As you read this, my husband and I are on our way to the land of wallabies (right), waratahs, and wattles. Yup, we’re going to Australia! This amazing country has been on my “bucket list” since I was thirteen, and we’ve been saving for it forever. I might be just a teeny bit excited.
While my husband wants nothing more complicated than a well-deserved hammock on the beach, I want to see the continent’s unique birds and plants. That means spending a lot of time outdoors, and that means that, besides the kookaburras (left) and kangaroos, there are a number of less-than-friendly creatures I might encounter.
IPM: Pest-eating Vertebrates, Part 1
Here it is the middle of winter, and garden pests are out of sight and out of mind. Yet, we know that those critters are out there, waiting for warm weather to bring out the first sprouts of spring—just so they can gobble them up! It’s a very good thing, then, that there are other creatures biding their time, waiting to eat those garden pests! I’ve already talked about bug-eating invertebrates. This time I’ll focus on those animals with some backbone, so to speak. Being biologically minded, I’ve sorted these helpful vertebrates by which taxonomic class they belong to.
One of the most helpful animals to welcome into your garden is a toad. Like frogs and salamanders, their close relatives, toads eat tons of bugs, and they don’t need a pond to live in. Experts say they eat up to 100 bugs every day, and while they don’t discriminate between “good” bugs and bad ones (they’ll nab anything that moves), it’s nice to see cutworms, grasshoppers, flies, and slugs disappearing into their wide jaws.
A Snake Story
After my recent post about spiders, and how I’m struggling to tolerate them, it might come as a surprise that I (unlike my husband) am deeply fond of snakes. Phobia—and love—know no logic.
The other day I was out for a walk with one of my kids when we came across a Western Terrestrial Garter Snake in the middle of the (dirt) road. It was stretched out full length, which was all of about 18 inches, basking in the hot sun. (They grow to about three feet, so this was a youngster.)