And the bees, and the frogs, and the various bugs?
Yesterday I saw a Swallowtail butterfly, and pointed it out to my fiancee and my two boys. It really made my day.
And then it made me sad.
Because, I realized that other than the occasional Cabbage Moth, my children have not had the luxury of seeing butterflies, insects, bugs (whatever you want to call them) like I did in my childhood. And, as a child, I took them for granted.
As a child, butterflies were everywhere. Monarchs, Swallowtails, Brown Skippers, Painted Ladies, Imperials,... and ladybugs, Junebugs, Praying Mantises, bees and wasps....
We were kind in that we would catch them in jars and let them go, being careful not to take the powder off their wings. Sometimes it wasn't so pleasant- when you accidentally stepped on a bee and got stung, or if you disturbed a wasp's nest or sat on a rock in your bathing suit that was occupied by biting red ants. Little baby Praying Mantises are the cutest things you can ever see.
As a young adult, every spring my first house was filled with Junebugs and Lacewings. They littered the windowsills. If I found them in time, I would set them out int the back yard. Not too many people know that lacewings smell of camphor, and that they can bite HARD. Or that where we live, Junebugs come out in May. One time there were so many Striped Hissing Beetles out that I put 20 plus of them on my sweater and essentially had a noisy shirt.
But where are they now? I do have a garden. I have flowers and vegetables. But I have no bees, no butterflies, no Praying Mantises. No ladybugs. You can buy Ladybugs at the home depo centers, but they don't come back the next year.
Where are all the bugs? Where are the frogs and toads?
I personally like snails. Other people, like my mother, hate them. They trash her plants but they don't trash mine. When my oldest boy was a toddler, he loved them. He said that they were all his pets, and that their name was 'Georges'. I don't have a problem with snails. They don't decimate my garden as other people accuse them of. And I think the reason is very simple---- I do NOT use any kind of pesticides or fertilizers in my yard. Therefore, I have frogs and toads, which eat the snails. And I have 3 ponds, which give the frogs and toads a nice home. Sometimes we have flies, but the spiders eat them. If we sprayed for spiders, we would then also have to spray for the flies they didn't eat. It's a non-stop circle once you start using chemicals.
So, I don't have to use snail bait. Pesticides absorb directly into frogs and toads skin, and kill them. I have koi in my ponds, and any overspray of pesticides or herbicides would kill them immediately. I don't need chemicals in my yard to control pests because nature, if allowed to work properly does it for me.
We are very lucky in that we do have the benefit of what is left of nature in the Monsanto/pesticide era... we do have Hummingbird moths and ScrubJays, and the occasional butterfly. Because of our ponds, even though we live in the middle of town, we also have raccoons, oppossums, an errant skunk, and lots of frogs and toads. As a child, I remember the green Dragonflies, but I never see them now. We do see the big orange Dragonflies all the time. Because of the recent mortgage meltdown, we may lose our house, and someone may benefit from our foreclosure. I'm guessing that person will adopt the 'mow and blow' chemical attitude towards yardcare, and what little is left of our 'nature' will disappear.
When are the people of my era, who are so infatuated with the evergreen 'mow and blow' chemical yards going to remember that there used to be butterflies? Maybe they won't care about all the other useful insects- but butterflies are pretty...
And bees? Who cares about bees? Unless you like to eat. And once the chemical companies get their way, whats left of the natural bee population will be gone, and your produce will cease to exist unless the chemical companies figure out a way to pollinate your crops. Then, they'll control the world.
Think back. Try to remember the last time you saw a butterfly. And then toss out all of your pesticides and herbicides. Give the finger to the chemical companies and let nature take over. Nature has done pretty well without those companies for how many centuries? Put in a pond.
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