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Hello Little Guy

August 8th, 2013

One day, Mr Chiots and I were sitting out back under the maple tree taking a break and we noticed this little guy walked across a log.
caterpillar 3
I grabbed my camera to take some photos so we could i.d. it. A quick google search leads us to believe it is the caterpillar of the white-marked tussock moth. From what I read, they defoliate trees and the birds love to eat them.
caterpillar 1
They’re rather interesting little caterpillars, so intricate with so many different kinds of hairy tufts.
caterpillar 2
This is one of the things I love about gardening, you get to see so many interesting thing, particularly insects. Check out this spider I spotted the other day. I told Mr Chiots that I found Shelob in the garden. It had a grasshopper all rolled up in it’s web.
spider
You just never know what you’re going to see when you head out into the garden every day!

Have you spotted any beautiful insects recently?

Toadpoles

May 11th, 2011

Last year Mr Chiots and I installed a small pond in our garden. We filled it with goldfish and surrounded it with rocks and plants. Sadly our fish didn’t make it last summer but we did see the occasionally toad soaking in the pond. We let the leaves collect in the pond over the winter to get a good layer of natural muck in it before adding some new fish this spring. We figured this would make the water more like regular pond water. So far it seems to be working as our fish have survived longer than they did last year (last year they got the ick).

When I was out looking at the pond a week ago I noticed toad tadpoles – or toadpoles as we call them. It’s super excited to see the pond swimming with thousands of these little guys. Why was I so excited to see so many toadpoles?

Toads are one of the best forms of “organic” pest control that you can have in the garden. They eat slugs and many other common garden pests. When we first moved in, our garden were infested with slugs and earwigs. We didn’t want to use any chemicals, so layed a few boards in the flowerbeds to attract toads. The next year we saw a big toad and ever since then I rarely see a slug or an earwig.

To encourage toads to move into your garden place a few large flat rocks or small boards in your flowerbeds. Installing a small pond will also attract not only them but other beneficial things as well, like birds. Of course you’ll want fish to keep the mosquitos at bay. You don’t necessarily need the pond, but it sure does help if they have a spot to reproduce.

Toads appreciate moisture all season long, so if you make sure you have moist areas for them to encourage them to stick around. Perhaps you can keep one area of your garden watered more than others, add some water loving plants. You can also install simple water features for toads, beneficial insect and birds by placing a pot saucer on the ground filled with river stones. Make sure you dump out the water and add fresh each week to keep mosquitos from breeding (although mosquitos feed bats, hummingbirds and other animals so I don’t worry too much about them either).

Be warned, if you use any kind of treatment for slugs, even “organic” ones you can inadvertently kill toads, frogs, birds, and fish. So don’t use them if you’re trying to attract toads to your garden. Remember, if you want a beneficial insect or animal to move in you often have to allow the pest insect population to reach a certain level to attract them. You may lose a crop of something one year, but you’ll save so much time and money by not having to use pesticides (even organic ones). You’ll also end up with a healthier ecosystem in your garden, which in turn makes your plants healthier!

Do you have toads in your gardens? Do you do anything specific to attract them?

Peppermint for Beneficials

September 17th, 2010

The peppermint is blooming in my garden right now and the bees, butterflies and other pollinators are loving it. I’m so happy that it’s blooming at this time of the year when nectar and pollen are quite scarce. I love watching the peppermint patch as it’s abuzz with all types, sizes, and colors of pollinators.





I must divide these plants and add more clumps around the gardens. I know they can be invasive, but in my woodland gardens invasive things barely hold one against the saplings and wild flowers. I find myself trying to incorporate more and more plants that bloom and provide nectar or pollen throughout the season just to provide sources of food for these lovely little insects.

Do you have any plants blooming for the pollinators? Do you plant with them in mind?

The Flight of the Monarch

September 13th, 2010

Earlier this year Mr Chiots and I watched The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies. It’s a documentary about the migration of the monarchs. I’ve read about this incredible natural wonder before and always thought it would be neat to see. We have a few monarchs around here in the summer, I see them occasionally, but yellow swallowtails are our most prolific butterflies.

Last night about 7:30 Mr Chiots and I headed out to take Lucy on a walk and I looked up at the sky and noticed a few butterflies flying over. Then I noticed a few more. We kept watching and noticed they were monarchs and they were clustering high in the trees above Chiot’s Run. I couldn’t get any photos because they were high up in the trees and it was getting dark. It certainly was an amazing site to see them clustering up for warmth and to see so many of them flying over. We may try to get up early to see them leave, although we’re not sure when that may be. These monarch will most likely we overwintering in Florida to return next spring. Here’s some interesting info about monarch migration if you’re interested.

Do you have monarchs in your garden?

Quote of the Day: Nathaniel Hawthorne

July 11th, 2010

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued,
is always just beyond your grasp, but which,
if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Yesterday afternoon when I went out to the compost pile I noticed a butterfly on my raised bed. I looked closely and realized that it had just emerged because it’s wings were still slightly crumpled. I quickly went inside to get my camera and happily took a few photos while it waited for it’s wings to get stiff enough to fly. What a beautiful stroke of luck! I believe this is a Spicebush Swallowtail.

This past week I’ve been noticing more and more butterflies in the garden, I don’t know if it’s the type of flowers blooming or if they’re all emerging with the heat, probably both. I’ll have to spend some time in the garden this week trying to get a few more photos of the various kinds of butterflies that visit the many beneficial flowers here at Chiot’s Run.

What butterfly is most common in your garden?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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