Can I Bug You A Little?

One needn't leave their own yard in order to see an amazing world
teeming with life.

Now granted, that life may be less than attractive to some...
but to me it is utterly fascinating!

We often think of insects as merely pests,
without giving much consideration to all of the services that they 
provide to Mother Earth.

The long and the short of it is...
without insects, nothing else could survive.

Think about that, next time you consider squashing a bug!

The last figures I could find for the ratio of insects to humans on this planet 
came from some 2008 statistics that showed insects
outnumbering humans by 200 million to one.
That's 200 million insects for each and every one of us humans.
No thank you, I'll pass.

And yet... they have their place in the world.
Sadly, insect populations have declined over the last several years,
with about 40 percent of insects species suffering large declines.
On a day when gnats and flies plague us, that sounds like a good thing.
But... it's not.

The declines are the result of loss of habitat,
use of chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides,
and climate change.

Insects are the foundation of the food chain.
Many animals depend upon them for food...
and in some cases, not just any insect will do.

Insects are our pollinators.
Our own food systems are dependent upon them.
There are no substitutes.

We cannot keep blindly bulldozing our way through this 
world and its precious ecosystems.
There is a balance that needs to be maintained,
and we have tipped the scales.

Yesterday I was checking my patch of milkweed...
a weed that most people might pull, if it weren't a part of their garden plans.
I welcomed it when it first appeared in my house garden,
 knowing that it was essential as food for the monarch butterfly.

Knowing how very important it is for the survival of this beautiful,
declining butterfly,
I took handfuls of seeds when the pods dried and stuck them beneath the 
earth in my gardens at the barn.
Their cultivation was successful, and I am happy to say we now have lots 
of milkweed for the Monarchs.

But... back to yesterday....
as I was checking the milkweed for Monarch caterpillars,
I found a few other insects who depend upon this plant for their life cycle.
The Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillar -
(isn't he stunning?)

The Milkweed bugs (large) and their nymphs (small) -

and finally, after searching, I was elated to spy my
Alice in Wonderland monarch caterpillar.
Long antennae on the front... 
shorter tentacles on the back, made to look like antennae...
thus confusing any would-be predators.

Interestingly, all three, above, are toxic to predators such as birds.
It is thought that their bright colors serve as a warning :
"Beware... Not For Consumption!"

While I was busy inspecting all of the plants for insects,
Brown Sammie was busy scratching his back on the dry, dead front lawn.
Note how accurately he edits out his own boy parts.
Modest boy!

I could have spent hours studying the teeming insect life of my 
garden, but barn chores called me back to reality.
I headed out to gather eggs and feed animals.

I was surprised to find barely any eggs...

until I came upon this gal in one of the bottom nesting boxes....

who was doing her best to hoard the whole lot.

I am curious as to why this occasionally happens.
Most days there are one or two eggs in many of the boxes.
But occasionally, they all end up in one box.
I know the chickens cannot move them.
I am guessing that when one chicken becomes a little broody,
she lets the others know that she is available for egg-sitting.
And voila!
Just guessing.
I was a little sorry to take them all away from her!

I also stopped by Maven Haven to do a little plant watering.

There are several houseplants that hang in the shade of her porch.
One of which is this Purple Heart spiderwort.
Weeks ago, I took clippings from the one in my house,
and simply stuck them into a hanging pot filled with potting soil.
Liberal watering and lots of sun have made this propagating
endeavor quite successful.
As you can see, there is lots of new growth sticking up from the pot.

Come Autumn and cold weather, I will move all of these hanging plants
into my sewing room for the winter.
And don't worry... the other side of that "Go Away" plaque says "Welcome".

Well, I must go...
there's fabric in my sewing room and it's calling my name.
Yesterday was a busy day in My Etsy Shop...
so, I must get sewing again....
new designs coming.
So fun... so fun!
Have a lovely day!
Love a bug, today!

 PS: To answer a question from yesterday with regards to growing food in our greenhouse
during the winter months.  Yes, we would be able to grow some lettuces and spinach until the bitter cold months arrive, as there is no heat.  I do have a little space heater, but hate to keep it plugged in all of the time.  Also, our greenhouse is built onto the side of our barn (built by the previous owners). Because of this we do not have the advantage of using a full day's sun....but only the afternoon hours.
I worry that there would not be enough sunlight hours in the winter time for growing.  I would need the addition of grow lights, I think.

Kale is something that I could grow in the greenhouse through the entire winter, I believe,
as it is extremely cold tolerant.


Marsha said…
Interesting about the bugs!
daisy g said…
Oh, I have cat envy! I've been checking our milkweed for weeks and haven't yet spied any cats on them. Thank you for giving them a place to repopulate. They are amazing creatures.
Unknown said…
Love all the bugs, I too find them fascinating. Thankful for the internet to be able to look them up just by description.
And...thanks for the answer about the green house. Maybe you will have some winter kale, fresh garden greens sound good in a soup. Lisa G in TN
jaz@octoberfarm said…
i'm such a guilty ant killer. but, they keep coming in the house and i won't use poison so i just step on them. but i feel guilty every single time.
This N That said…
Bugs! Makes me itch. Feel like doing a Sammy dance. Enjoy your day. Hugs