While striking with green markings and a brown dot in the middle resembling a saddle, the saddleback caterpillar (Acharia stimulea) comes complete with a set of spiny horns fore and aft. Spines are also found along the body.

When prodded, the caterpillar arches in such a way so as to bring the maximum number of spines to bear on its attacker. And about these spines -  they are filled with venom both hemolytic (destroys tissue) and vesicating  (blistering) making the sting more painful than a wasp or a hornet.

Which is all to say if you accidentally grab one when putting your hand on a fence post, be prepared for a major “ouch” and a few hours with an ice pack.

While some weevils are destructive, there are also ones that fit under the “benefical” category. Such is the Rhinocominus latipes or mile-a-minute weevil.

As the name indicates, the mile-a-minute weevil’s diet is mile-a-minute, an invasive weed  accidentally introduced in the 1930′s in York, PA and now found in 12 nearby states.

Although it doesn’t quite grow a mile a minute, this invasive weed can grow 6″ a day.  A single plant can produce 2,000 seeds and can quickly cover shrubs and small trees. You’ll know it by it’s light green triangular leaves and sharp barbs along the stem – which is why it is also known as tearthumb.

The Rhinocominus latipes weevil has been used to significantly decrease mile-a-minute cover and seed production. And it is host-specific (only affecting mile-a-minute vines).  A recent story in the Baltimore Sun describes how it is being used in Maryland.

So where can I get my hands on this handy bug?

At least I knew what it was when it dropped out of nowhere onto on my arm and started marching upward towards my green “Christmas in April” t-shirt. I was sitting in the dining room at the farm minding my own business when this happened.  Sure enough, it was a Sycamore Tussock Moth, previously identified when it was making tracks along the top of the picnic table.

Perhaps it mistook the green of my shirt for it’s normal habitat- that being a Sycamore (or Linden) tree.

And when one dropped onto the book Ba was reading in the kitchen, she knew it wasn’t a bookworm but rather an outdoor type of critter that needed to be returned to it’s preferred dwelling. They are interesting bugs, don’t you think?

Dear dog walking down the street:

You don’t see me, do you? Because I’m hiding here in the liriope, blending in so well with the plants that I am well nigh invisible. But when you pass by I’ll pounce on you -  that’s just what I do.

Taller than my Tupelo tree, this volunteer sunflower is almost 7′ 11 feet and still growing starting to bloom. It’s a giant, likely a Russian Giant that came from a nearby bird feeder.

Perhaps I’ll finally see my goldfinches again when the seeds develop – they’ve been missing from my backyard garden this year despite some nice nyjer thistle and a host of native plants popular with their kind.

I work out…side. Love this video!

It’s a rite of spring – the first trek of the season to OTM.

OTM  (Over the Mountain)  is our plant procurement place of choice. A nursery otherwise known as Harbaugh’s  near Sabillasville MD in the scenic Carroll Valley. They have six greenhouses (or maybe seven) and plants abound from small six packs at a very reasonable price to full baskets of blooms.

And later in the summer when the pickings are slim, OTM has a “free perennials” table. That’s worth a trip over the mountain!

This is where

This is why

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