WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on Nov 30th, 2008

Solidago and Sphex

Nov 30

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AKA Goldenrod and Katydid Hunter
Great Black Wasp on goldenrod

Sphex pensylvanicus – Great Black Wasp

These are solitary wasps and are not aggressive like social wasps and usually do not sting. In fact this one seemed shy and did it’s best to avoid me. The adults feed on pollen and nectar. But their method of nesting and feeding their young are the stuff of science fiction horror movies and nightmares.

Females burrow in the ground or use and existing hole to nest and lay their eggs. So far so good, nothing really scary about that. But what comes next is – if you let your imagination get carried away. Great Black Wasps hunt crickets and their sting will immobilize but not kill their prey. They drag the captured katydids into the burrow and lay a single egg on each. When the eggs hatch the larvae have a nice live juicy meal.

I sometimes called my kids ‘life sucking parasites’ but I never considered putting them up for adoption like a Great Black Wasp mother. I guess human children inject something that instills love in their hosts.

Image is linked to a larger size (1024 x 768) so you can get a closer view and have more detailed dreams. For daydreaming use it as desktop background.

Posted by WiseAcre on Nov 2nd, 2008

Well what do you know – no more flowers

Nov 2

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The season for fresh flowers is over around here. I’ll have to pull flower photos out of my assorted stash that I never got around to posting this summer. Don’t ask me why but I hardly took any perennial flower photos this year. Guess if you see them every day they sort of fade from attention. But hunting for wildflowers is a different story. I’ve got to bring home proof that I at least spotted my prey. So this winter you should expect to see more wildflower pics.

Field of wild mustard

This was a field of wild mustard on a day in the first week of July that I won’t be seeing the like of in a long time. Sunny for sure but the temperatures are going to be a lot lower for quite a while. I didn’t get out of the truck to shoot any individual flowers – it was just a pretty sight and I was happy enough preserving the image.

Potsdam bridge

I can’t remember why I had my truck in the shop. It takes a real beating and has to go in for repairs often. But while waiting I snapped this photo of one of the Potsdam bridges. No real reason to show it except I seem to have gotten sidetracked with landscape photos of that day. I’ll show more but first I want to re-post another photo taken during my wait.

Milkweed flowers

The post was titled ‘Holy Flowering Fangs Batman’ but there’s no need to go looking it up. It was the photo that made the post.

Grasse River

I covered a lot of ground that day. By the time the truck was repaired I figured it best not to work and go fishing instead. My favorite spot is on the Grasse River near my house but I decided to head downriver and try a different location. The river has plenty of areas like this where it gets shallow enough to wade. It’s surprising how many smallmouth bass these areas hold but they do run small. Catching dozens are no problem and it’s usual to hook into a couple decent size ‘keepers’ at any given time. Unfortunately that day wasn’t usual.

Smallmouth Bass

To change my luck I gave the little guy a big kiss. It must have worked. When I got home my wife gave me a big kiss even though I was late for dinner.

Posted by WiseAcre on Sep 28th, 2008

Heal All Flowers – A Lichen – and a Squeeze Cat

Sep 28

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Prunella vulgaris

This is a Eurasian alien often found in lawns. It is a member of the mint family and tea / gargle made from the leaves is/was used to treat sore throats and mouth sores. In China a tea made from the flowering plant was considered ‘cooling’ and used to treat ‘heat’ in the liver. The plant contains the diuretic compound ursolic acid and is used to treat kidney aliments.

Heal All

I don’t know about heated liver except it’s best cooked with onions. And as far as a diuretic goes – nothing beats a pot of strong coffee.

And now for something completely different.

Lichen Wallpaper

Lichen fruiting body

What do you get when you mix algae and fungus? I got another desktop background


More? How about tacking up a cat on your desktop?

I couldn’t resist posting this photo of my daughter’ssqueeze cat. Poor Mavie was ‘raised by’ my youngest daughter when both were toddlers. She used to take poor Mavie to bed and lay on him so he couldn’t escape. Now he isn’t happy until someone gives him a big squeeze.


If you think he’s cute enough the image is linked to a larger image suitable to use as desktop wallpaper.  You can’t squeeze him but he’ll be happy enough as your cat background.

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