Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Lily bug beetles - they have won!

 I have something to admit. I've lost the Lily Bug Beetle Battle.
(Say that fast three times!)
lily beetles
I've been religiously spraying Neem oil on them, until this past couple of weeks. It is an amazing preventative, but you must be vigilant (every 5 - 7 days when the larvae are hatching). I stomp on them when I see them, or feed them to the goldfish.  They like the larvae, poo or no poo!

This one was toast.
Then spray plants with the leaf shine. It works wonders.I was negligent with the Neem oil
But, I was distracted with family stuff.
On each half-chewed leaf, you will see this awful sight. This is the larvae, covered in its own poo! It is so sick.

Lily bug larvae from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.
This video is about Lily bug larvae. The lily bugs have won. I was negligent with the Neem oil, which keeps them at bay. They house themselves in their own poo, my goldfish like them.

More resources:

Lily Leaf Beetle Life Cycle from the U. Mass. They say, "This pest will only lay its eggs on true lilies and Fritillaria species."

Ottawa Orchid Society’s Fact Sheet on Neem

Flowers are very buggy around here!

Tons of bees about!
As promised, I took a walkabout on Oliver's Lot before and after the great tire launch incident. The plants and weeds are waist high, except where I cut a path. The flowers are humming with flying and crawling critters. We have bees, wasps, and all sorts of beetles.


This one helped me
-working beside the pond.

Kept on coming back!

I'm thinking this is a firefly!

This spider guards the Hop Bine
in the back yard

Dragonfly, eat those bugs!

Everything is blooming and fruit is growing.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Book Review: The Gunner: WW I; The Great One


By Paul Almond.      Eric Alford’s life on the peaceful GaspĂ© Coast is shattered by his decision to follow his elder brother John into the cataclysm of death and destruction that is the First World War. By his thundering Howitzer, Gunner Alford faces off against the enemy through harrowing battles that defined the European Theatre: Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Hill 70, and The Somme. Suffering wounds and mental exhaustion, Eric is evacuated to a Rouen field hospital where he is surrounded by the hellish consequences of combat: blindness, amputations, and gas-inflicted horrors. And here, suffering with PTSD (shell-shock), Eric wonders whether he will ever see home again.
  1. The Deserter 978-1-55278-901-8 Paperback $19.95
  2. The Survivor 978-1-55278-967-4 Paperback $19.95
  3. The Pioneer 978-1-77087-123-6 Paperback $19.95
  4. The Pilgrim 978-1-77087-163-2 Paperback $19.95
  5. The Chaplain 978-0-99197-460-3 Paperback $19.95
  6. WW II
  7. The Gunner 978-0-88995-512-7 Paperback $19.95

     For those who are interested in finding out what WWI was like, this book is a good one. Written by a Canadian film maker, who lives in the US, some of it is written like a Hollywood script, a bit over the top, if you'll excuse the pun, but he culled autobiographies and diaries to reflect the true horror of this war. We can learn much about how to treat those who served in US data is shocking:
My late father was in the Air Force
in WW II
wartime. In fact, shell shock, now we know it is a huge problem: PTSD. This is a relatively new concept. We really must do more for our veterans, who can end up with mental health issues, some and homeless.
Although national tracking of veteran suicide rates is unreliable at best, the VA estimates that 22 veterans commit suicide each day. This means approximately 8,030 veterans kill themselves every year, more than 5,540 of whom are 50 or older.
     It is well-crafted, and was a good read for me. I dropped History in gr. 10, with a 52% average! (I took Music, Physical Education, English and three Maths: Calculus, Functions & Relations, Algebra!) There is a map, a glossary, as well, which helped me navigate my way through this portion of the war effort. Most soldiers thought the war might be over before they managed to serve. This, certainly, was not the case.
     This book is the sixth in a series loosely based on the author's forefather. Students study WW I in grade 10. This series would be an excellent one for kids, as I have always learned well from well-researched historical fiction. Coincidentally, TVO is featuring a mini-series on this topic, references are below.
Canadian and World Studies, 2013, Grades 9 and 10 PDF Format (2013 - 1.9 MB)  
    The Grade 10 history courses provide students with an overview of Canadian history from the eve of World War I to the present.

I have a WW I helmet someone repurposed. They were very heavy.
From my mom's photos
Dad and his sister: 1942

Apocalypse: World War One - TVO

titleApocalypse is a monumental five-part miniseries culled from more than 500 hours of archival material. This is WWI as you have never experienced it before: artfully colorized in a painstakingly researched process that brings the footage to life with unprecedented impact.
The Great War

Drive safely, slow down; don't smell the parsnip!

See the tall plant?
I was out by the mailbox, spraying the Wild parsnip. It is poisonous, and
Wild parsnip - thick, hollow stem,
yellow flowers like Cow parsnip,
(which has white flowers).
it is migrating across the highway, thanks to birds, into my property.

