Bee hovering by a John Cabot rose, with a Japanese beetle in another bloom

Nature Calls

We got away last week and spent time with family.  Their house is on a couple of acres that used to be a farm, so lots of growth, trees, and nature around us.  Day two found our youngest high-tailing it across the yard after having seen a snake.  At first we thought he’d found the only poisonous snake in these parts – the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake – but it turned out to be the Eastern Milk Snake.  Over the next few days, the boys saw a couple of garter snakes, two different varieties.  There are also Blue Racers in the long grass but we didn’t see any this time.  We’ve seen one before but normally it’s just garters.

I was walking today when the dog and I came across a yellow caterpillar with 6 black spikes on its back.  It was a good chance to take the photo from my phone’s camera and see if I could find a match using Google’s Image search.  No luck.  But it seems to be the American Dagger Moth, although I find it notoriously hard to tell from photos on the Web.  This was just down the road from our house but we saw a lovely Swallowtail butterfly at the farm.  We confirmed what it was by using a print butterfly guide, which was far more clear than randomly uploaded photos.

Bees are another critter I find fascinating.  Not the business, stinging end, mind you.  At the farm, there is a big red barn.  It has been well taken care of and is in good shape.  There is a large bee hive in the wall, so you can regularly see bees in one area on the outside of the wall and commuting to and from the local flora.  In fact, there was a large space of thistles flowering across the path from the barn and I had to warn the boys to give it a miss.  The bees were making a … bee line from hive to flower and back and it was a prime opportunity to collide and be stung.  There are also some lovely roses in front of the barn and they were checking those out as well.  In fact, one rose had both Japanese beetles and an industrious bee.

My walk home from the train after work takes me through a lovely nature area.  It’s one of the remarkable things about our town, the proximity of nature to suburban living.  Of course, many of the flowers are alien and invasive, but it’s still quite lovely.  I’ve spied a variety of creatures – muskrat, heron, finches – walking along the path home.  The bees have been busy there, working on the same thistles.  It gives me hope that the bee threat that existed for a few years may be diminishing.  We don’t encourage bees in our back garden because our dog attacks them but I would love to have a hive.

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