This Saturday I’m focusing on garden visitors–all uninvited–but not all unwelcome.
1. Cicada, or hot bugs as my grandmother called them, have always been synonymous with summer for me. There are about 25 varieties of cicada in Alabama, but there are many more world-wide. Just within the past two weeks I’ve noticed the telltale small holes in the ground that evidence the recent emergence of a cicada nymph that will soon shed its exoskeleton. I used to collect these discarded shells when a child back in Maryland. In a way, I guess I still do because the adult cicada to the right below is one I found dead last August and saved to photograph. It is a Neotibicen linnei, with a call that has always meant humid, hot evenings to me.
2. Damselflies are my second set of guests. And there are even more varieties of them than there are cicada in the state. At least 53 have been recorded. Two of them are pictured below. Because they are so delicate, they are hard to photograph without a macro lens. A few days ago when I did manage to capture these images, it was 95 degrees F (35 C) with a perceived temperature of 104 F (40 C). Neither the damselflies nor I felt like standing still too long in the sun or the shade for photo opps.
This third damselfly I noticed being consumed by another insect, which I cannot identify. If anyone recognizes it, I hope she or he will comment and pass along the name.
3. While on a run of flying garden visitors, I have to add my favored blumble bees (I just posted a one-topic piece on bees). The one below is a common Eastern bumble bee in althea (Hibiscus syriacus). These, though, are in truth invited as well as welcome.
4. Guest number four appeared with new neighbors and has claimed my garden as well as a few other surrounding properties as his own. Although his name is Niles, I’ve dubbed him King Cat, because he roams the area as though it were his domain. Often I find him sleeping on the bench around my deck, then shooting me a disdainful look if I wake him. Sometime, though, he is gracious enough to allow me to scratch his head between his ears before he walks off to some other corner of his kingdom. As long as he does not fight with my dog or hunt the birds I feed, he will not be unwelcome though certainly still uninvited.
5. The fifth guest appeared in Six on Saturday on the first of June and has been a frequent visitor since then. Just two nights ago he drank dry one hummingbird feeder and managed to knock down and drain another I forgot to take in at nightfall. I’m generally annoyed by the pawing and digging the raccoon does, and I’d prefer that he not scavenge in the garden at night. The drinking of the hummingbird nectar is much more bothersome.
6. My final visitor is the most unwelcome one. Armadillos have made their way from Texas to Alabama in the last few decades. It has been just during the past two years that I have had to deal with them at Highland Lake. As far as I am concerned, this visitor is uninvited, unwanted, and has certainly overstayed his time.
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