Wildlife Surprises in the Garden

| 9/8/2020 10:17:00 AM

cicada molting 

I usually shift into a somewhat zen mode when gardening. My movements slow, my mind empties and drifts, and I slip into a sort of other-world place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still firmly grounded in this earth’s reality — I simply become hyper-focused and in the moment while relaxing and letting go of almost everything else on my plate.

One of the benefits in this state of being is that I tend to notice the things around me in great detail. I maintain this vigilance so that I don’t disturb any wildlife I may come across — especially when I’m rearranging their habitats. I’ve relocated more praying mantis that I can count as I remove unwanted (to me) vegetation. I’ve spend countless moments conversing with insects, arachnids, snakes, and gastropods — not that they understand a word, but I tend to believe they feel the calm energy I’m sharing.

I was working in this zen state while cleaning the invasive tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) volunteers out of our hedge. I wandered over to the shoots trying to restart the Bradford pears we’d removed and sat to continue. As I was clearing the suckers, I noticed a wonderful gift (pictured above) — a cicada freshly emerged from its casing. After I snapped a photo with the phone in my pocket, I hoped it wasn’t too bothered as I gently relocated the little guy. I was very grateful to have seen them together — cicada and shell — I usually see one without the other.

While digging potatoes a day or so later, I came across more circle-of-lifing. I found and relocated some fresh leopard slug eggs and their parent. Fun side note: most slugs are hermaphroditic, some don’t need to mate in order to reproduce, and leopard slugs can mate with any other leopard slug they come upon.

leopard slug eggs

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