Chronicaling the lunacy of taming three acres in Tidewater Virginia, one square foot at a time!

"Gardens... should be like lovely, well-shaped girls: all curves, secret corners, unexpected deviations, seductive surprises and then still more curves. ~H.E. Bates, A Love of Flowers

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spinners and Flyers

I promised a post on a very cool web that we came across in the garden.
Built in the corner of the wrought iron archway that leads into the veggie garden is the most beautiful web...with a tangle of varying direction web above and below, suspended between is a perfect and precise dome. It has the appearance of a fisherman's net I think...definitely gives the feeling that something will be "caught."
It fascinates me that this Basilica Spider - Mecynogea lemniscata can weave a mess of web and then switch gears and spin something so delicate and measured. As I searched for the identity of the spider, I found it described in "The Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia" published in 1878(when their was no google.) The spider itself is also really interesting with stripes of brilliant green and orange contrasted with black and white...quite striking up close!

Another new visitor to the garden is the Snowberry Clearwing Moth, a small hummingbird moth which is more close in size to a large bumblebee rather than a hummingbird.
Interstingly enough, that bumble bee look is actually camoflauge that is meant to dissuade predators from eating them! (What eats bumble bees??) Unlike other "traditional" moths, the Snowberry Clearwing flies and feeds during the day, rather than at night.

Oh and as far as our mystery critters from the other day...they are Sawfly larvae. These are not harmful to the Birch tree that they are methodically eating from. Starting at the most distal end of the branch, they work in unison on one leaf at a time, consuming it completely before moving on to the next. They are funny little creatures that when approached, all rear up in unison. Although my tree will recover, I will be glad when they turn in to flies and fly away!!

Last, a few pics of one of my favorite Hampton Roads haunts...Stoney's Nursery and Farmstand is in Virginia Beach on First Colonial Road. They have hoards of plants and great local produce. Yesterday I picked up some radishes...they had a great radish bite. They also have a neat collection of garden "stuff" and for those who like animals, some goats.

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