Thursday, May 26, 2011

Micro Ecosystem

I love my little yard. Watching the thriving ecosystems at work brings me daily joy. I hope the next residents of this little house will get as much out of the bugs and lizards as i do, and will in turn give back to the little creatures to keep them around.

My early crop of dill was frozen this Spring, causing many swallowtail butterfly larva to starve or be easily picked off by birds. Pickings were slim. Thankfully, a new crop has come up tall and lush and the butterflies returned to lay another batch of eggs. On my way out to the car yesterday i took a few moments to pause and look at the tiny ecosystem flourishing in my front yard. It's amazing how much can be going on within the confines of one dill plant.

Top: Adult Ladybug (ladybeetle) Left: Ladybug eggs Right: Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar

The dill is coated with aphids. You might be tempted to squish or spray them, but i know there are ladybugs about that need feeding and that need a constant supply of aphids to keep them around. If i was to remove the aphids myself, the ladybugs would have to fly off to better feeding grounds. I want them around to protect my other plants, so i leave the aphids on the dill. I am rewarded:
Adult ladybugs, ladybug nymphs, mating ladybugs and ladybug eggs!

I also see some tiny swallowtail caterpillars in their 2nd or third instar. Still teeny tiny, but munching away. The dill won't last long once these guys get bigger. Thankfully there are more dill plants this season and they're flowering which gives even more protection from the mockingbirds.

Spiders can also be found in webs weaved amongst the flowers. Flies land on the flowers and get caught in the webs. Any help against flies is well appreciated by me!

It's amazing how transformed this once dead landscape is today. October 2007 saw a great change of hands of this little property. My hands may be leaving this homestead, but the ecosystem now thrives and should continue to do so as long as food, water, and natural gardening methods are provided. I'm looking forward to a little break from gardening while we transition to our new home, but i'm excited to get my hands dirty again in our forever homestead and make another ecosystem thrive around me.

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