Monday, August 27, 2012

What's been bugging me

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?

19 comments:

amy said...

my husband is seriously afraid of praying mantises. but the rest of us love them.

Joy Lake said...

"Hey, wait a minute...which one of us is Gimli?" Humph!" hahahahahhahahah

Love this post. When you were telling me about the bees and the wasps it sounded epic. Now you throw in the butterflies and the praying mantis?!?! It has all the makings of a mini series. Really, what a saga!

Both the picture of the praying mantis and the wasp hive make my stomach turn...though the hive is pretty incredible.

Jodi said...

Amy, give your hubs a high five for me!

Jodi said...

Joy, I think it could be the makings of a 48 Hour Film Fest. heheh.

Southern Gal said...

I knew it was a praying mantis when I saw the poor butterfly wings. They creep me out, too. We have wasps who decided to nest in the corner of our home under the siding right beside our patio tomato plant. It makes for an interesting time harvesting tomatoes. Dumb ol' wasps. We have the spray. Now if someone can get up the courage to actually spray them...

I can't wait to see what you make with the wings and bark.

Leslie said...

Those wings are lovely, but your tale is pretty grisly. I had no idea that praying mantis preyed on butterflies. Our neighbors are beekeepers now. Apparently they have been, for awhile, but we didn't know, because they are good beekeepers and the bees were happy, at least until they got in a WAR with some neighboring bees, or something like that. (That was the day Emily and I saw hundreds of bees flying around our back garden.) I had no idea bees had wars! Anyway, all is well and quiet again, in our neighbor's bee kingdom. Glad all is well in yours, too. I love the image of Legolas and Gimli fighting wasps :)

Olivia said...

I love your posts! The part about Legolas and Gimli definitely made me laugh. Victory to you in all your garden-battles!

Bronwyn said...

I don't think I'll ever get tired of hearing the story of the praying mantis and your five-year-old self. As much as they freak me out, I might have to start looking at those critters with a new perspective now. Ehh, no, probably not...Anyway, I'm glad you were able to save the bees from those wasps. Can't wait to see what you come up with from the wings and wood you've collected.

Jodi said...

Southern Gal, I knew you'd understand. I've heard it's best to spray a wasp nest at night.

Jodi said...

Les, I've missed our chats. xx

Jodi said...

Olivia, thank you, my fellow Hobbit. Signed, Belladonna Took. NOT Gimli.

Jodi said...

Bron, <3

Sara said...

Jodi, your tale of the praying/preying mantis is horrifying! I would not be able to watch that. It reminds me of the one time I watched a spider into whose web a fly had been caught. I think I was about 10 at the time, and fascinated to see the spider creepily run across it's web to the fly and begin bundling the fly, buzzing and struggling, in a cocoon of web. I felt slightly sick afterwards and avoided seeing such things after that!

On the beautiful side of things, however, that bark is wonderful, and so are the butterfly wings. I will be interested to see what you come up with.

Jewels said...

Sadness {poor butterflies}, and gladness {you didn't get pinched again, and knowing that you'll do something redeemingly-special with those lovely, delicate wings--finder and keeper of them that you be}. Wasp's nests, they are so beautiful indeed. Rosie, has a happy little collection of them going, which is always a delight to see. xo

Nancy Franson said...

Wait. What's a Gimli? He he he.

Do you remember my story about the caterpillar my boy raised, and how when it emerged as a butterfly we placed it on a hydrangea bush to dry its wings? And it wandered into a spider nest? And I loosened the butterfly's feet from the snare of its captor?

Nature can be so mean. It's all in rebellion, you know. And yes, please make something wonderful with all your bits and pieces of it.

SUGAR MOON said...

Love your post!!! Have a great rest of the week!

Beth Stone said...

You're pretty brave to rush into the middle of a bees-vs.-wasps battle! I saw a neat thing someone had done with bugs' wings lately - they put them into jewelry (pendants, earrings, rings, bracelets). They encased them in some kind of glass slide-like things (but that were round), and then soldered around the edges. They were very pretty and definitely unique looking. You could try something like that! Poor little butterflies... :o(

Anonymous said...

Dear Jodi,
Praying Mantases are so cool but then I am SO mad at them for killing the Swallowtails!
The bark and the Butterflies do look like a very splendid color combination.
Those Wasps!!!I am so scared of them.
~Audrey

Connie Smiley said...

How fascinating, Jodi, and beautiful! How could you not take sides?

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails