Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.
Monday, September 7, 2015
Killing Things - Difficult Choices in the Garden
The agaves... Oh, the agaves. They got larger than I thought they would faster than I thought they should. The ones I tested by growing in deep shade gained size more slowly but they all pupped prolifically.
Curbside, in full sun, the agaves are now presenting a physical hazard to pedestrians on our side of the street. Of particular concern, their potential to snag unwary elementary school children, trudging wearily up the steep hill in front of our house weekday afternoons after their bus stops at our corner. Agaves are hogging all the sunny spots, blocking the sprinkler system, extending their heavy and dangerously serrated leaves in every direction. They've simply got to go.
Polistes bellicosus, yellow and brown paper wasps.
They came speeding out, flying directly at me. I backed away equally speedily (adrenaline apparently a great lubricant for a "mature" lady's joints) and with a bit of flapping and squawking, managed to not get stung. As I retreated ever further away, the wasps kept coming out, circling in agitated fashion. The "Bellicosus" in their name turns out to be predictively descriptive.
Regular readers may recall I was doing pruning recently on the downhill side of the driveway when I was stopped in my tracks by the presence (and agitated behaviors) of wasps of two different types in other nests.
Polistes carolinas. I managed to get the bare minimum of work done that day, approaching plants to prune from a different vantage point, and the rest of that job I relegated to an "after it freezes" timeline to avoid further disturbance or the need for eradication.
While I used to feel slightly nervous in their presence, now I welcome their ongoing patrols for pests to take back to the young in their nests. From what I've read, the spared foragers from the nest I destroyed will either go out to start their own nest or join a sister's nest as subordinates. As I stood watch from a safe distance, I felt both defeated and sorrowful. I say I garden for wildlife, and here I was, taking life. It was and still is unsettling and unpleasant.
There are also those of you out there who will think me silly to be bothered by killing a nest of wasps. These are not human beings after all, they are insects. There are plenty more wasps where these came from. I know of at least a dozen other nests and have no doubt there are others I have yet to encounter, all within the bounds of our small suburban lot. The two nests I discovered further down the hill were both spared after all, and some might find that a more than reasonable compromise.
I just don't like being the direct cause of their dying.