I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Looking for Littles

I went out this morning looking for something to take pictures of. I wanted to find a bee or some cool Praying Mantis... or, yes, some spiders on their webs. I was on a quest to find all things "little".  My "big" camera, the Nikon, is in the camera hospital, in Stockton, being cleaned and having a small operation to replace a worn out part. So I'm using my Canon Power Shot A520. It's a challenge to see what I can do with my old point and shoot.
I really like this little camera. I always keep it in my purse so I can catch shots without looking like some kind of camera professional from the local newspaper. You can be sneaky with a camera like this. The Canon is easy to use and even through it doesn't have the options that my Nikon does, it's a great little camera.
First I went outside and did some watering, weeding and messing around in the garden. Messing around means playing with the dogs, laying down on the chaise just listening to different sounds and watching the big vultures circle overhead. It's a privilege of retirement.
Then I decided to take some a picture of the grapes...
...when I felt something on my arm. I looked down and saw that someone was crawling on me.
It was less than an inch long and just the cutest little cricket you've ever seen. I don't know why he (or she) decided to hitch a ride but there it was, enjoying the view and acting quite friendly. I guess I should have been concerned because Wikipedia says that they are predatory and omnivorous, eating both plants or animals. But, it was so little... and cute. Wikipedia also says that they are harmless to humans. OK, I like that.
I guess it's true because it made a big, and I mean BIG, hop and disappeared into the row of grape plants.
Did you know that there are 900 different types of crickets out there in the cricket world? We better hope that they don't unionize and pack on some weight. They have been known to cause a lot of damage.... of Biblical proportions. Oh wait! That was locusts, which are grasshoppers. Sorry.
So I walked around looking for more little creatures....
On the Elizabeth Taylor rose I saw a bee so loaded with pollen that it could hardly fly...
...and a very young Praying Mantis landed on the Agapanthus but was moving too fast for my camera.
I only got this blurred shot...

It reminded me of an old movie called THE DEADLY MANTIS.... do you remember?.... "This was the Day That Engulfed the World With TERROR".. It was 1957. and back then... this movie was scary.
Take a look...
This is how my mind works. I love to think about some little creature in a different way.
A prehistoric Praying Mantis is "released from the Arctic ice to bring destruction to the modern world".
I could see this huge Mantis coming up from the river across the canyon heading straight for Jackson. Oh no!
And then, as I backed away from this impending doom, I almost fell over the wine barrel with the  French pussywillow in it. As I struggled  to maintain my balance I saw this..

These are Giant Willow Aphid...
Thousands of them... and listen to this:
The giant willow aphid is found only on the stems of willow (including pussy willow and Austree).  The size is approximately 3/16 of an inch with long legs that make it look even larger.
Bark aphids feed on sap from inside the twigs.  Heavy infestations and severe sap loss may result.
And can you believe this?
All these wingless females practice "parthenogenesis". THEY DON"T NEED MALES.
They lay eggs without mating. They give birth by themselves. Wow!
That could be another movie all  together. This could revolutionize the human world, couldn't it?
Now.... think about these little ladies being, oh, maybe a couple of feet bigger and walking the earth
....with us.
Scary thought isn't it?
It would be THE ATTACK OF THE DEADLY GIANT APHID.... like a movie... only REAL.... and guess who would win?
I'm telling you if these little insects, in my garden, ever find some of Alice In Wonderland's "drink me" bottles, we're in trouble.
Makes you stop and think doesn't it?... or maybe not.
I have a vivid imagination.
So, tomorrow, I will save my French Pussywillow from these "giants" with some insecticidal soap or "horticultural" oil.... as soon as I read up on what these remedies are and how they work.
Well, I enjoyed my morning looking for Littles.
The only thing that would have been better is that The Bean and his brother (my grandchildren) would have been here to make stories with me.
That would have been perfect.
Perfectly perfect.

But then I would have had to explain this.
You know.... the stink bug "dance". But one of those stink bugs doesn't look so good. I think it lost it's head... or is that a third party hiding in the leaves? Oh, good grief. I may have to delete this photo. I don't know what's going on here.


  1. OK Farmlady, the grapes were good, the bee was good, the mantis even ok[forget the giant one] & then the cricket, getting creepier but the APHIDS good grief those are disgusting, bring on the insecticidal soap [I have some]. EEEEUUUUWWWW

  2. nice...last year we had many preying mantis...have not seen many this year...i think they are way cool looking...

  3. You know perfectly well what's going on. :) It's a menage a trois. They're big in the insect world. Thank you for sharing your littles. Insects rule the world, we just don't know that yet.

  4. Connie, This was a very informative post. Your Pictures are great. I loved the video and love the old movies with large insects in them. You are a very good story teller. Have a great and blessed day. Madeline

  5. Wow what a great post ...you took me down memory lane with that old movie....I grew up on them..and being a wee one..I was always afraid that some day..........!
    now I need to tap into that fear in a story somehow....

  6. Great shots! We have some Cicada Killing wasps here this year that are really impressing me. I need to get some pictures, but they are quick moving...and it's really hot ;-).

  7. YIKES!! those aphids are freaky! I hope in your movie they don't travel north like killer bees! Your little point and shoot is mighty impressive. I love looking at the littles...that cricket is so pretty...might have to needle felt one some day.

  8. this was a great post and I needed it today - thank you!

  9. I'm going to have to report you blog for having adult content! Nasty bugs...

  10. Oh, you've got grapes! I want to plant some so badly, but I need something to support them first! Nice shots of 'littles'. Your grasshopper reminded me of a Mary Oliver poem that I posted a while back. I think you'll find it worth a look...

  11. Perfect... as always! Seems like you and I are more alike than we even realized, and I sure as heck can't wait to get home and hopefully see some of these "littlies" in person! (yes, that's a semi-blatant "hint" ;)

    I was just thinking this morning about tracking critters at home, so to finally get blogger to cooperate and actually open your page for me for a change.. well, it's simply serendipitous, methinks! xoxoxo


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