Jitters And Slithers

Well, it is time for another instalment of the bugs we find fascinating in our yard. I’m not going to lie, there are a lot of bugs in the yard, which we have shared throughout the years. This year there is a lot of the same, and a few newbies to the party. We haven’t been focussing quite so much on taking photos of the life we find in the yard these days, but we did catch a few. So here we go.

Ichneumon Wasp – I believe that is what this little fella is. He hung out on our door for a few days without moving much. He did eventually leave, but he was interesting to watch. Turns out that not only does he look cool, but he is also extremely beneficial to the garden. Often the hosts that they choose to lay their eggs inside (yes, very cool), are pests in the garden. Once their larvae hatch, they consume the host. Due to this reproductive cycle, they can often help through biological pest control by helping manage pest populations. If you see one of these sleek bugs chilling out, leave them be. They will help your garden.

Bull Snake – Possibly…This one was hard to get a good view of since it was happily heating itself under the rocks in our front garden bed. We didn’t actually notice it until we disturbed one of the rocks close to it while we were looking at the flowers and its movement caught our eye. Based on the little bit we could see, we believe it is a bull snake which is a very common snake in our area. The darker colour and diamond colouring is very similar to a rattle snake, but this one did not have the rattle, leading to our believe it was a bull snake.

Garter snake – Possibly. Again we weren’t too sure, and only Kurt was home to take photos of this one. Based on the photos, and the distinct looking lines along its body, I believe it is a garter snake, also very common in this area and especially in gardens. This one was found in a debris pile in the back yard that was covered with a tarp. Lots of bugs and activity in the nicely heated pile and lots of decaying foliage for a good bug ecosystem. Likely this guy went in for some warmth and a healthy meal. We let him be, and made sure the dogs didn’t disturb it. Snakes are great for the garden in helping keep pests under control.

Slug – YUCK! I don’t know what it is with slugs, but I really cant stand them. Possibly because of their slimy nature and possibly because they are a major pest in the garden. Luckily this one was found in a debris pile, the same one as the above snake, far away from the garden bed. It was a pretty good size so Kurt made sure it didn’t survive the photo shoot. We didn’t need it finding its way to the garden. In all my years in this town, it is only recently that I have started to see slugs. We are semi-arid desert, somewhere I never thought slugs would be an issue. Yet here we are. The ones we have seen the last few years are a very pale white like little ghosties. This one was much different than the others. Hopefully we don’t find any more.

Wolf Spider – BOO! This guy is perfectly situated at the top of one of our celery plants to pop out and give you a scare. Luckily I had noticed its extensive home and funnel, so I was able to avoid the scare and managed to catch it sunning itself in wait for some prey. I have left him alone for now since he will hopefully eat up some of the pests we deal with in the garden. Eventually though he will need to be evicted so that we can enjoy the celery it has made a home of.

Daddy Long Legs – Or Dandy Long Legs. I am never sure which it is, but either works. We get LOTS of these guys in our garden. This year they seem to be much larger and fatter than they usually are. This guy was not so happy that I was looking for worms on the broccoli leaves. Since he is likely helping with some of the pests, I left the plant alone so as not to disturb him. He can enjoy the home if he keeps the aphids, worms and other cabbage pests away.

Ten lines June beetle – or June bug for short. These guys are common in this area, but it has been quite a while since I have seen one. They are very large, which can be intimidating when they are in flight. They are also a little intimidating when on the ground due to their size and the look of them. They look like they would be aggressive or “bitey”, but they are pretty harmless. The worst part about them is the little spines on their legs which get caught in any fabric or hair, making removal of them off you challenging and a little panicky. They also hiss when you get too close, but again, it is just a defence mechanism, which really amounts to nothing. This guy was hissing at Kurt while he was weeding, and it took Kurt a few minutes to find him. Originally, he thought maybe he was disturbing a snake.

Grasshopper – I am sure there is a much more technical name for them, but I liked how neon green this one was. We have lots that are dusty brown, tan colour or brown and green, but not many this brightly coloured. I know that they can be a major problem in gardens and devastate some plants, but we have found that they rarely cause any issues in our gardens. Though, I did catch a tan one eating one of the broccoli leaves the other day, so he had to go. This guy was clearly having a snack on a strawberry leaf. You can see the evidence of his snack in the top right of the picture. I left him because I saw 3 large wolf spiders around him that were likely waiting to make a meal of him. Since the spiders help with pest control, I figured I would leave them a bigger meal. I hate the wolf spiders in the strawberries, but we find we don’t have nibbled berries when they have setup shop in the tower, so we manage a very borderline co-existence. They probably don’t like my clearing of their webs each time I harvest the berries, but they seem to manage just fine in remaking them. They also do a bit of acrobatics jumping from the plants as I am cleaning them out, vacating the area long enough for me to get the berries without touching any of them. Ugh, I just got shivers thinking about it.

Anyways, we will keep our eye out for any other interesting bugs we find and will try to snap more pictures to share.

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