In my last post, I was talking about amazement, and asked the question "What amazes you lately?" My friend Aqeela from Remembering the Days..., commented:
"I am always amazed by the amount of creatures in our garden, hoverflies, shield bugs and bees are the most common at this time of year. Do you get lots in your garden? Enjoy them or not so keen?"
Thanks, Aqeela, you inspired me to write about something that I've been meaning to share for awhile. It falls under the "not so keen".
Last summer I kept finding fragments of beautiful butterfly wings on our deck. Every morning, there they would be. My first thought was that our cats were catching and killing them, leaving their remains by the door like they would do with a mouse. Until one day, while sitting outside, I witnessed something strange and horrible. A beautiful swallowtail landed in a hanging basket of flowers above my head. It lit on a petal, then began to spin wildly. It was so strange. The next things I saw were two butterfly wings minus their middle floating to the ground. Minutes later, another butterfly landed. I grabbed my camera, climbed up on a chair, and watched.
Can you see it - the creepy, leering, nasty praying mantis just above the sweet, innocent, fairy-like butterfly about to become its victim [gag, shudder]? I despise praying mantises. I've loathed them since I was five years old when one clung pinchingly to my baby finger. I screamed so loud that my dad came running. "Kill it, kill it!" I cried. "No," he said, lifting it off my finger. "See how its arms are bent like it's praying? You shouldn't kill them." Praying, my eye. Preying - more like it. I hate them still. And watching it grasp the butterfly and eat it head first all the way down to the end was the stuff of nightmares. Uggghh.
Our next buggy problem was my fault, really. At the end of summer when the nectar run slows down, it is recommended to feed your bees a sugar syrup to supplement. I got the bright idea to put the sugar water in a bottle near the hive. Turns out it wasn't such a bright idea, as it attracted wasps. My guy, coming in from the backyard, said "We've got trouble in River City". "What?" "The hive, it's in trouble." We ran out to see our honeybees in an epic battle with these huge black and white wasps. The wasps were trying to enter the hive--a situation known to beekeepers as robbing. Anyway, there we were joining in to save our friends the bees. We were able to dispatch some of those nasty villains, swatting them with whatever we could find. Not very smart, probably. But still, we love our honeybees, so into the fray we went. "You know, we're kind of like Legolas and Gimli," my husband said. "I know, right?...Hey, wait a minute...which one of us is Gimli?" Humph!
Now, you might think I'm telling a tall tale here.
But here's the proof. We found the wasps' nest a little ways away from the hive among some bushes in our yard. I have to admit it is a thing of beauty.
And speaking of beauty, I saved some of the painted wings and pressed them in one of my sketch books, along with some tree bark I had found. Seeing them side by side makes me want to create something with them. Ideas, anyone?