In the middle of July I noticed a rather large bug – about 1.5 inches long. When I picked it up and turned it over it hardly responded. Poking its underside elicited a few kicks of its feet. Here is the view from above.
And, here is the underside.
And, here is another bug that is about six inches long.
Back in June when the mullein plants popped up, most of the heads were affected by some kind of bug that chomped away on the head and some of the top leaves. Here are two photos.
A more normal mullein head would be like the following.
In September while harvesting chestnuts a few worms/caterpillars like the one in the following picture were sighted in the trees. Without knowing what it is, I wonder what effect, if any, it might have on the chestnut trees and the burrs that contain the nuts.
In the Fall of 2012 I planted some fragrant sumac bushes on a hillside. Every year since then the local deer insist on pruning the bushes without asking me first. Here is some of their handy work this Fall.
I place three foot diameter fencing rings around the pecan and chestnut trees to discourage them from helping me prune. Yet despite the efforts of the deer the sumac bushes have come back every Spring to play the game again.
While sitting under an oak tree, the following critter dropped on me(inch scale).
It apparently has 16 feet – 3 pair in front, 4 pair slightly behind the middle, and one pair on the tail end(centimeter scale).
Whoa! What are these vermin feeding on the pecan tree leaves?
After removing hundreds of caterpillars that were feeding on the tree leaves by crushing them between my fingers, here is what little foliage remained.
The caterpillars had almost completely defoliated the tree before I noticed it. So far this is the only affected tree that I have found. And, here is a closer look at what the caterpillars leave behind after feeding.
There are lots of birds that feed on the insects in the trees and leave their poop on the leaves and protective fence that encircles each tree. Sometimes they even land on the limbs and break some off. So, why did the birds not find and feed on the hundreds of caterpillars that were on this tree?
The June beetles (June bugs) arrived in late April this year. During the daytime they burrow down under ground and then come out at night to eat my pecan trees. As you can see in the following two pictures they tend to attack the top shoots of the pecan trees.
Last Fall after transplanting pecan trees from pots into the field, I sowed cereal rye around the trees. The following picture shows the rye at about five feet high and towering over the four foot high fence ring that surrounds the small tree. Those trees were not affected by the June beetles. I guess the beetles look for tall trees/plants to attack.
In May, 2015, the beetles did major damage to many of the young pecan trees that I had planted the previous Fall – they completely defoliated some of the small trees. Those trees did survive and grew back leaves but their growth has been slow. Trying to prune the affected trees to a central leader in 2015 was practically impossible. But, in 2016, there was very minor damage by the June bugs. This year they are back and attacking pecan trees. This on year/off year cycle fits the pattern noted by some writers. One interesting item to note is that in May, 2016, that same field had thousands of fire flies at night and there were some dead beetle shells seen in the daytime. The weather has been cooler this year and when the temperature is 50 degrees or below the fire files do not fly around at night.
One method I am considering to combat the beetles involves useing ducks and lights. By placing a light out in the field at night with a pool of water under it and some ducks near by, the beetles might come to the light and fall down into the water to make soup for the ducks. But, it would be necessary to prevent the owls and critters from crashing the party. Although chickens go to bed a sundown, ducks can party all night long.
After placing some sorghum grain on top of a pile of straw bales intended for the various birds to nibble on, this brazen little guy discovered the location and decided to help himself.
One night when I returned from town at about 10 pm there were four raccoons – three babies and one adult – sitting on the straw bales helping themselves. When I shouted at them, two babies just stared back at me with their bandit eyes.
In the last part of October there were two days when swarms of beetles filled the air around the steel building on my property. One day was after two days of rain and the other day was after a day of strong winds. There were many configurations of spots on their backs as the following picture shows. I wonder which are beneficial and which might be detrimental to the plants that I am trying to grow.
In the second picture they appear to be searching for an entry to the building and as a place to hole-up for the Winter.
When one of the beetles is crushed, the aroma reminds me of the times when my mother was not happy about how they invaded the ceiling light fixtures and were roasted.
The Fall webworms have been very active this year. The eggs are attached to a leaf in a small white silky mass. The resulting caterpillars create webs to protect themselves from predators while they eat the leaves inside the web and grow. Some trees have been completely defoliated. The following picture shows a pecan tree with numerous webs.
The caterpillars do not seem to bother oak trees very much. The following picture shows a tall hickory tree completely engulfed whereas the nearby oak trees show very little effect.