Chirp, chirp

Uinta Ground Squirrel_Ogden-UT_LAH_9626Chirp, chirp! Chirp, chirp, chirp! We had stopped to stretch our legs at a roadside rest near Ogden, Utah, so of course I pulled out my binoculars to look for birds. Walking the short path to a scenic overlook, I kept hearing this loud chirping, but I couldn’t find any birds I could ascribe it too. There were the usual American Robins, American Crows, and Black-billed Magpies—but none of those chirp.

There were also these adorable little ground squirrels. They would boldly emerge from their tunnels (reminiscent of prairie dog towns), obviously hoping for handouts, and… wait—were they chirping at me? They were! Guess I wasn’t going to find an exotic bird, but I did get some cute photos. (more…)

IPM: Physical Barriers

apples_browns-tacoma_20091016_lah_4005Let’s say you want to grow apples in your Colorado garden—a perfectly reasonable option for this area. You’ve selected a variety that’s resistant to fireblight (I discussed disease-resistant varieties in May), and your tree is thriving. In fact, after several years, it’s finally beginning to bear fruit. You pick your first juice, red apple, take a big bite, and… oh no! Yup, you find half a worm. Ewwww.




They’re chewing holes in my big, beautiful chard leaves, leaving tiny dark pellets of digested foliage to mark their conquests. They jump aside as I walk through the knee-high grass in our field. Until I moved to Colorado I had idea how plentiful grasshoppers are (we’re home to over a hundred different species!), or how much frustration they can cause a gardener.


Mormon Crickets

mormon-cricket_sinkscanyon_20090808_lah_8837“What is that huge, weird bug in the road? And what is it doing?”

We were hiking along a dirt track in Sinks Canyon, Wyoming (a totally gorgeous place, by the way), when we came across a large insect I didn’t recognize. I should have. A bit of research revealed that it was a Mormon Cricket (Anabrus simplex), and not only are they common, but at times they’re so abundant that their voracious appetites consume the landscape!

They do look sort of “cricket-y,” but Mormon crickets are actually shieldbacked katydids, also known as long-horned grasshoppers (family Tettigoniidae, subfamily Decticinae). They are found all over western North America, preferring sagebrush/grass rangeland similar to the place we found this one.