By Chuck Nafziger
This year has been unusual in many ways. It is year two of an insane presidential mud wrestling match that cannot bring anything good. It used to be that death and taxes were the only real certainties, but now perpetual war has been added. Retirement, jobs with benefits, and healthcare have become much more uncertain. The carbon dioxide level is increasing without meaningful restraint, so habitable weather is uncertain.
The world's and especially this country's food supply are going further downhill with more GMOs, more industrial foods with the life refined out and more toxins added. We are incredibly fortunate to have local organic growers. Through a great deal of work, we have a farmer's market and good food co-ops from which to get the healthy foods we do not grow ourselves. Not many people in the world are so blessed.
There is uncertainty as to the direction this neighborhood is going: more trees are being dropped, more traffic on our rural roads, more McMansions are sprouting, much more noise from trains planes and the freeway. It is uncertain if the county will ever restrict the sprawl or even enforce the anti-sprawl laws that already are on the books.
Even my bug buddies took a big hit this year. I found lots of bugs early spring, but then they disappeared. During the summer my place was a bug desert. The bees, spiders, dragonflies, shield bugs and lots of others were missing. That was not the case for biting flies. Mosquitoes, deer flies, and snipe flies were at their usual nasty numbers. There has been a slight bounce back this fall, but the tree frogs I see are less than half the size of what I have seen during this season in the past.
What happened to the bugs? The weather was not that much different. Are there more poisons being applied? I saw a helicopter with a spray bar flying over. It could have been spraying along with the nearby logging; it could have been working with the pipeline. Had the grasses that were planted last fall over the refilled excavation when the aging pipeline got patched treated with neonics? I will probably never know. I do know it is scary to see such a decline in local life.
The future may be uncertain but I think it is important to stay in the present and not to do too much "future tripping." For now, I want to at least better understand what is here around me. That may help me better understand how the pieces may work in a changing environment, and by itself, it is fun today.
I recently found two new to me wasps. One is a Bee Wolf. As an adult, it is a nectar eater and good pollinator, but it stocks each of its eggs with a paralyzed bee. I saw several of them at the Alger Hall Pollinator garden. That is a good indication that the garden is attracting enough bees to keep a predator happy. I found the other wasp exploring empty holes in my mason bee box. There are some wasps that dig into the bee larva pockets and lay their eggs on the bees, so I was a little worried. But this one was a Potter (Mason) Wasp. This kind of Potter Wasp uses holes in wood like Mason Bees for rearing its young. It lays an egg, provisions it with a caterpillar, and then seals the case with mud as a Mason Bee would do. I hope it finds and uses all the Cabbage Butterfly caterpillars.
Life is so very interesting, even during these changing times.