Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mid-summer munchies

Plants are prospering with our sun and rains. And, the more they prosper, the yummier they get.

This poor petunia, complete to root plug, was pulled out of its pot, probably by a javelina, tho he/she didn't eat much. As a rule, I find that my petunias, the dianthus and the snaps are not buffet favorites.

Quite unlike morning glory leaves, which provide sustenance to all kinds of critters, including snails, slugs, grasshoppers, as well as leaf miners (below). Many years ago, I did see a leaf miner, which was a teeny-tiny caterpillar like animal who made his home in the middle of a leaf 'til it was time to emerge. The example below looks to have been eaten by two types of leaf miners, one leaving just a squiggly trail.

Fashionable restaurants boast of the nasturtium leaves and flowers in their salads, so why shouldn't arthropods eat them, too?

However, the leaf eater that has always puzzled me is our old friend, the javelina, who will munch out on prickly pear pads. He must have a belly of steel to handle those thorns.

Here is one of the chief munchers in my garden -- a genuine escargot; yes, the snails were imported from France long ago as a delicacy, but escaped and made themselves quite at home throughout the southwest. Somehow they manage to hang in there, hidden, through our drought months, only to emerge once the rains come. I haven't seen their cousins, the slugs in the past couple of years.

Another culprit -- he's still very small, yet look at how he's decimated that blossom! Grasshoppers can get pretty pesky later in the season.

This huge moth (5-6" wingspan) shows up periodically at night on my windows; therefore, you are looking at his underside. While I'd bet he/she only eats nectar, I'm sure there will be offspring sooner than later with a voracious appetite for greenery. Ditto for the butterfly (below) who was hanging around on one of my logs waiting for the sun to emerge from the clouds.


Antipodean Curmudgeon said...

Your escargot looks to be a dead ringer for the buggers that gnaw on all and sundry bits of greenry in our yard. Can't use pizen pellets on them as hound, Tootsie, test tastes everything in sight.


Anonymous said...

Super post. We sure have our share of snails and slugs.

Anonymous said...

I especially liked the photo after "squiggly trail", that showed a translucent layer of leaf surviving.

Also the last picture. It has a Madame Butterfly quality to it.

Anonymous said...

Sure a lot of critters keeping you company!

Hope they don't gnaw your entire garden.

~Anon in AV.

Granny J said...

bro -- he probably is a dead ringer. No doubt escargot were imported for the gourmet trade in OZ as well as AZ (and the rest of the US).

steve -- you may keep your critters. I have enough of my own.

boonie -- that's what the leaf miners do; apparently, they love the green part of the leaf & leave the rest. As for Cho-Cho-San, I think it's probably the colors as well as the design.

anon av -- I'm sure that I'm not quite a proper Amurican gardener, as I'm almost as interested in the critters and what they're up to as I am the plants

Anonymous said...

I was kind of neutral on the last comment because I don't like to sound like a gushy sucker-upper and flatterer.

But this post is a perfect example of the "Granny J principle:" somehow you find themes and things that are available to most people, but also overlooked by most. And then you work your magic and turn it into a wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

Ah, rv-boondocker:

It's okay to be a gushy sucker-upper! We're all huge fans of Granny J here, so you're in a "safe" environment.

Gush away! :-D

~Anon in AV.

Granny J said...

hey guys! I'm just a retired journo trying to be interesting. Of course, flattery will get youeverywheres!

meggie said...

What a great post! Wonderful photos of the critters!

Granny J said...

meggie -- I always like it when I can catch a pic of the creepy crawly things! They're often very, very interesting.

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