Saturday, January 11, 2020

What Bugs Me?

Fact: There are a lot of bugs that call Farm Dover home. Most I consider beneficial bugs and am happy to host them. There are a few bugs that I wish didn't like living here so much, but I (mostly) don't wish them harm; yet would be happy if they didn't show up in the first place. (I'm talking to you: houseflies, stink bugs and Japanese beetles).

One of things that bugs me is little visitors who are terrified by any bug they encounter. A ladybug can send them screaming. A spider can completely undo them. A praying mantis freaks them out. Only the butterflies escape their bad-bug radars.

For years, I have taken photos of interesting bugs discovered in my wanderings around our gardens, meadows and paths. I place the photos in a folder on my computer desktop, appropriately called Bugs of Farm Dover, but didn't have any particular thought about how I might share them. Until now...

I'm determined to help our young visitors get to know the bugs of Farm Dover, and hopefully to make friends with them, or at least not fear them. Granddaughter Hazel is my guinea pig.

For her 1st birthday, I made her a board book using some of my bug photos.

We read it together often and talk about all the good things bugs do, from pollinating fruit trees to eating not-so-good bugs. (I'm careful not to call them bad bugs.) When we are not together, she reads it on her own, studying each photo with laser focus.

Hazel has happily played with a roly-poly bug and a lady bug. I can't wait for this summer to see her toddle after some butterflies and attempt to catch a firefly, to dig for an earthworm, follow a daddy long-legs or pet a caterpillar.

I've already scouted out a bug project for us. Hanging from a sweet gum tree along our driveway are seven cocoons, that look remarkably like leaves still hanging on to the bottom branches. I discovered them just last week.

Inside each one is a polyphemus caterpillar that will one day this spring emerge as a beautiful silk moth, spread its wings to dry and then fly away to live for a few more days, just long enough to mate and lay eggs for the next generation.

In Hazel's book, I have a photo of a polyphemus caterpillar and of a luna silk moth (same family as the polyphemus moth). Just ask her; she can find the page with the right picture.

I need to figure out a way for Hazel and me to see these gigantic moths emerge. Maybe I'll get a butterfly cage and attach one of the cocoons inside it, placing it on the porch so we can see it from the kitchen window; or maybe I'll set up our field camera and try to catch the moths freeing themselves from their silk casings. In any event, I'm excited. Hope Hazel will be too!