Monday, September 16, 2013

Conditioned responses*

I was having a discussion on Facebook today. It started out about spiders and morphed into snakes -- two creatures people (especially women) are afraid of.  Just a glance, a thought, and they're shuddering.


I understand many spiders and snakes are poisonous, so I imagine we humans have discouraged hanging out with the creatures as a safety issue since Neanderthal days.  Still, we have brains don't we?  Why can't we reason?  "Wolf spiders are harmless and, in fact, are actually beneficial to have around."  Or, "Garter snakes are warm, smooth and harmless and are even kind of pretty."

Why does a photo like this of a Wolf Spider taking good care of her babies make most folks want to run screaming:

When a photo like this, of a duck mama doing exactly the same thing elicit "Awwww... how sweet" responses?

Isn't it a shame that we can't break free from this conditioned response?  Isn't it too bad that so many folks can't see past the outside of something in order to see that they're really not so bad?

It goes further than bugs. 

This animal is frequently feared and vilified:

Whereas we see a dog like my puppy, and everyone assumes she's a sweetheart:

And it's about people, too.  We look and see a kid with a Mohawk and tats and think the worst.  We judge based on size, clothes, race...

For some reason, hearing the folks hating on spiders and snakes really made me sad today.  So I felt the need to share.

Thursday, May 02, 2013


This morning, I received a call my SILwith a plea.  You see, she's starting a bee hive on her property and had ordered bees which had arrived at our local post office.  They were not overly happy to have the bees in their building, especially since 5 - 10 had gotten loose (they were clinging to the side of the screen, but I can understand how that can be disconcerting.

They know me well there, I'm in a couple times a week either checking mail or mailing out books and prizes for LASR and Goddess Fish, so when I walked in, they greeted me by name.  When I said, "I'm here to pick up some bees." the man nearly jumped for joy.  "THANK GOD!!!" and he disappeared.  I'd expected to have to provide some kind of information, but I suppose the fact I even knew there were bees there was ID enough.

He was wearing gloves as he brought them to me.  I had none, but figured honeybees aren't typically aggressive and grabbed hold of the little wood bars between the two boxes (3 lbs of bees and a queen on one side, 2 lbs of bees on the other).  I got a LOT of strange looks as I walked to my car ... that many bees aren't quiet... just listen...

I'm really fascinated by this whole project of hers ... so as she moves forward, I'll try to keep you updated as well. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

This is One Improperly Named Plant!*

Yesterday, I dug up a 4x4 plot of my butterfly garden.  Last year, I'd let the "Obedient Plant" grow (normally I pull it up, you'll understand why shortly) because it's just lovely, and the butterflies and bees really love the flowers.

However, as I was edging grass, I discovered obedient plant roots.  So, thought I'd edge it back from the garden a bit.  When I jabbed the shovel in -- I discovered a carpet of roots!  The entire garden was now filled with obedient plant, to the exclusion of all else.

The obedient plant is MASSIVELY invasive and, while lovely, certainly doesn't belong in a garden that is limited in size.  I ruthlessly dug and pull out roots and more roots and more roots ... in fact, I filled up my five-gallon bucket THREE times and had piles of roots left over.

And, worse, I'm sure I've missed some.  So, this year, I'll make a point of weeding any and all obedient plant out of my butterfly garden.  I'll plant liatris instead.

Now I just have to pray I didn't destroy any milkweed roots that might have been in there...

Spring has sprung!