Dragonflies, Butterflies, and More

Summer has filled the yard with flying insects.

Dragonfly June 29

I don’t care for the sudden swarms of biting flies and mosquitoes, but the dragonflies seem happy. They hunt ravenously from dawn to dusk, eating everything they can catch–including flies and mosquitoes.

Dragonfly July 4

Dragonfly July 9

Dragonfly July 10

(Of course, they pause every so often to mate.)

Dragonfly June 16

Butterflies aren’t as numerous as dragonflies, but the butterfly bush, milkweed, and lantana draw a surprising variety of species.

Butterfly July 3

Butterfly July 10

Painted Lady July 9

Red Admiral July 12

Butterfly May 25

Butterfly May 29

Butterfly May 20

Butterfly June 11

Butterfly July 1

Bees are more interested in the salvia and dill.

Bee July 9

Bee July 3

And the June bugs seem strangely attracted to Treebeard, our young live oak tree.

June Bug July 4

June Bug July 4

All in all, it’s been a good summer in the yard. So far. (Though if it gets much itchier, I may end up spending the rest of July and much of August hiding in the house.)

June Bugs in August

June Bug August 2

Last year marked the first appearance of June bugs (Green June Beetles) in the yard. I was delighted by their unexpected arrival, but also confused. Where did they come from? What changed in our local environment, to bring them in such numbers after over a decade of conspicuous absence?

June Bug August 2

They’re back this year, in even larger numbers. I’m happy to see them, and I’m somewhat mystified by the number of resources that call them pests. This page at the Penn State Entomology website provides a detailed list of potential damage caused by the June bugs’ grubs. Reading through the list, it seems to me that most of the effects are cosmetic.

June Bug August 2

Mounds and tunnels are one of the major complaints. For me, these small blemishes in the yard are exciting evidence of life.

June Bug August 2

This article from the University of Georgia indicates that a more serious problem may arise if the grubs’ tunnels disrupt root networks, but also says, “A small amount of green June beetle tunneling can help aerate the soil and be beneficial…”

June Bug August 2

As I was growing up, I heard over and over again how June bugs bring moles into yards, because moles eat grubs. This article from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension argues that moles are more attracted to earthworms than grubs, and, since earthworms tend to indicate a healthy lawn, moles might be considered to also indicate a healthy lawn. (I confess that I would be delighted to find a mole in our yard. More life!)

As for June bugs, the article counsels patience rather than intervention. (I should point out that the article was published in 2006, which means it may not reflect current recommendations. I couldn’t find a more recent reference regarding the connection between June bugs and moles, other than this similar article from 2007. Please comment, if you find something newer!)

Patience is not one of my foremost virtues. Fortunately, in this case no patience is required of me. I have no wish to rid the yard of June bugs. In fact, I hope they stay a bit longer. And come back next year.

June Bug August 2

Because they remind me of childhood, when summers were filled with long hours of happiness.

June Bug August 2

And because I want to keep trying for the “perfect” June bug photo…

June Bug August 2

June Bugs, Escaping a Spider (Arachnophobia Alert!), and a Publication Note

The June bug invasion continues.

This morning, one of the June bugs had a narrow escape after flying into an orb weaver web. (Look away!!) It was a failure of either bite or venom for the spider, a triumph of size and strength for the June bug.

Publication Note:  My poem “Means of Dispersal” appears in the July/August 2012 issue of Eclectica. Many thanks to poetry editor Jennifer Finstrom!

June Bugs

For me, “June bug” is synonymous with “summer”. I have vivid memories of a yard teeming with these large beetles, loud with the drone of their wings. There was a trick to catching them, a certain turn in their flight that signaled they were landing. Watch, watch, watch, then race across the yard to the spot where one had just disappeared into the grass. I remember the pinch and scratch of their legs and the sharp odor they left on my hands.

Here in Virginia, summer after summer has passed with no June bugs. Since leaving Tennessee, I’ve only seen one or two. Until this week. Seemingly out of nowhere, dozens of them have buzzed into the yard. It’s been a blissful dose of nostalgia, watching them come and go, listening to their heavy flight. I’m no longer interested in catching them, except with my camera, but I smell them on my skin again. Their unexpected arrival is a breezy memory that makes me yearn for another sprint through the sunlit yard of my youth.

It never occurred to me, before beginning this post, that what I know as a June bug might not be the same insect that everyone knows as a June bug. For clarification, when I say “June bug”, I actually mean green June beetle.

To further complicate matters, I photographed the next beetle on the same day, thinking it was simply a small individual of the same species. Turns out, this is probably an entirely different species, an Emerald Euphoria beetle.

A few years ago, Mother called me after hearing a song on the radio called “Junebug Waltz”. She loved the song so much that she searched out the CD, It Don’t Mean I Don’t Love You by Hurray for the Riff Raff. I’m grateful to her for introducing me to the song, and the group.