Archive for the ‘Critters and wildlife’ Category

Identify this

I’ve got questions for you this Monday morning, lovely readers.


First up: the fluffy white cocoon I found on my zucchini plant.


What is it? Will it emerge a moth or butterfly or…?


Second: the spots on my heucheras.


What’s the deal here? Is it rot from water sitting on the leaves? Sunburn? None of the above?


Reader question: Will buttermilk attract ants?
Andrea Bellamy |

Who loves moss? I do! I do!

I recently received an email with this question in response to my post about moss graffiti:

I’ve just finished paving our patio with reclaimed bricks and am eager to have moss growing there, but my husband is afraid that the buttermilk mixture will attract ants. Any advice?

I didn’t have a problem with ants when I tried this, but I’d love to throw it out there to Heavy Petal readers. Has anyone found that ants or other critters are attracted to the buttermilk in moss starters? It’s probably a good time of year to do this, Mary, as it’s not really prime ant season. I do wonder, however, if you really want to grow moss on a reclaimed brick patio. Wouldn’t that be a recipe for a broken limb? Sounds mighty slippery to me!


A new appreciation
Andrea Bellamy |

You absolutely must watch this video of two slugs mating. I’m telling you, it will give you a new appreciation for the critters that eat your hostas.

Via We’re Not Wired Right.


Wildlife for city dwellers


I wish I had a farm, or at least a few acres to spread out on. I’d have chickens and goats and alpacas and at least a few dogs. But since I’m stuck with my 200 sq.ft. city garden, where the only critters are cats, neighbourhood children and the occasional skunk, I’m loving these Salvor Fauna animal pillows. So cute! And they won’t eat your roses or tear into your garbage.

Available in animals from dachshunds to tigers at Design Public.


Dear Lord,
Andrea Bellamy |

Please save me from this pestilence. I can’t handle the aphids and whitefly any longer. Please send ladybugs and parasitic wasps soon.

In desperation,


Meeting momma spider
Andrea Bellamy |

As a gardener, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m afraid of spiders – afterall, they’re so good at keeping garden pests at bay. But I’ve been scarred by a childhood in which wolf spiders – those terrifyingly quick-moving, giant, hairy beasts – haunted my summers. They’d emerge when the weather warmed, appearing in the bathroom sink every morning, darting out from every toy I’d pick up in the basement, and once – and I think this is really what did me in – crawling into bed with me. My dad ran into my bedroom with a baseball bat, the screams were that loud.

Maybe I’m growing up (I turned 30 last week – surely thirty-year-olds can’t be afraid of “bugs”) because while planting my edamame seeds yesterday, I disturbed a momma spider and it broke my heart.


See, she’d been nesting in my lavender, and when I’d dug nearby to plant the seeds, I guess she thought she had better make a break for it. But she wasn’t going anywhere without her babies. She was frantically trying to haul her eggs away, and I wasn’t making things easy. I’m not totally reformed, so I didn’t want them hatching in my yard (I envisioned something out of a B-grade horror flick) so I was trying to scoop her and her eggs up onto my kneeling pad so I could I move them. I probably terrorized her in doing so, but eventually I walked her across the alley and found her a new nursery at the ghetto house. Then I subjected her to photography.


It sounds lame, but even two years ago I wouldn’t have been able to move her. I’d have called Ben. And yesterday I felt compassion for her. The way she so desperately fought to hang on to her eggs… I must have recognized that mothering instinct, I guess, even in a spider. Maybe they’re not so scary afterall.


The war on slugs

I have a secret.

I have a fondness for slugs and snails. I think they’re, well, kind of cute. I know I’m not alone in this! Well, maybe among gardeners.

But except for that unfortunate time when I stepped on a slug and it got stuck between my toes… oh, and the time the dog tried to eat the giant banana slug but it glued itself to her tongue and she kept sticking her tongue in and out in a vain attempt to detach the slug… well, my experiences have been mainly uneventful. This despite growing up basically in a rainforest inhabited by thousands of the critters. However, I was surrounded by slug genocide.

My surrogate grandmother, Mrs. Mills, who lived next door to us when I was wee, was an amazing gardener with over an acre of heavenly English cottage-style garden. She was ruthless with the slugs. She carried a pair of scissors with her in the garden, and whenever she came across one, the unfortunate gastropod was snipped neatly in half.

My mother’s method was no less gruesome. It was however, slightly less conspicuous. She carried a giant pair of wooden tongs with her, which were used to deposit the limaceous creature into a grey jug of salt water marked GROSS SLUGS.

Maybe it’s a remnent of teen rebellion, but I refuse to kill slugs. Unfortunately, faced with the lace they make out of my hostas, Something Must Be Done. The slugs must be stopped.

I realize there are a number of organic ways to deal with slugs, setting a beer trap being one of the least offensive. (If your time is up, drowning in beer wouldn’t be such a bad way to go, relatively speaking.) While I’m on the subject, please, please don’t use slug bait (i.e. poison). Domestic animals are attracted to it, ingest it, and die needlessly. We almost lost Blue, my first dog, to slug bait. Not to mention the fact that it works its way up the food chain (slugs are eaten by frogs, snakes and birds, to name a few).

But you don’t really need to kill slugs at all. Here are a few tips for reducing their presence without feeling the guilt:

* Use copper as a barrier. Copper gives slugs a slight shock when they try to cross it. You can buy copper tape and make miniature fences around slug-munched plants, or simply use old pennies!



<< Newer Posts