhausts them. (A lot of local farmers just gave up and plowed the peas under. Can’t blame ‘em. This has been demented weather.)

Craw-Bob is still in residence. Haven’t gotten a good look at him, but we’ve got the night vision cameras and just need to get them working with the house network. Mostly he’s a flash of movement into the hole as I go by.

The Patio That Shall Not Be Named has been graveled, sanded, mortared, and now needs bricks. I’m traveling at the end of the week, but hold out hope of getting it done before June rolls around. (All productivity must be crammed into this month, because June is solid travel and July and August will be miserably hot.)

I had a bit of a wildlife mystery this morning. Was going out to feed the birds and found—there’s no other way to say it—a pile of viscera in the middle of the path. Somebody had left their guts in a neat pile on the ground.

Being me, I of course immediately poked them with a stick. Yup. That’s guts, all right.

Guts and….earthworms?

For whatever weird reason, there were a bunch of dead earthworms in the pile as well.

I wracked my brain—had something vomited and lost guts and earthworms together? Was this some kind of weird version of an owl pellet?—until I realized that the earthworms were from INSIDE the guts. Our deceased gut-owner had been out eating earthworms, and had quite a solid meal, then something jumped him, eviscerated him, and presumably ate the tasty bits. (I would have thought the viscera WERE tasty bits, but apparently somebody was picky.)

My guess is that the victim was a large frog, but I’ve got no idea what the killer was. I tossed the remains out of dog range—hopefully either Craw-Bob or the carrion beetles will find it and start the clean-up process.

So that’s all the excitement around here at the moment. Guts! Bugs! Mulch! THRILLS! CHILLS! ETC!

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.


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Hm, maybe the predator felt threatened and had to drag off their kill in a hurry and that's what fell out. I've seen cats run off with their kills several times. Mine just never left much behind.

That's amazing! What a trooper that bug is!

Someone needs to write a new verse to "High Hopes".

It looks like a trilobite!

I guess they are not very closely related, other than being, what is it?, arthropods, or some such.

Convergent evolution?

Oh Lord, even Lj has spellcheck these days...

I had a bug that looked quite similar to that larva show up in my room the other day. I've no idea what it actually was, and I've never seen anything like it before (here in Sweden). It was very fast, creepy as hell, and right next to my bed, so it had to go.

Tidy piles of viscera round our house, discovered by the trusty bare foot method, were definitely cat leavings. Different cats have had different habits with the shrews which were their commonest prey. One would just eat the head, another all but the head - or at least separate body and head far enough not to be discovered on the same day, but one definitely used to leave little piles of guts in random places through those parts of the house she was allowed in throughout the summer. (Well fed cats do not bother with the hard work of hunting in winter, but in summer that is a girl to do with so much scurrying tastily in the field next door?)

That was my first thought-bird innards. Although if it had been raining enough to force the worms up to the surface, it might have been a frog....

"That's the trouble with nature. Something's always either stinging you or oozing slime onto you." --Calvin (to Hobbes)

Carrion, my wayward grub,

There'll be peas when you are done.

Oh, OW!!!

And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Holding my nose and weeping!

IOW, great pun!

Bet I'm not the only one thinking "but if there WERE dead bodies hidden in the woods behind her house, Ursula would use them in a story..." I mean, seriously; plot goldmine!

Very cool beetle. As someone who has an apartment with a postage stamp sized yard that I share with neighbors, I love your garden stories and photos. I'd love to see what kind of spiders you have in there!

Well, if you were going to have dead bodies at least you know something will be eating them. The innards do sound like something got a bird (The early bird got his worms - then got jumped by a cat!)


Thank you for existing.

As you were. That is all.

Today, and yesterday, a pileated woodpecker attacked my house. I thought of you. I don't know why, except that perhaps being a birder you'd understand why the silly bugger would grab onto my window frame and BAM BAM BAM BAM on it. Personally I think he's a teenager trying to impress the ladies, and not having a $300 truck with a $1200 stereo and $2000 subwoofers, he's just making noise any way he can.
Oh yeah, he wasn't digging out carpenter ants, by the way- they're vinyl windows, and he didn't damage them. Yet.

Edited at 2013-05-21 01:53 am (UTC)

Meanwhile, it snowed in Alaska on Friday/Saturday! We broke the record for the "longest winter" (number of days between first snowfall and last snowfall for the season).

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