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August 16, 2013

This is the summer of the grasshopper and fruit gnat

NORMAN — If you have walked through a patch of grass no larger than the size of a scarf, you probably have disturbed a bevy of grasshoppers ranging in size from nymphs to full-grown 3-inch and longer with majestically sculptured jointed legs that launch them into instant flight with their aero-dynamic wings fully extended. If you look closely at their large compound bulging eyes, sleek bodies, powerful wings, etc., you must respect the process of evolution that has produced such a unique animal.

Robins and other yard birds seem to have put off breeding and laying their eggs later than usual this year. I noticed that the front and backyard robins are just now catching grasshoppers to feed to their young. Brown thrushes taught their fledglings to fly by using the stockade fence as landing and takeoff spots. Cardinals built their nests in several evergreen holly plants in the backyard.

I throw songbird seed on the ground in the backyard so I can watch the antics of the different birds who feed there. Sparrows, of course, outnumber cardinals, thrushes, goldfinches, house wrens, etc., vying for their fair share of grain.

Gnats are another of evolution’s success stories; they’re driving me crazy. Swarms of them slip into any tiny crack in tomatoes, bananas and any other fruit not placed in the refrigerator. Gnats are very difficult to deal with, since they are so small they can enter most any screen designed to keep insects out. These tiny beasties are very hard to kill because they sense air movement and have fled before the flyswatter smashes them. Still, I refuse to use insecticides because they cause more harm to the environmen.; Gnats have a place in the scheme of Mother Nature; they help clean the environment by speeding up the decay of decomposing matter.

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