Tag Archives: butterflies

Something’s Been Bugging Me…

This last week has been all about the bugs. Or, as my entomologist husband would say, it’s been all about the insects. As he has told me many times in the past, true bugs have sucking mouth parts. That being said, saying that something’s been insecting me doesn’t quite sound the same.

First off, at work our office has moved into a new building. And since it was being remodeled beforehand, the windows were always open. Which allowed plenty of insects egress into the building, where they happily set up shop. We have fruit flies, flies, gnats, ants, and a few cockroaches (which I admit, I also saw in Bricker Hall.) They are thinking about doing something to get rid of the little pests – I had one fruit fly that just flew around my head all day. Not a piece of fruit to be seen. I named him Fred.

Then on Friday night, we put some plants in my front garden because it was supposed to rain on Saturday, and I thought that would be the perfect time to get them all into the ground. Pete and I were nearly eaten alive by Asian tigers. We sprayed with Off! but the little blood suckers just laughed at it, finding the one centimeter of skin that hadn’t been coated. Of course, with dirty hands, swatting at them wasn’t the best thing to do. I finally gave up and swatted away; I looked like I had rolled in the dirt when I got inside.

As I was relaxing upstairs Saturday afternoon, Seamus, our cat, came up to lay on my lap, something he usually doesn’t do. I noticed he had all of this white stuff on his head, and in looking at it to try and figure out what it was, I noticed the white stuff was moving. I screamed at Pete, “Seamus has something alive crawling all over him!!” Pete took a sample under his microscope and declared Seamus had mites. As did Ciara. Walking dandruff is what it’s called. Of course, no vet was open, and all the on-line treatments were prescription only. Then, in combing a sample of the fur from the other cats, I found a flea. Of course, that meant that everyone had fleas. We were told at PetPeople in Clintonville to try diamaceous earth. It’s a very fine silica powder that somehow cuts the exoskeleton of fleas, drying them out and eventually killing them. It’s very safe to use. We sprinkled some on each cat and around the places they liked to lay, after washing everything we could. It seems to have worked on the mites – Pete saw some under the microscope, but they were all dead.

Today, I noticed that our burr oak’s leaves were looking a bit yellow and the red lace bugsoak’s leaves were turning brown. Turning over the leaves, I noticed lots (and I mean lots) of eggs and insects. Pete says they are lace bugs (you, know, the ones with the sucking mouth parts). Well, they certainly were sucking out the sap from those leaves. The red oak had more eggs that Pete couldn’t identify. Dang bugs – or insects! Or whatever.

Finally, has any noticed the lack of butterflies around, especially monarchs? Pete and I haven’t seen anythcabbage whiteing but a few black swallowtails, one tiger swallowtail, and one mourning cloak. We haven’t seen one monarch anywhere in Central Ohio. I’ve heard that the conditions for monarchs this year weren’t very good – storms and drought – as well as loss of habitat in Mexico. The only thing I’ve seen butterfly-wise are the cabbage whites, introduced from Europe.

We’ve got our new LOUA membership forms up – if you’d like to become a member, click here!

Until next time!


More Trees for the Arboretum

Last week some flatbed trucks carefully made their way through our street with some rather large trees on the back. I didn’t really take much note other than thinking that someone was getting some trees planted nearby. Well, it turns out that nearby was in the Arboretum.

I don’t know if you recall the process that was used to get the trees planted in the Arboretum. The curb lawns were measured, each treeless spot noted as well as the size of the tree that could be planted marked down. We had a few medium trees that weren’t filled in because there were none to be had. The city’s tree contractor¬†planted those remaining 50 medium class trees in the wide curb lawns over the past several days.¬† The species planted were Ohio buckeye and sassafras.¬† I think we now have the highest concentration of Ohio Buckeyes per square foot in the entire city. Pete, of course, has buckeye envy because our little buckeye in the backyard didn’t flower this year while those planted by the city are in full bloom. In any case, our thanks to the City Columbus and the City Forrester for giving us such wonderful, native trees!

The Buckeye nuts will provide food for squirrels, while the flowers will provide food for hummingbirds. Pioneers carried a buckeye seed in their pockets to ward off rheumatism, something I might test out as I get older and my joints get creakier. The state champion tree (the largest specimen in Ohio) for the Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra) is located in Huron County and stands 77 feet tall. That’s a photo of the tree to the left. The buckeye trees are one of the first to put out leaves in the spring and one of the first to lose their leaves in the fall. I always try to find at least one buckeye each year to keep on my desk at work for the Ohio State football season. Sometimes it brings good luck – other times it doesn’t!

The sassafras tree (Sassafras albidum) was important to Native American tribes, such as the Cherokee, who used the leaves, roots and bark for medicinal, food and construction purposes. Birds and other wildlife feed on the sassafras fruit. Butterflies are attracted to its flowers and also use the leaves as a host for caterpillars. Among the species of butterflies that are attracted to the sassafras are the spicebush butterfly and the tiger swallow-tail. And Pete assures me that the fall color will be spectacular. Along with the black gum, our little Arboretum will be quite the place to walk around in the fall.

On a sadder note, most of the ash trees around our neighborhood have fallen victim to the emerald ash borer. We have one ash tree in our yard that is fine so far (knock on wood). We are going to try our best to keep it healthy. As these trees are removed, we will plant new ones it their place.

Until next time.