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Random Things In The Garden

So my hickory tree—the big one outside my window—is being systematically defoliated by a pack of walnut caterpillars. They are large and look stingy, with their long white hairs, they congregate in groups, and they are quite large. Even a relentless friend of wildlife such as myself will admit to bein’ a little squicked out. Given their size and how actively they move, it’s kind of like having a group of boneless, elongated mice crawling along the tree.

They are also going to be eaten by more or less everything, so that’s okay.

In happier news, new species keep on appearing in the garden—I’ve added the Rosy Maple Moth, Hoary Skipper (very similar to the far more common Silver-Spotted Skipper) and check out what volunteered in the pasture area up front! (Some day I will hire somebody to mow an edge around it so it looks more intentional and less like Two People Who Don’t Give A Shit Live Here,* but honestly, the neighbor on that side is a beekeeper AND has rusted trucks in his yard, so frankly, he doesn’t care. And the soggy area down at the bottom is getting increasingly interesting. I put in the Joe Pye Weed and the Swamp Sunflower, but this stuff showed up all on its own.)


Common Rose Pink, aka Sabatia angularis aka Rose Gentian aka Bitterbloom

It’s a biennial and will hopefully seed enough to return in a year or two, as I am perfectly delighted to have it in residence.

The starry rosinweed continues to host All The Butterflies All The Time.


Om nom nom nom nectar nom nom imsopretty nom

And I found this little guy on the dwarf ironweed. He looked…pointy. If anybody knows what he is, give a yell!


I steeeng you!

*Not that this isn’t true.

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

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That pretty yellow and black guy is a tiger swallowtail.

He's no problem--it's the caterpillar that's plaguing me!

Hi Ursula, garden question: I started listening to your podcast last week and just got to your experiences with the short-toothed mountain mint. Now that you're getting semi-epic rain is it running everywhere or is it still under control?

Actually, rain doesn't seem to send it wild. It's all down to dirt compaction, near as I can tell. It sprints in loose garden soil and is slow and clumpy in clay.

Gorgeous! Love the bitterbloom.

Virginia Tiger Moth maybe?

Congratulations on the rose pinks. Pretty and they smell so lovely.

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I can't reach! They're waaaaay up the tree!

The mystery caterpillar may be:


A Yellow Woolybear, which considering it is white, no wonder it's confusing.

Just keep telling yourself it isn't an un-mown, lawn it is a valuable reserve of biodiversity.

I hope the local wildlife finds the walnut caterpillars delicious.

My Calico-hen used to really enjoy ants. When I found a line of them for her, she'd peck them up as they went by.

I was over at http://bugguide.net/ looking for your caterpillar (maybe a salt marsh caterpillar / tiger moth?) and did you know that there are carnivorous caterpillars? I know butterflies often "drink" from waste and dead/decaying things, but I didn't know that they could be actively predatory!

*grin* Well, I knew about the Vampire Moths...(Yes, they really exist!)

Yellow Wooly Bear perhaps?

Om nom nom nom nectar nom nom imsopretty nom

Love this caption!

Sabatia angularis - yay for wildflower ID, because that same flower came up at my place (western central Virginia, up near the foothills) and I had no idea what it was. One new thing learned today!

I will plead off-topic, but I've been wanting to share this picture with you, because the first thing I thought of when I saw it was that one of your pictures had come to life: http://www.flickr.com/photos/richard01293/7225847338/

That picture reduced me to baby talk at the cuteness in about 0.2 seconds.

We've got walnut caterpillars on our walnut trees. I thought they would be tasty treats for our chickens, but our chickens are apparently not fans of caterpillars. At least they chickens like the squash bugs that plague our garden.

I'd vote for the Virginia Tiger Moth, too, which is also the Yellow Wooly Bear mentioned.

I'm hanging out right now with a friend who's a farmer, and Wednesday while harvesting melons, we saw a monarch butterfly eating one of the slightly-damaged cantelopes. It was awesome! I didn't know they did that.

Allow me to explain just how awesome you are: I actually read all the comments on your post to see what kind of catepillar that was.... AND I'M AN INSECTOPHOBE!!! O.O

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