Not this time, caterpillars!

I refuse to get sucked into swallowtail caterpillar drama AGAIN this year. Sure it’s warm today, but I know that October starts this week and the nights are definitely cooler.

Decisions have been made and nature is on it’s own. Enjoy the parsley! At least these late in the season fools can overwinter if they get big enough in time.

Multiple stages of growth all on the same plant.

The Perfect Butterfly Storm

Briefly I had the most glorious and perfect caterpillar to chrysalis moment. My little squishy dude who was polite enough to stay close to home went into the J position on a Sunday. I checked on it frequently.

At 7 a.m. on Monday before leaving for work, I checked again. Little dude was doing ab crunches, but had been considerate enough to wait for me to really get the party started.

I run late for many reasons, mostly cat related. Once 3 days into the official lockdown, I was so anxious and sleep deprived that I backed my car into my rising garage door just as hard as I could, effectively self-isolating. Thankfully my neighbor was able to rescue me so I could go be anxious and sleep deprived at a second location.

However I have never had the opportunity to be late because a caterpillar was going into a chrysalis and I GOT TO SEE IT LIVE!

The video is pieced together clips because I wanted to be able to text MomBert the event. It’s shaky because I was squatting in my yard at 7a.m. and that was too early for my legs to think about such things. The entire process took 6 minutes based on my photo time stamps.

When I left, the chrysalis was still wiggling about. I showed anyone who would stand still long enough my amazing experience. That afternoon, I came home to a beautiful jade green monarch chrysalis with gold accents. In 8-12 days, hopefully a butterfly would head to Mexico.

Sadly, this is where my perfect storm ended. Friday afternoon, my chrysalis was gone. Presumably it became someone’s snack pack. Only the silk pad remained.

Even as I squatted to take that photo yet another growing caterpillar was munching milkweed in my ear.

J Position!

Me outside whispering to the ONE caterpillar who has made it to the J position and stayed in a place where I can observe it:

“You can do this little, buddy.”

His/her ungrateful peers chose to flee the scene this morning for spots on the other side of the fence. If only they had met my neighbors.

The top caterpillar actually pooped on the one below.

“If anything comes along to snack on you during this vulnerable time, I will absolutely lose my shit.”

Caterpillars stay this way for almost a full day before the final shed into a chrysalis.

“It’s all riding on you. No pressure.”

Hummingbird Hover

The garden has been hoppin.’ Lately I have had reliable visits from monarch butterflies and hummingbirds. They both enjoy the butterfly bush.

I noticed that hummingbird also frequented a purple salvia plant at the back of the yard. In hopes of getting a better picture of it, I gifted the hummingbird (and myself) with two big planters of salvia. Results were immediate.

Rest break! Which may mean it’s a juvenile.

Standing inside behind the patio door, I was able to joyfully observe and photograph it. However I was startled into confusion when the hummingbird appeared directly in front of my face for an extended moment.

With a camera in one hand and iPhone in the other, a blurry Sasquatch/UFO version of this closeup was all I could handle. The hummingbird stayed for what felt like a long time for a wild creature and I’m not sure if I was being rewarded for the flowery treat or assessed for future tactics.

Hey, Bun!

I have a small bunny who reliably finds the game camera in the yard, and acts like I’ve set it up for a photoshoot.

It got really hot recently and I did not see the bun for a couple of days. Usually I would see it in the mornings and early evenings more or less deciding what to destroy in my garden (pepper plants seem to be the answer). I was concerned. There’s traffic and plenty of predators.

However I discovered that the bunny just opted for a cooler time of day.

T80

There’s a possum also trying to get in on the photo action. We’ll see how it goes.

T80

Another harvest

Garlic scapes harvest

Savory, concentrated

Edible delight

Yes, you can eat them! Grill them or dice them up and use in dishes. They are straight garlic goodness. I ate one while I worked.

Garlic scapes grow from hard neck varieties of garlic. When I cut them, it signals the plant to use energy on growing the garlic bulb. Left too long, the scapes become hard and chewy but create a pretty corkscrew shape.

Allegedly garlic and plants in that family help keep certain molds away which is why there is some garlic around my roses and throughout my flowerbeds in addition to the garden space.

Ants Can’t Handle the Truth

Despite it being spring AND May, the weather has fluctuated from the 30s to the 60s and back again. As my yard and garden comes back to life, I’ve been making slow attempts at cleaning and bringing things out of their winter state. The temperatures plus the most insane time in the school year has not helped my progress. I’d certainly rather be gardening, but there are 20 gazilliion post-it notes and reminders that need my attention.

During one episode of shuffling around the patio, I rearranged and cleaned some ceramic pots. Days later, when I was briefly back again, I noticed that one pot now had mounds of dirt around its base.

It had been colonized. The pot sitting directly on the ground against my back patio window, practically inviting entrance to the house was full to the brim with ants.

Life lesson: ants cannot handle the responsibility, nay the temptation, of a pot sitting directly on the ground.

It was the only pot on the patio without those apparently crucial ceramic feet lifting it an inch off the ground. When I picked it up, ants poured out of the drainage hole. I rolled it over on its side to decide my next move.

I couldn’t murder them outright. They must serve a purpose in my garden. However I also wanted to use that pot without being swarmed and I did not want them building an addition into my house.

Ultimately I tipped the pot upside down in the garden, revealing hundreds of scurrying bodies and a collection of larvae. Hopefully the next tempting spot to squat will be more appropriate.

Zoom in to be either fascinated or grossed out.

What to bring to the picnic table.

Not pineapple.

I gave the squirrels one of those tubes of pineapple that might have hung out in the fridge for just a little too long for my taste. They were not impressed.

I had envisioned squirrels running amok, jacked up on natural pineapple sugars, but what I got was some nibbles and then one morning it was just gone. I think someone just chucked it over the fence, creating a mystery find for one of my neighbors.

As an apology, I created this somewhat phallic apple and corn on the cob combo. It led to some suggestive squirrel images, but culinary results were not much better until I begrudgingly went out and sliced the apple up.

I’m your private dancer, a dancer for corn kernels….

My audience was not thrilled. “Hey, lady!! Dried field corn! That’s all we want. Maybe an  amuse bouche of sunflower seeds.”

Trash Panda visited and gave the selection maybe three stars. I love the stealthy approach and that he or she looks like a giant bear in comparison to the table’s size. While the raccoon did make some night time visits, it showed up more often in the early morning around 7:30 or 8 and in the early evening around 9 pm. I guess I need to pay better attention when I look out my windows.

Much as I would love them to eat the tomatoes that aren’t going to make it on the vine, old apples, and whatever aged exotic fruits I have on hand, they really just want dry corn, sunflower seeds, and peanuts. Peanuts are amazing! (I’m told)

I discovered that I can pretty easily throw a bunch of images together into a time lapse sequence. Here are the squirrels? A squirrel? tearing through their favorite treat.

Squirrel Trends

The squirrels don’t know it, but they are on trend right now. Or at least it feels like they’re trendy because ads for tiny picnic tables keep popping up in all my social media feeds. Even @chunk_the_groundhog now has a tiny picnic table. (He also has a family of 3 babies!)

Adventure Buddy’s husband decided he could craft tiny picnic tables rather than buy them from Lowes, and was nice enough to gift me with one. It took my squirrelly crew two days to find the table, but they are now nibbling at it one kernel at a time, then freaking out and leaping away.

It reminds me of this video that a friend shared with me. Yes, it’s 21 minutes long; but if you are fascinated by squirrels’ antics and leaping abilities, it’s worth the watch. Clearly this guy used his quarantine time much more productively than I did.