Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Not Enough Bugs

It doesn’t seem like a good year for insects. I’ve only counted seven butterflies in the garden, in spite of having a nice crop of purple coneflower, as well as gallardia, zinnia, and prairie star. The cricket chorus, which begins around the end of July, was a little late this year, and seems less robust than usual. I’m used to hearing a loud, pulsing drone, which may be a certain kind of bug’s song, but which I think of as different crickets’ harmonizing. Against the background of the chorus, I listen, as I lay me down to sleep, to two or three neaby soloists. This year the drone is practically faint, and there’s less nearby chirruping.

Barbara, who is one of those people who is attractive, or at least more noticeable, to mosquitos, says she hasn’t been bitten much this year. No cloud without a silver lining, but I still wonder if the insects are suffering. It was a dry spring, so skeeter hatches were fewer and smaller. What influences butterfly and cricket proliferation? Being an environmental paranoiac, or at least alert to possibility, I have to wonder, have we pushed the envelope too hard. On the other hand, populations rise and fall. When I used to hang out in the woods, I thought some years were good fox years, or quail years, some lean. In the mid-nineties, turkeys, which I’d never seen in those parts before, began to appear. Succession happens without our interference, but we are actors on the ecological stage.

How do I know, and how do I know what to do about fewer insects, whatever my species part in their decline might be. They’re pollinators and prey for birds, whose welfare also sffects me.

I got all the major cracks in the driveway filled. I feel like I cut corners. I didn’t cover the places where earlier seal coats had split into alligator patterns, and I could have smoothed out places where there’s a lot of aggregate showing. Instead, I stopped when I ran out of filler. I found a few places where I’d left roots, and I went ahead and covered the dry woody things. The next step is to squeegee the seal coating itself over everything tomorrow. I’m curious to see how that goes, and I’m curious to see how my job stands up to the coming winter.

No comments: