It’s About Time – July 2015

Hot weather is great for the bugs. Swallowtails and dragonflies dart around with incredible zip in the morning sun, their warm bodies full of energy. Spiders are getting prominent now, with dozens of little, baby spider webs all around our house. They protect us from mosquitoes. When approached they shake their webs vigorously, supposedly to make themselves appear a blur and not catchable by potential predators.

This year some kind of small caterpillar, possibly a moth larva, has devastated the poison hemlock that’s so abundant in open, sunny spots around Delta Ponds. Maybe it could be used for control of this weed. There seems little effort to control poison hemlock despite it being deadly poisonous. It is especially abundant in the valley between Medford and Ashland. It looks very much like parsley. If it didn’t smell so bad there probably would be many more deaths reported.

Warm weather invites us to head for the coolness of the hills. With so little snow up there, the mosquito season is likely to end early. Camping in the woods is a good time to learn to tell the difference between the western red cedar and incense cedar. These two tend to occupy separate forest types. Western red cedar is more abundant to the north where incense cedar becomes scarce. Incense cedar is much more common in the mixed hardwood/conifer forests to the south. Their main region of overlap is in Lane County, both abundant here. Use the comparative drawings to make an easy identification.