Thursday, June 11, 2009

Balancing Act

For two or three years we have had a horrendous influx of japanese beetles, nassssty little brutes that can wipe out a just bloomed rose in very short order. Two years ago the black aphids arrived, and this year the African daisies are being devastated by red aphids. Not all of them, since I have two varieties, one of which is vulnerable and one is not. I hope.

The problem is, moles eat the beetle grubs, as do robins and other larger birds. Yummy snack foods. I dont know what eats the aphids. But as I am friends with the moles (they are nature's earth movers, much like earthworms, but on a greater scale), I hate to limit their supply of treats. They LOVE grubs. Someone said, get rid of the grubs, and you get rid of the moles. And if you lose the moles, the grubs come back, but maybe not the moles.

About 20 years ago there was a truly devastating visitation by gypsy moth caterpillars. You could hear the chewing, it was that bad. People went to pieces, to the point of nailing up collars on trees already infested with the caterpillars, which was silly, since once the worms hatched out they ate their way to the end of the branches, dropped to the ground, and wiggled away, ignoring the collars. In three or four years they bred themselves out of business and have become another unsightly but manageable bug.

This becomes one of those "money where your mouth is" deals; if I natter on about the balance of nature, then I have to live with what nature slings in my face. More or less. I did put out milky spore last year regardless of the directions on the back of the bag-- which had nothing to do with the directions on the front...again, what survives, survives, and that's sort of what it's about, isn't it. If you have a viciously expensive shrub that gets eaten by strange bugs the first year you put it out, then it wasnt such a good plant to start with. Predators usually go after the weak, the sick, and the already ailing plants, animals, and trees.

We strive for perfect lawns (don't get me started on that one), "wildlife management" which means guys who get to kill things legally, and pesticides that do more harm than good. All of these things upset that balance incredibly.

And I guess where I am now is aiming for that kind of balance, both outwardly and inwardly. Beyond a bit of mild tweaking, it feels right to just let most things work themselves out. I dont know if that translates as wisdom or laziness, but it works for me.

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