Tuesday, May 28, 2013

In the "Click"

Recently I bought a little bird bath and staked it outside our bedroom patio.

I found it at a charity antique store and I just love it.  On either side of the basin are little metal birds.

I want to put a bird feeder in that area too, but it's hard to keep the chipmunks out.  I told Todd that I was going to grease the shepherd hook pole so they'd slide right off.  I'm still working on that theory!

I've been admiring the ferns, which are full and beautifully bronzed, all around the house.

I planted a few hostas...

...but honestly, it is really difficult to plant here.  I learned in my Master Gardener class that South Carolina once had about 25 inches of prime topsoil, but people planted so much cotton that they ruined the soil, and it blew away.  What's left now is the 'hardpan' that was once deep beneath the topsoil, and it's hard clay.

Digging a single hole and putting a plant in is like sliding them into a tough clay pot - their roots are unable to penetrate it.  You have to dig really wide and really deep so that the roots can spread and become strong enough to go deeper.

Surprisingly, we have some really vigorous worms here that seem to be able to pierce the clay with no problems.

Every morning, I've noticed lots of black beetles on our front porch.  I wonder if they're drawn to the porch light at night.

Oh, and the mosquitoes are out!  This one posed nicely for me.

His feather antennae told me that he was male.

After a recent rain, I found little slugs all over the garden.  This one was climbing on one of my vines.

Slugs' eyes are at the tip of their antennae...just like in cartoons!  ;)

The ladybug larvae are gone, and now I'm starting to see the mature ladybugs.

This one is having a leisurely time, cleaning its wings after a nice rain.

I've seen quite a few spiders, which you'd expect, since we live by the woods.  I think this one might be an immature lynx spider.  They don't build webs, but lay in wait for insects on plants.

They're quite hard to see and I was lucky to find this one.  He was almost translucent in the sun.

Another favorite is the Venusta Orchard spider.  They are quite lovely, with their black-tipped green legs and jeweled abdomens.  They build small webs between shrubs.  Venusta is latin for "charming" and "beautiful", and I would definitely put them in this category.

The most amazing insect I've seen so far here is the Eastern Eye Click beetle.  At 2 inches long and with amazing coloring, he's quite a charmer.

Eastern Eye Click beetles have 2 false eyes on their pronotum to warn off birds and other predators.

Eastern Eye (and other) Click beetles are so named because they are able to bend their bodies and make a dramatic clicking noise.  They are also able to "bounce" about six inches off the ground while doing so, which is another tactic to frighten off predators.

Seen horizontally, the false eyes are still prominent.  The real eyes are quite small and located a few centimeters above the false ones.

I've been thinking about starting an insect collection and this was the most tempting potential acquisition yet, but I just can't bring myself to kill insects for the collection, which is a pretty crucial part of the process. 

I hope to see more of these and other insects as summer progresses!

Speaking of summer, Todd and I have started eating supper exclusively in our little sun room.

Regretfully, these photos were taken on a cloudy day...but at least you can see the basics of it.  We have shades that pull down over the screens to keep the room cool.  One bamboo couch...

...one small table to eat on, and another for work (both built by Todd)...

In the corner, another door opens into our kitchen and living room.  I keep a big fern here, and I like to keep the doors open for nice ventilation.

It overlooks the little pond behind the house, and we just love it.  It's pretty sparsely decorated, but that's what we like.  We don't plan on adding any additional furniture.  The animals love it too, and they are often found sniffing the breeze through the open screens...or catching a few rays behind the computer in my office.

I hope you're enjoying the warm weather.  Have a great week!

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