Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Nature's Way

A break in the heat--finally! And, I trotted back out to the field, enjoying the coolness of this morning's air. I had seen a Robber Fly there a few days ago. And hoping to get a better picture of him standing guard at the flowers, I returned to that same spot. Maybe it was the change in the air, or time of day--he was nowhere I could see. The bees are safe today.
Without my chosen subject, I stopped for a minute. A little oak tree just beside me was looking rather spindly--barely leafed and naked. A covering of plump, juicy caterpillars explained why.

Yellow-necked caterpillars, arching in their defensive posture had almost denuded the tree. And, if I felt especially attached to this little oak, I probably would have returned with a bucket and plucked them from its branches. But as I stood contemplating the pairs of hairy eating machines, looking like Lady and the Tramp sharing between them, a single noodle--I decided to let them be.It's an eat or be eaten world out there--and I'm hoping nature will take care of this one for me.
The Forest Service says natural enemies (birds) generally keep infestations in check.

Female Eastern Pondhawk eating moth.

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RuthieJ said...

Hi Nina,
Do you know anyone in your neighborhood who has chickens? A couple years ago I had an infestation of some type of fuzzy caterpillar on my red twig dogwoods. I picked off a whole bunch of them and took them to a friend who had chickens....they loved them and ate them all in no time!

nina said...

I've dropped tent caterpillars into our pond before--fish really love to gobble up wormy treats, too!

Cathy said...

Ewwww. Wish I could stifle my squeamishness and face those squirmers with more stoicism, but - eewwww.

Check out my latest post for Olga, our local botanical garden's horticulturalist, and her solution to one kind of bug pest.

What a capture - your Pondhawk photo.

possumlady said...

Yes, nature usually takes care of itself. This year was a BIG tent caterpillar year here in the DC area. Everyone was complaining and my black cherry tree was almost completely stripped clean as their nests were too high up for me to reach (I could almost hear people clucking in disapproval as they walked past my house and saw the tree). Yet, I was fascinated watching the robins and blue jays flying by with mouthfuls of them. So what eventually happened? We had a bumper crop of robins and blue jays this year, my black cherry tree had its second leafing and all is back to normal.

Mary said...

Sometimes I want to interfere, too, Nina. We're sensitive to natural things that will take care of themselves.

I love enlarging your photos and see such great detail.

Jennifer said...

Wow. That pondhawk eating a moth is spectacular. I've never seen a dragon eat something that much larger than itself.