Sunday, 7 August 2016

My Own Private Soap Opera



Among the wisteria that grows over the pergola a small drama was played out this week. An ant got hold of a harvestman's leg. The ensuing tug-of-war went on for fifteen minutes. I was convinced the ant would win. It held the leg firmly in its jaws and dragged the harvestman ever forward with grim determination, heading for the leaf stalk where other ants waited. The harvestman seemed powerless to do anything but yield, slowly and inexorably, heading towards the inevitable demise.
Occasionally, there would be a brief remission, when the harvestman gained ground. Once, he managed to drop down beneath the single leaf that provided the setting for this drama. He hung, briefly suspended beneath it while the ant prowled on the top trying vainly to heave him back over. You can see this in the top right picture. The ant got his way and the harvestman was dragged over the leaf and on to the stalk. I steeled myself for the finale, thinking surely now he must give in, exhausted and unable to resist. But then suddenly the game changed, the ant let go and the harvestman scuttled for all he was worth over the leaf, across the stalk, under another leaf, dropping down out of sight of the ant who spent another ten minutes searching for him, futilely as it turned out.
I don't like to interfere, because everything has the right to life and how do you judge? But I have to admit I was rather relieved. It was such a valiant struggle.

In other news, leaf-cutter bees are everywhere in the garden at the mo. We have Willughby's (bright yellow tummys) and Patchwork. We've also got Wool Carder Bees (top right photo of the four below). The Leaf-Cutters are responsible for the all the sickle-shapes that have been removed from the leaves for nest-lining purposes.


Butterflies have also been visiting. Lots of Whites, a few Brimstones and, today for the first time, a female Common Blue :o)


And just in case you needed evidence of the benefit of keeping a patch of nettles in your garden, today I discovered Comma caterpillars of various ages on the nettles we've left up by the pond (top left photo in the set bellow).
The long grasses are also proving their worth, providing shelter for the Common Blue and also home to Speckled Crickets and Short-Winged Coneheads (the female of which you can see on the lily leaf in the bottom left below).




I can feel Autumn stirring in the land. The harvest is on its way here, with combines kicking up plumes of dust and golden burnished stubble fields open again for walking. And in the gloaming the air tastes of change. We ate our first blackberries from the hedges this morning while out for a walk with the dogs, and in the garden, the blackbirds are feasting on apples. It's warm here, but the land is turning.

Hope all are well?

CT :o)

16 comments:

  1. Wonderful story ! I was sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen.
    I have not really been out in the backyard lately but just noticed that the drips to my rosemary in back of my fence wasn't working. They all dried out in the heat !
    That is where many of the Arizona bees like to go. So the gardeners will need to trim and get things working. What this is all about is I just bought a new bee home for them. They are solitary bees. So now we need to fluff up their yard.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

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  2. I thought I caught a scent of September in the air yesterday morning as well. So glad the harvestman got away. The biggest boy and I rescued one from our tent very gently the other day. They're so delicate aren't they. Brilliant photos, especially the common blue and that last caterpillar. I bought a lamb's ears plant for 50p from a local house the other day specifically for carder bees. I saw Bridget Strawbridge had one a while back and a carder bee was guarding it for his lady love. It really does feel like ears! CJ xx

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  3. What a fabulous post. Good on the harvestman, don't want the ants to get their way all the time. I'm loving your blog and learning so much. B x

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  4. I would have had to interfere.
    Brilliant pictures.

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  5. Well that was quite a dram unfolding before your eyes. I hope autumn is not coming ye as I have more summer living to do.

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  6. How fascinating and a wonderful way to spend 15 minuets. Nothing as dramatic here but I have spent several hours watching the bees in the garden. There is a definite whiff of autumn about isn't there. I'm glad - my very favourite season. x

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  7. Your post was a lovely start to the week, and now I know what those long legged beasties are called.

    Jean

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  8. I've been saying just the past few days that I can feel the turning here too. It's wetter, not quite as hot, and the air smells different. Soon, we'll have the scent of roasting green chiles. Last night, after a light thunderstorm, we smelled wood smoke in the air. Someone must have lit a fire during the rain. I didn't know that spider was called a harvestman. I think it's the same kind we would call a Daddy Long-legs, but I don't know for sure. I have a small orb-weaver near my back patio. I've been watching her grow for about a month now and she's really pretty.

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    1. They're not technically a spider. We have Daddy long legs spiders here too, which I suspect are the ones you mean. It's something to do with the body segments that sets harvestmen apart from spiders :o)

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  9. I love the way you write, that first paragraph was quite gripping! I agree about the turning, I've noticed it here too, a certain smell at times, a lessening of the colour in the leaves. Lovely.

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  10. Hey CT,
    Hooray for the harvestman! Lots of red admirals here. And there have been some huge hovers too. The echinops is about to flower, and the spiders have already strung their webs in anticipation of the hoard of visitors it will receive. Olly and I witnessed a particularly gruesome bee capture last summer. Olly and I picked our first blackberries at Cape Cornwall last week. I feel the tang of Autumn in the air too.
    Lovely post and pictures.
    Leanne xx

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    1. I've seen lots of Reds here as well, must have been a good crossing for them. xx

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  11. We too have felt the stirrings of Autumn. I'm so glad that the harvestman managed to get away! I noticed today in the garden lots of caterpillars of the white butterfly. Yesterday as we walked through a field of flowers and grases I heard the first cricket of the year. Last year we had them in our garden but the farmer has cut the grass this year, what is their favourite habitat? Sarah x

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    1. Long grasses mostly, although we seem to have a lot up by the pond this year particularly x

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  12. Hallo there
    I am too rather relieved that the Harvestman won..hooray!
    Beautiful photos as ever and as Autumn begins its slow descent over there, we are getting the bright "spring zepher" style moments a la Winnie the Pooh. Feeling more cheery as the sun shines and the wattle and daffodils appear. Hooray again.
    Love to you all

    xxx

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  13. I love the images of your drama in the wisteria.
    Wonderful captures and totally fascinating.

    Beautiful combination of photographs and yes a patch of nettles is great for some of our native butterflies :)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x