The Disappearing Fern

My first orders of business when I return from a trip are to check on the bunnies

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and then to tour my plants to check for any changes.

To my shock and horror, when I peered into the baby fern box

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my prized Dragon’s Tail fern/Aspleniaceae x Ebenoides was missing many fronds.

Not whole fronds. The midribs remained sticking out nakedly brown without the lovely green scales.

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Something had eaten the Dragon’s Tails down to the bones.

There were droppings left on the dish below.  Evidence.

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A hungry caterpillar was feasting on my favorite fern.

I searched the soil before examining each frond.

I found a small green snacker, but knew he was not large enough to produce the poop.

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Ah Ha!    Bad, Bad Larva Brown.  He and his little Green Sidekick were escorted outside.

Go pick on a bigger fern you bullies.

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I hope little Dragon’s Tail can recover from this shock.

FERN MAMA

My Weed

There is a whole world on one weed in my garden.

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I did not kill this weed because of a hybrid I fell in love with in Tuscany.

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So when I saw it growing on the bank, I staked it up to compare it with the hybrid.

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What a wonderful weed it has been.

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This wild Passion vine/Maypop/Passiflora incarnata has been a whole laboratory.

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There are ants on the pods and stems.

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The best part is all the caterpillars of various sizes.

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Tiny, shiny, spiky, orange and black caterpillars of Fritillary butterflies.

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I check on this plant every day and find something new.

An added bonus is a beautiful, blue morning glory that grew up into the Passion vine.

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My daddy’s favorite color of blue, bluebird blue.

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I have been blessed by this weed.  I am so thankful I did not kill it.

Where would all those lovely caterpillars be?  Nowhere, that’s where.

Follow the weed.

Lovin’ some Larvae

Butterflies do not just hatch from the egg with wings.

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Fritillary Butterfly

They must first go through a larval stage called caterpillar.

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Variegated Fritillary caterpillar on Passion vine

Then they have to bind themselves up for a while to go through metamorphosis.

While they are wrapped up(pupating) in the chrysalis (not pictured),

all their cells rearrange into a butterfly or moth.  Then they have their wings.

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Sphinx moth caterpillar on Four o’clocks

Now everybody loves butterflies and colorful moths.

What if we went around killing all the weird and spiky worms in our yards?

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Fritillary caterpillar after molting

Then there would be no lovely fliers later, because everyone killed them as babies.

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Gulf Fritillary caterpillar on Passion vine

If you don’t ” love some larvae”, leave them alone.

They are waiting for their wings.

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FLOWER