When you deal with nature, it is a given that you will also be dealing with fierce creatures, both plant and animal. You must deal with them very firmly and not show any mercy or your garden will be just more fodder for the beasts.
Naughty – Not Nice – Bunnies
Take rabbits for instance.The incursions that rabbits make into my garden are far more damaging than deer. Rabbits operate under the radar and skulk about at night when you can’t see them. Go out and visit your garden in the light of day and all the tops have been sheered off neatly while you were sleeping. I am a big Beatrix Potter fan and love her illustrations of delightfully naughty bunnies. Her bunnies are mischievious but definitely not mean.
Bunnies are not usually thought of as fierce but if you are a Monty Python fan as I am, you are familiar with the bunny in the cave who initially looks so cute and suddenly turns into a raving killer rabbit that pulls limbs off. Not that my bunnies are going to mutate into killers, but they definitely are plant killers. I try to turn a blind eye when my dog kills them.
Recently, I discovered a nest of baby bunnies in my compost pile and resigned myself to future damage by an exponentially growing population of bunnies. I kept telling myself that I should nip it in the bud, but I am a softie and have trouble harming soft furry things. A few nights later, I saw my Border Collie making running starts at the compost pile and coming out with tiny squeaking bunnies that she quickly and efficiently broke their little scrawny necks. She then proceeded to chow down on the succulent morsels. Outwardly, I was horrified and yelled at her to leave them alone, but inwardly I egged her on. Once a Border Collie gets hold of an animal, there is no letting go.
The Dreaded GroundHog
So, when a groundhog turned up, I knew that I had to take care of it before the dog tangled with a bona fide ferocious animal. Borrowing a hava-heart trap from a friend, I followed her advice and baited it with apples and peanut butter and waited. The hava-heart, which traps the animal with food, doesn’t harm them but can make a ground-hog very ornery. It took less than 24 hours for the creature to be captured and was it angry! He chortled, glowered, snorted and smelled really bad. He was plump, had beady eyes, and tried to snap at anything that got near his face. I carefully avoided eye contact so I wouldn’t feel sorry for him. We gingerly stuck a pole through the carrier and lifted the whole thing into the back of my pickup truck. He was a big fat one and we struggled to lift the cage! The object is to travel at least 5 or 6 miles away so the hopefully disoriented and confused groundhog would not return. Another factor to take into account is avoid making the groundhog someone else’s problem so we looked for large fields and woods far from houses. Once we found the perfect spot, we opened the door and the ground-hog shot out like a cannon, hopefully never to be seen again. I breathed a little easier since the damage that a ground-hog makes to a garden is like scorched earth. Nothing would be left!
Snakes Are Nice!
Yes, you read that right! I like snakes in the garden. They kill voles, mice and other nasty critters for me. They will chow down on my bullfrogs when they are crafty enough to catch them but there are plenty to go around. This is a picture of a snake devouring a frog which seems to be way too large. But he was fat and satisfied a couple of hours later!
Saddlebacks Are the Worst Kind of Fierce
My nemesis in the garden is the Saddleback Caterpillar. Fortunately, this is the only poisonous caterpillar that I have encountered in Maryland. Further south in Florida, they are blessed to have a poisonous array of nasty ones – http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/state/poisonous-hag-io-puss-and-saddleback-caterpillars-flourish-in-south-florida-as-weather-warms
Becky of cloverandthyme.wordpress.com saw my picture of the saddleback and exclaimed that they look like “evil clowns”! I couldn’t have described them better myself.
Several years ago, I brushed against a Saddleback that was devouring my Japanese Maple and it felt like my arm was on fire. Their barbed poisonous spines become embedded into your skin and the recommendation to remove them is to scotch tape the barbs out of your skin. The stinging was extremely painful. Saddlebacks can also cause swelling, nausea, and a painful and long-lasting rash. It is difficult to get the venom out of your skin and it hurts ten times worse than a bee sting. Saddlebacks start appearing at the end of the season so we have a couple of months free yet.
- Owned by Bunnies (mulchaddict.wordpress.com)
- SFF Bunnies (and Other Strange, Rabbit-Type Creatures) (tor.com)
- bunny lovelies! (flightsoffancybykristy.wordpress.com)