Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturday Miscellany

I hadn't realized just how chunky Pancake the Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels nose is. Here he is using an almost vacuuming seed technique in his quest to gain the extra weight for his winter hibernation. Most of Pancake or any other Ground Squirrels burrow isn't that far underground but his hibernation chamber is very deep. When the time comes he'll go down there, roll into a stiff little ball, reduce his metabolic rate severely, sleep the winter away, and slowly use up the calories he's vacuuming up today.

Also today, I caught him twice in the traditional ground squirrel/gopher/Prairie Dog stance. Which is on his haunches, body elongated, alert, and in one case just beside his burrow, so he can scurry in at his top 8MPH at any sign of trouble.

Speaking of his burrow---

Here's the entryway. It goes directly under the concrete patio. Also note that he's been helping himself to sunflowers from the garden and leaving the immature heads at his doorway as evidence.

Also in residence, was Toupee Goldfinch, looking a touch molty around the head and neck.

Chickadee too appeared and selected a sunflower seed.

He than eyeballed it, while holding it securely between both feet to shell and eat. Notice, that usually it's quite difficult to see a Chickadee's eyes other than a gleam as they blend so well with his cap. But today for whatever reason he has his eyes so wide open to scrutinize his seed that you can see the white of his eye at both corners.

While watching Chickadee I heard the familiar short staccato, same pitched whistle, of the White-breasted Nuthatch. He's not been around during breeding season but having that all wrapped up at this point he's back to cache sunflower seeds in the bark of the Maple trees as insurance against winter hunger

And within moments, there he was, looking like he'd never left , back in his rather startling position of looking like, even without the benefit of a bracing tail, gravity means nothing to him.

Has anyone had trouble with Japanese Beetles? Before I left for my most recent trip to New York City, I'd noticed a couple of Japanese Beetles but nothing to write home about. When I returned they'd nearly defoliated two trees, were getting to work on the hedge, and anything else they could get their mandibles into.

That was it. I went to the garden store to track down some Japanese Beetle traps. I'd not used them before and didn't know how well they worked but the use of pheromones and an oddly shaped plastic bag was certainly worth a try, particularly as I don't use poisons and the beetles are stripping the foliage off the trees at a mind boggling rate.

The deal is, scientists figured out the pheromone scent that attracts the beetles into mating mode and to the supposed position of the opposite beetle sex. At which time upon arrival they go down into the hourglass shaped bag and then find themselves unable to get out. Why they can't fly out, I'm not sure, but they can't.

I pounded a short pole into the yard, put together the trap, stuck the pheromone wafer on it, hung it by it's tie and went back into the house.

I looked back. Wait a second there seems to be an insect circling the bag already.

And in under three minutes there was an absolute swarm of them circling the bag, attempting entry, and acting like sex-crazed Japanese Beetles should.

The beetles have started compulating, which seems rather rude as they're outside the trap. Drat! I do wish they were doing it in the no-exit bag but time will tell on it's efficacy.. And here comes an interloper.

Or several for that matter. All to the good! And indeed it was, because within 45 minutes there were more than an inch of beetles within the trap. Whether they'll make a dent in the infestation remains to be seen but it can't hurt. And if two traps isn't enough, I can always get more.
Donegal Browne


Eleanor, NYC said...

I've fallen in love with Pancake.

How do you know his top speed is 8MPH? Have you clocked him?

Donegal Browne said...


Nope, it wasn't me who clocked him but somebody has clocked them as the 8MPH is a prevalent factoid in TLGS literature.

I'm rather fond of ole Pancake myself, but I'm beginning to believe he's a bit of a scamp. Since his apppearance, a number of my decorative plantings have not only lost their heads but have been nipped off at ground level. I don't know, but when Pancake looked at me today, he seemed to have a guilty expression on his face and his cheek pouches were stretched to the breaking point.

Anonymous said...

Had a huge problem with Japanese beetles this year in Central, IL. Put the traps out like you and found out that it just attracted them all from everyone else's yard so my trees became even more laden with them. Researched online, asked experts and finally decided that I had to spray the trees to save them. Will use a systemic treatment next year and NO traps thank you! Guy a block over had just a "few" and worried about his garden. He put traps out and bag filled within 4 hours and suddenly thousands were in his yard and on his trees. The traps work, but it attracts them from all over the area so you end up with your neighbors beetles. Best bet is to put a few traps out away from your home (vacant lot?) and have neighbors cooperate with you to attract them away from everyone's yards.

Donegal Browne said...

Did you have your Japanese Beetle traps 30 feet from foliage? That's the recommendation on the box of the kind I got anyway. So far my plants at least seem to be doing better.

As to spraying, must make their own decision on that topic. I just can't do it. I've seen birds dying and dead of poison. I know, sprays are supposedly less toxic than they once were but even so I can't do it. I'd be a nervous wreck. So I'd rather have the beetles and therefore still have healthy Ladybugs and Preying Mantis in my garden even if the plants get gnawed to bits. I do notice that there are trees and native plants that the Japanese Beetles don't go for. If worse came to worse, and some things were eaten to death, it would be a good time to add more native plants and trees that they didn't find tasty. Also in the Midwest, the J.B.'s do freeze in the winter which does help to some extent.

And if I'm attracting all the beetles in the neighborhood then at least my neighbors trees will get a break even if mine aren't. :-)