Monday, April 19, 2010

Creatures in the Garden

Now that the weather has warmed, many creatures are populating my garden again.  I am always happy to see a green anole hanging under the screen that covers the rain barrel. 

The passion vine has been growing by leaps and bounds after a long winter sleep underground.  The Gulf Fritillary butterflies have already found it and have begun laying eggs.  This is the first caterpillar I found munching away.  Fortunately, this is a very hardy vine and it survives and grows even while hosting these hungry caterpillars.  Watching them grow, form a chrysalis and then hatch is of great delight for me and the grands. 

The other morning while doing my garden "rounds" I discovered this little guy just hanging out in a bromeliad.  I haven't seen one of these green tree frogs in several years.  We have been inundated with Cuban tree frogs and the greenies have virtually disappeared.  But, this winter I found many dead Cuban tree frogs apparently frozen to death.  That cold weather may have done a big favor for our native lizard and frog populations. 

These creatures I have come to truly hate.  If I don't destroy them at this stage they get really ugly fast.  They have a voracious appetite for Crinum lilies, Amarylis, Canna and other broadleaf plants.  Here you see Eastern Lubber Grasshopper babies gathered on my bamboo.  Yikes!  I usually wear my garden gloves on my morning check up of the garden just so I can squish these guys.  I just can't do it bare handed.  This group of baby lubbers was about four feet off the ground and I couldn't reach them.  I don't like to use pesticides or other chemicals but.....
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I admit I ran into the house for the can of Raid. 


  1. Good morning, Kay,
    All those little green critters are so sweet and good for the garden! And you have cats already! Wow. So fun.

    I do hope the cuban tree frogs were frozen out. I'm convinced that cold weather did do some good ~~ "weeding out" some of the undesirables.

    We knew it couldn't be so true for those nasty Lubbers. We've literally been on the lookout for them for several weeks. Knowing they would appear just as you've pictured them. I drove up in my driveway a couple of days ago and my sweet neighbor was out in her front yard spraying away with some Sevin. She gets very frantic about them. As she calls over to me asking if I've seen any (which I hadn't yet) I knew if she had them ~~ so did I. Sure enough. I dropped everything... even my 4 year old grandson (didn't drop him but he went scampering to check things out with me). There they were right across the street from hers. I squished with bare hands. YUCK! But hands were all I had. Of course the little evil things start scattering and no hand is fast enough. They are the ONLY infestation that leaves me no choice but to use a pesticide. I hate it, too, but IPM is activated when the Lubbers show up. (If they find my vegetable garden I won't use pesticide there).Once they get to be adults I kill them one by one with my pruners. But if we don't get them under control to some degree while they are babies you could lose your garden to them.

    Sorry so long. All the Florida gardneners can groan together that these guys have shown up once again. They are VERY late but I knew they'd arrive eventually.

  2. The green anole and the tree frogs are very cute. The lubbers gave me the goosebumps... The bugs and pests are the part of gardening that I have to deal with and don't know how. Still learning...

  3. Hello, NK! Your little critters are so sweet..I love them! EXCEPT for the dreaded lubbers. I can't blame you with the pesticide. As you know, I've recently caved too...just can't be helped sometimes. I've had these caterpillars too...munching on my madavilla vine. I've only killed one (stomped on it)but have thrown them off my vine numerous times. Are they nasty critters? Do they turn into butterflies? Should I let them eat to their hearts content?! Please let me know!

  4. Hi NanaK,
    Lizards are great for your garden as they are a great natural bug control.I used to get outbreaks of the same type grasshoppers at the beginning of every Summer. They loved to eat my Amaryllis leaves. What finally stopped them was my backdoor neighbors illegal chickens.The chickens ate them all and the grasshoppers have not returned for several years now.

  5. I've seen more critters running around lately, too. I'm glad to see the lizards, but not the lubbers. I discovered our first small batch this weekend...ugh! I have to squish as many as possible while they're small because it grosses me out to do it when they're big. I need to get some chickens like sanddune. I would think the black racers would take care of them but they don't seem to.

  6. Wow.. those grasshoppers do look like swamp of locust invading the garden.
    Good thing you got rid of them.

  7. Meems - I really hope I am getting these babies. I use long handled loppers on the big yellow ones. But I scream and hop around while trying to chop them up. It's really embarassing.

    Ami - I do like most of the reptiles, amphibians, and insects in my garden, but those lubbers are a whole 'nother story. I'm trying to get braver in dealing with them.

    Kimberly - The cats you are seeing on your Mandevilla vine might be Oleander or Polka Dot moth larvae. They are orange but have longer black bristles on them than the Fritillaries. The Polka Dot moth is pretty cool looking but those cats will eat your vine to the ground. Desert Rose, Mandevilla and Oleander are related and those cats eat them up. Try using BT on them and you won't affect the beneficial insects that can help control them in your garden. I wish BT worked on the lubber babies :(

    sanddune - You know, I just met a gardener couple this weekend who are raising backyard chickens. They almost have me convinced to give it a try. Knowing they would eat lubber babies makes it real tempting. However, my husband is not on board with chickens - so far...

    Susan - I love my black racers. But, I haven't seen them yet. Hopefully I'm just not out there when they are. I do have a new hawk pair who patrol the yard every day so I'm a little concerned about my snakes.

    James - I was talking with someone from Saudi Arabia the other day and they have real swarms of locusts. He was not at all sympathetic with my lubber grasshopper plight. LOL

  8. Yep-I'm all for beheading the lubbers with what ever is handy.Raid,clippers,even Raid,or something stronger.I read that there is hope the cold and freezes may have had an effect on the invasives.Hopefully so.I do so miss he green tree frogs.

  9. I miss our little tree frogs, too! The experts say we're supposed to get rid of the Cuban frogs by zipping them into a baggie and putting them in the freezer (you can squeeze some Orajel down their back so they feel no pain.) I got one in a baggie once, but couldn't bring myself to zip it. So I left it, with the frog inside, on the patio -- open. I figured if he was still there in the morning, he was meant for the freezer. He wasn't.

  10. Hi NanaK,
    I found your blog 'googling' whether our chicken would help us out this year controlling the lubbers in our backyard. So glad to see the other reader's comment that she will! We live near Bham, AL. and they TAKE OVER the whole neighborhood. awful creatures, I have heard that the 'old timers' used to call them the devil's horses, seems appropriate.
    Also saw that when this was posted your husband wasn't sure about keeping a chicken. I had some reservations at first too (I thought she was going to stink up the yard!) but I am so grateful we decided to try it out. We got our first chicken last easter (she was about 2 weeks old) and we have had so much fun with her. She is by far the easiest animal I have ever kept. My husband built her a small coop, but she wanders the yard during the day scratching and eating bugs- thankfully, my dog pays her no attention. She is incredibly entertaining and funny, she brags when she lays an egg, she comes when you call her and as an added bonus she lays an egg for us just about every day. She is an Ameracauna and lays beautiful turquoise green eggs. We plan on getting 2 new ones this easter.
    I hope this spring is a beautiful one for you!


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