I've found that Poison Ivy killer works on it. Using gloves, you can direct the spray and get rid of this noxious weed. Waist-high, with thick, hollow stems, it makes fetching mail a risky affair

It is insidious. Once the county came along and used the bush hog on the ditches, then dug the ditches out, they have been prolific. Anyone who works in the field needs to be warned.

Well, there I was, with traffic going by at breakneck speed, when I heard a pop. A small car's tire burst, then flew off of the axle. It was quite amazing. I can still see the vivid movie in my head, an airborne tire bouncing off of the road, spinning madly. It rolled for several hundred yards, parallel to the road.
The OPP arrived, two cars, and traffic slowed down. How joyful! I suggested we'd be happy if the OPP sat there every time we had to fetch the mail. "Everyone needs our help." he replied mournfully. I hope it was his end of shift...

The bugs were terrible, I was glad I had on bug spray. The other OPP officer, looking in the bush for the tire, didn't believe me that it was headed that way. Helping to look, I warned one passerby about the Wild parsnip. His wife assured me he knew what to look for as he is a biologist. Her son is an OPP, too. Eventually, they went on their way, but several people stopped to try help. I assured the guy it wouldn't have gone through the wire fence. He was searching in our bush. He finally found it where I said it was, well down the road!

Their parents lived along the road apiece, and they came and took the infant and her car seat to their home, while the couple had a cigarette or two. The OPP waited for the tow truck. I offered to help, but they declined any assistance, more concerned with getting (and paying for) a tow. They unpacked essentials from the car and it was towed away.
I kept on looking for birds, monarchs and bees. (See those photos tomorrow!)

Monday, 21 July 2014

They are here! They are here! Monarch butterfly sightings!

My favourite photo!
Caterpillar and momma!
It's been around twice. Finally, I managed photos! Our milkweed is prolific and waiting! It seems that the Monarchs will rebound.

On Sunday afternoon, I saw one chasing another one of the milkweed patches! Twitterpated!
Why do we need Monarchs? They pollinate plants, including corn.
They require milkweed species, for this is where they lay their eggs, and it is the first food of the Monarch caterpillar larvae. They don't eat milkweed pollen exclusively, which is good, since they do not always get north in early July when they start to bloom.
  • Average life span in the wild: Up to 6 to 8 months  
  • Size: Wingspan 9.4 => 10.5 cm 
  • Weight: 0.27 => 0.75 gram (A Smarty weighs about a half gram.)

From National Geographic...

Omar Vidal, director general of WWF-Mexico, noted by email: "The monarch butterfly as a species is not endangered. What is endangered is its migratory phenomenon from Canada to Mexico and back."

The number of migrating monarchs is plummeting for a few reasons: widespread loss of a plant called milkweed, which their young rely on for food; extreme climate fluctuations in North America, including freezing temperatures and heavy rain; and deforestation. (Watch video: "Growing Up Butterfly.")

Once widespread throughout the U.S., the plant has seen its range fall 58 percent due to herbicide use, especially on corn and soybean fields.

The Year the Monarch Didn’t Appear

Last year’s low (2012) of 60 million now seems great compared with the fewer than three million that have shown up so far this year (2013). Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse.

A big part of it is the way the United States farms. As the price of corn has soared in recent years, driven by federal subsidies for biofuels, farmers have expanded their fields. That has meant plowing every scrap of earth that can grow a corn plant, including millions of acres of land once reserved in a federal program for conservation purposes.

The berries are plentiful, too!

Pave Paradise - put up a parking lot

Many fields are gone. Forests, as well, replaced with parking lots or things like grass. We forget about such across this continent –for all species of fauna, including birds and bees. It's the worst at cottages, where folks need a city-like lot, apparently.

"Native trees are not only grocery stores, but insect pharmacies as well. Trees and other plants have beneficial chemicals essential to the health of bugs. Some monarchs, when afflicted with parasites, seek out more toxic types of milkweed because they kill the parasites. Bees use medicinal resins from aspen and willow trees that are antifungal, antimicrobial and antiviral, to line their nests and to fight infection and diseases."
--Jim Robbins is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and the author of “The Man Who Planted Trees.

The milkweed prolific - Monarch visits.

There are huge fluctuations...
There is much that has gone wrong with them in the past: 2012 drought, subsequent lack of food for the flight south, pesticide use on milkweed, loss of habitat. My Facebook friends are reporting many sightings of Monarch. I was sure it would bounce back.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars

These are photos from 2011.


Some put up boxes, and host the caterpillars.

From Journey North: At Home
Create monarch habitat by planting a butterfly garden.
  • Plant native milkweedSome non-native plants disturb migratory patterns.
  • Provide nectar plants
    Include flowers that bloom during fall migration.
  • Avoid pesticides
    Pesticides kill monarchs at all stages of the life cycle
  • Report your monarch observations
    Scientists need data to understand all stages of the monarch's annual cycle. Citizen scientists contribute valuable observations.
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