May 17th, 2010

breeden

Tidbits of Animal Behavior and Beetle Porn

I was out yesterday taking garden photos, and a good thing, too–we had a thunderstorm last night that finally soaked the ground completely, and also blew my pepperbush into serious disarray, stripped the petals off my poppies, and left my sundrops heeling over hard.

Still, worth it for the rain. It’s been a really really dry spring. Plenty of my native plants are profoundly drought-tolerant–I b’lieve you can actually grow Texas sage on the surface of the sun–but it’s normally so soggy and the clay holds water so well that I’d taken to planting a lot of swamp species, and they’ve been needing supplemental watering.

Among the things going on yesterday was lots of beetle sex–those are flower longhorn beetles over there, on an oxeye daisy. I have a fair number of the oxeyes–it’s a common invasive weed here, but it stays in the driveway and the Deathbed, and frankly, it’s low on my list of things to annhilate. (Maybe after I get rid of the screaming buttweed and the stiltgrass and the blackberry inching up on the back of my beds and that one spiky thing in the front that I do not trust in the slightest…)

Anyway, it was a regular beetle orgy on there on the daisies–the daisy fleabane was also home to a great many beetle couples. Flower longhorn beetles are common around here, and the Asian longhorn is a serious pest, but it’s hard to find out any information about them beyond “By the way, the Asian longhorn is a serious pest.” They like flowers and larvae bore through dead wood. That’s all I know.

I also saw a Carolina wren using the in-ground watering hole as a birdbath. It’s much too deep for a tiny bird to bathe in, and there are perfectly good birdbaths a few feet away. But what he’d done was to inch down the stick (placed for dragonfly larvae toclimb out) and was clinging to it with his feet and splashing his wings and breast into the water.  It seemed like a lot of work for a bath, but he seemed to enjoy it (and I’ve never seen a wren in the other bird baths, come to think of it.)

There. Black and white. Now it's art.

The third thing I saw that was definitely peculiar was another case of Omnivorous Squirrels. This one had a long bald strip down the middle of his back, like a part in a bad weave. Disgruntled at his inability to reach the newly baffling bird feeder, he stomped over to one of the small logs bordering the garden, grabbed a bit of bark still attached to the log, and yanked it off.

The ant colony that had apparently been hanging out under the bark immediately panicked, and the squirrel reached his head in, grabbed a mouthful of ants, and stomped off.

That was a new one on me.

 

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