Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Obs-lista June 7-8, 2011

An 'obs-lista' is an observation list of the species you have seen at a particular place, during a particular time, or for a particular project.  When we grew up in Sweden we used to make lists like these for certain trips and cross off as many species as we could.  This is not a complete list at all, just a few notes of special things seen in New Jersey and Pennsylvania during the last 24 hours.

Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)- this invasive species has taken over like a 1.5 m tall dusty green plague along the railroad line between Trenton and Levittown, Pennsylvania.  It was initially planted as a nice garden plant in the US, but quickly became a horribly invasive weed.  The rhizomes in the soil shoot up new shoots over and over and the plant spreads sideways very quickly.

Cedar waxwings ('sidensvansar') - they are back!  Every June we see cedar waxwings that come and eat the fruits on our Amelanchier tree ('häggmispel').  Only problem is that our Amelanchier tree died last summer from a fungal disease.  The cedar waxwings didn't really look hungry, so I hope they find some other berries to eat.  I love these birds and their 'sirring' sounds.

Monarch butterflies - they are back too!  I have only seen one so far, but still, one butterfly can lay a lot of eggs on a milkweed plant (assuming she mated first...). Apparently there is another invasive milkweed called swallow wort that monarchs also lay their eggs on, but the larvae become sick from that species.  Monarchs, stick to the real milkweeds (Asclepias), so you don't fail to make more monarchs.

Box turtle.  This was a sad occasion this morning.  A nice sturdy box turtle had tried to cross our road but got run over.  All that was left was the 15 cm long shell, broken in one end.  I put the shell up on a rock in the forest.  These ancient creatures are amazing, but they don't do well on asphalt with fast cars.

Colorado beetle.  Only one seen so far on our property, and I hope this is not the beginning of this year's garden pest.  It seems like every year a different insect species becomes a problem.  We have had invasions of Japanese beetles, brown marmorated stinkbugs, Asian lady beetles, toxic blister beetles, and bagworms during different years.  I have no problem with killing such insects, but not with poisons - we mostly use the drowning technique. We picked the blister beetles off our beets and swiss chard by hand last year, with gloves on, since they can cause bad dermatitis and poisoning. Not only the weather is out of control but the invasive animals and plants too!

Fire flies - they are back!  I love fireflies.  Their green glow make nice streaks in the hot summer evenings, and make this place tropical (in the good sense).  The heat makes it feel tropical in the bad sense.  Tomorrow it is predicted to be 100 degrees Fahrenheit (=37 Celsius) here. Too hot!

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