Garden Bugs, Grubs and More

As I’ve mentioned before our house is nestled down in the woods. The former owners cut up logs and threw them into a huge pile which is now happily decomposing.  We’ve used some of this mulch in our garden areas (well away from the house).

Here’s some of what we’ve observed from this decomposing pile!

We found lots of these large beetles in our mulch pile.  My best guess is that this is a “Bess Beetle” (or Betsy Beetle) or Horned Passalus.  We often see three or four huddled together when we break apart the decomposing logs. From what I’ve read these beetles are actually quite social–all life stages live together. Both sexes care for their young. They communicate by rubbing their wings on their abdomen making a squeaking noise. This is in order to communicate with other members of their colony.
I think this grub is the larvae that turns into the Bess Beetle, above.
There are lots of earthworms in the mulch pile as well. Here’s the Bess Beetle again next to it.
I don’t know what this grub is, but you can see the tunnel it has made in this log.
I read that when you find these rolly-polly bugs you’d better be on the lookout for termites.
And look at what we found when we broke open this log!! Termites!! Yikes — keep these away from our house!!
This is a five-lined skink.  It’s the first lizard we’ve seen this season. LD and DD were so excited they made a “home” for it out of a big plastic bin. They eat mostly insects like grasshoppers, beetles, spiders and caterpillars. They also eat earthworms, snails, slugs and other things. We’d best let it go soon since they breed in the spring.  The female lays up to a dozen eggs and she stays with them until they are hatched (in June-August).
We were very excited to see a red-headed woodpecker quite close up the other day.  I wish I had taken this photo, but it’s actually from wikimedia commons. Some eastern states consider the red-headed woodpecker “threatened” but we hear it all the time pecking at trees in the woods nearby.
This is our wood pile and compost area. You can’t really tell from this photo, but we transplanted some wild rhododendrons and wild holly bushes to try to hide the compost pile from view. The kids and I placed logs around the bushes to help keep the leaves contained. Down past the wood pile, you can see the rope ladder hanging in the tree.
Funny enough, there are very few trees we can hang this from since most branches are quite high.  But this location is just perfect since I so often spend time chopping up branches to add to the wood pile (and I work next to this tree).

We spent a lot of time outside this afternoon.  DD was SO proud of herself. She made it up into the tree (where LD is sitting in the photo).  She kept climbing up and down and was thrilled at her new-found skill.  I sure remember that feeling when I was a girl! I spent a LOT of timeup  at the top of the tree in our front yard.  My Mom was afraid of heights and couldn’t look up at me as I was well over the height of the roof of the house.  SHHHhhhhhh don’t tell MY kids that! I want them a bit closer to the ground!!

And of course we have all kinds of seedlings inside… we’re totally anticipating spring planting time!!

I meant to add that we went on a hunt for all these grubs and bugs so that LD could create a page for his plant/garden lapbook about “What’s In Our Garden.”  I’ll show you that page sometime soon!

PS — This past weekend hubby and I transplanted all of the flowers that were in one of the garden beds.  Then we planted 50 strawberry plants!  I think they don’t produce much the first year, but sure do have my fingers crossed that we get some yummy strawberries later this summer!

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