Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Saturday: 28 August 2004

Kill all invasive plants  -  @ 15:31:17
They say you're not supposed to blog after having had three Bud Lites (thank goodness they said nothing about Krispy Kremes) so I had a fourth one and am right ok thank you. I needed those empty calories because as you know I have been filling the coffers of the right honorable Monsanto Co, or whatever they call themselves these days. Truth be told, like any smartco that ladles a coupla hundred megabucks to the True Values Party while simultaneously throwing a hundred M's the Pretty in Pink Party's way, I've been using my weakened buying power to purchase the cheapo generic version of RoundUp. I'm fair that way - not only do I pay obeisance to Johnson Wax in the form of Deep Woods Off, but I will deign to use, although only when stolen from my parents, Union Carbide's 6-12. And thank heavens too, since I ran out of the former today and those lunchin' West Nile Marys were out in force.

Since the Only War We Lost has been so on all our minds lately I've been doing my part to re-enact the agent orange in us all. And I'm pleased to report that I've just about gotten it all, only need to spot sneakin' stragglers before they succeed in doin' the deed and making more of the same.

I have so many pretty pictures, I don't know what to post, but the Helenium autumnale (I prefer the red ones!) are nice this season.

Thursday: 19 August 2004

more caterpillars  -  @ 09:47:03
Last night I was examining the partridge peas and ran across the little beauties pictured below. Found out they especially like legumes like partridge pea, wild senna, etc., and will turn into sulfur butterflies (Phoebis sennae, nice name!). I like the sulfur butterflies - they tend to latch onto you, especially if you're sweating. So I think I'll let them munch away; they don't seem to be doing much harm.

While I was looking that up I ran across (in Thomas Eisner's "For Love of Insects") the larva of Synchlora, a green moth. The larvae dress themselves up in petals of yellow asters (especially) and thereby avoid predators while munching away at flowers of the Asteraceae (particularly camphorweed, black-eyed susans, etc.). Drag queens move over!

Which reminds me of hearing Scott Simon on NPR Weekend Edition Saturday giving a tribute to Julia Child: with her 6'2 frame and difficulty in finding clothes that fit, she would shove drag queens aside to claim the last blouse in her size.

By the way, the above URL to Synchlora is very nice to read, and Eisner's book mentioned above is a treat to read. It's not a field guide - it's obviously a labor of love.

Tuesday: 17 August 2004

trash bug?  -  @ 14:24:25
Now here's an odd little fellow. I call him "Pigpen"! I could swear I saw that bit of debris moving, and yes indeed it was. Looks like he's picked up whatever trash he could find and stuck it on his back. OK, so how do they find each other? Do the males impress the females with the amount of trash they've accumulated? Type of trash? Must find out what he is!

UPDATE - it's a brown lacewing larva, also known as a "trashbug"! Here's another pic of it.

Monday: 16 August 2004

floodplain plantings  -  @ 06:56:49
I'm in need for some feedback on two or three native species of wettish sunny preference who are also vigorous growers. At the northern end of our property is several acres of floodplain just above and flanking Goulding Creek. I have most of the Microstegium eradicated from this area and am ready to begin repopulating with other plants. Currently there are christmas ferns here and there, and swamp sunflowers that dominate the forb population. Decumaria barbara is present, and the usual population of sweetgums, walnuts, tulip poplars, as trees. Along the creek are various species of ferns, mints, and asiatic dayflowers (non-native), as well as massive infestations of Microstegium where I have not eradicated it. Deer are abundant in the area and tend to simplify the ecology (they don't eat Microstegium though).

We collected peppervine (Ampelopsis arborea) and climbing hempvine (Mikania scandens) last year (both natives) and I have some potted plants ready to go. Both would be fairly happy in this area. I know both are vigorous growers and worry a bit about them taking over, however under the circumstances I probably need vigorous growers. Also, seeds could be washed downstream into other areas. However I'm also concerned about erosion along the banks of the creek. I have sources of elderberry seed and am considering planting this as well.

Questions: Should I be planting these things? Any native alternatives that are vigorous enough to withstand deer browsing?

Sunday: 15 August 2004

cardinal flowers  -  @ 16:08:21
I was surprised to find cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) volunteering in a fairly dry area. True, I had mulched it well with wood chips, but had not expected such enthusiasm. Might as well include a pic of its relative, Lobelia syphilitica, to the right. It at least was growing in its proper place in the bog.

The weather has been wonderful (I've been seeing this comment all over the place). Cool temperatures over the last two weeks, along with 3.5" rain from Bonnie has given everyone an unexpected boost in what is normally a dry hot period. I don't imagine it will last but it certainly has gotten us over the nasty period.

Wednesday: 4 August 2004

More wasps  -  @ 21:32:57
I was hoping to have a pic of the emergent adults but YKW didn't bring the bag home from the lab. He took a hornworm in (see below) to show the cocoons off to his students and the next day the adults started emerging. Braconids, definitely. The adults sip nectar while the kids engage in acts of horror.

Off to beautiful Fairhope AL for a few days.

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