Thursday, July 29, 2010

Taking Care of Nature

We have a regular butterfly nursery in our Bugville Treehouse these days! We rescued four Gulf Fritillary chrysalids from ants on our passion vine and placed them in snack cups which we then placed in the BT to keep them safe from predators. Luckily they all made their chrysalids on the vine so we were able to snip off the leaf or section of vine then tape it into the cups, keeping the chryaslids upright. (Which is important for proper butterfly development, don't ya know.)

The Middle Child discovered the attack; one was WRIGGLING in response to the ants while in chrysalis form. I had no idea they could do that! We had to spring into action, of course. The benefit? We get to release the little critters when they hatch, which is a magical thing. We've got two down, two to go.

On another note, we had our trees trimmed by professional arborists today. (I hope they didn't damage any butterflies in the process; they promised they would be careful!) This is an annual event around here since a properly pruned tree will better withstand hurricanes. We've been using the same company since before we moved into our current home, so I'd guess about six or seven years. I found them when the owner was quoted in our local paper. I figured if he's quoted in the paper, then he must know what he's talking about, so that's the guy for me. I knew, from going through Hurricane Andrew, seeing the damage to the trees, and reading about it afterward, that you can't hire just anybody to trim trees. It's a skilled profession and if any fly by night comes knocking at your door they can do some serious damage! (You can also get in trouble with code enforcement since hat racked trees are against the law around here.)

As an example of what proper pruning can accomplish, I am constantly astounded by one of our live oak trees. When we first moved in it was a sad, pathetic little thing, maybe 20 feet tall if that. Our tree guys have pruned it annually and it's now gorgeous! It's tall and graceful and flowy. But the real surprise comes when you compare it to the trees on our swale, which are maintained by our homeowner's association. The swale trees were the same height as our oak when we moved in and are also pruned annually, but they are pruned by the landscapers, not arborists, and all they do is "lift" the tree so that the foliage isn't scraping up the cars that drive by. The swale trees are now... the same height as they were six years ago. The ONLY difference is the pruning! We have done NOTHING beyond that for our trees. (OK, the tree guys throw out a little fertilizer when they're done.) Amazing, amazing, amazing.

But the arborists got here about three hours earlier than I wanted them to, so I'm tired. (Chain saws buzzing outside your window are not exactly conducive to sleeping.) I'm reading back over what I've written to edit it and... is it coherent at all? I'm too wiped out to tell so I'd better quit typing and go to bed.

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