Tussock Moth Caterpillar

We don’t have much milkweed around here (something I am working on). Milkweed has a hard enough time and this little one isn’t helping matters at all. Tussock Moth Caterpillars will eat an entire milkweed plant, taking it away from our very special Monarch Caterpillars. The Tussocks will also eat dog bane so they can gently be relocated.


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Crisis Averted

My adventures of living life in the woods are not always flowers & butterflies. 

Heading to work early one morning and I came across two crows on the road. They were cleaning up an unfortunate incident and having their morning meal. One of the crows was off to my passenger side and kind of hidden in the shadows. As he took off up and over my car I saw something in his feet. It was all slow motion after that and the words “No, No, NO!!!” came from my mouth as he dropped what was in his feet over the roof of my car – MY SUNROOF WAS OPEN!!! I did not hear it hit the roof of the car and was now completely freaked out that the intestines of something were in my car and more importantly near my one and only cup of coffee! I pulled over to find that his aim was off by only about a foot. 


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Rose of Sharon

Our Rose of Sharon are really starting to bloom!
Someone that came to our property a few years ago said, “The first thing I would do is rip those out.” I get it. They take over and can be a pain. What this person didn’t know is that they were one of her favorites. They were bought for her by her son as birthday presents. She is the reason we are here. I will trim them and pull any stragglers – as long as we are here, they are not going anywhere.

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Hickory Tussock Moth

I was collecting some Black Walnut leaves for the Luna Moth Caterpillars I am raising (that’s another story!) and I came across what I thought was mold. After taking a closer look – they are caterpillars! A lot of them! Turns out I think they are Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillars and will only eat the leaves from black walnut, pecan, hickory and butternut. They can cause mass destruction and if they eat too much earlier in the season, they could cause permanent damage to the tree, even killing it. Most research says to kill them but I will keep my eye open for more masses and spare them for now. I have only seen this one patch.

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Pretty Cranefly resting on some grass. Don’t worry, these big insects to not bite like a mosquito and are harmless. They only live 2 weeks or so in the adult stage, some feeding on nectar and others on nothing at all.

Fun fact: when you find the larvae in the creek it is always fun to watch the reaction of kids (and adults alike) when they realize that the gills are located on it’s back end. Therefore … It breathes out of it’s butt. 🙂


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New Dragonfly 

Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time. 

I barely even saw this one as I was walking up our power line path because it was resting on some tall green grass. Look how much it blends in! 

Luckily I startled it just a bit and it moved. We have lots of dragonflies here – mostly ones with black stripes on their wings (Widow skimmers) and they are jumpy and almost nervous (which isn’t really a surprise because of the anatomy of their amazing eyes!). This one would fly up, reperch, fly up and reperch. Thank you for allowing me to get such a good look at you and to experience your beauty first hand. This is a new species find for me on the property! An Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly! 

Turns out the Pondhawk gets it’s name because they attack their predators in the same way a hawk would. They can eat insects larger than them and even other dragonflies. When they leave the water and molt for the final time, the emerging immature adult is dull olive green but over the course of a few hours, the abdomen becomes bright green. Over the course of their adult lives the green of the male is gradually transformed into a duller shade of blue and finally a powdery bluish-grey. This one is either an immature adult or a female.

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We are constantly finding random things around here. Great Uncle Dick lived here to help take care of his mother as she got older. He was very much a “collector” of things and mostly just let them lay where he used them. We have found pitchforks, car radios, fuses and more car parts than I care to mention. This weekend Paul found this 5 foot chain as he unknowingly ran over it with the lawn mower and it shot out from under the mower deck. No one got hurt and it didn’t even tangle up in the blades. We have a saying around here when we find these things – but it has to be done with hands and fists in the air and of course always said with love. “Damnnnnn you Uncle Dick!”


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Save the Monarchs!

Look who decided to make an appearance earlier this week! I have been looking and looking for eggs and caterpillars with no luck. Seems like when I least expect it, they show up. There is something about the wonder of this whole amazing metamorphic process that still is hard for me to wrap my head around. It is to the point that I just sit back and admire the beauty and complexity in each stage. Welcome to our property little one.


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It’s too HOT!

I came home to find 12 workers with machetes clearing some of the new tree growth on the power line. At least they are doing as we requested and not clear cutting again. It was a terrible day here to do this job with high humidity and a dew point in the 70s. They were in boots, hard hats, long sleeves and jeans and had to be miserable. We told them to stop down when they were done and thanked them with some good old fashioned freeze pops.


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