“Nose Boulder”

“Gross Alert”…”Gross Alert…Condition Red”… Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

The other day we were having a late lunch / early dinner accompanied by our hobbits. We had the usual “musical chairs” kerfuffle as we always do facing the simple, but apparently daunting entity…a rectangular table with four chairs surrounding it!  It is like we all have to subliminally agree who sits where like a family of dogs battling to get pole position in the basket.  The despair on our twenty-something waiter’s face was tangible, I was him in another life.  Once finally settled,  the same waiter came back to take our food order,  as he approached the table, I noticed him, noticing my youngest, extracting a rather stubborn… (I had no idea mining had prematurely started…it wasn’t scheduled) “nose boulder”, a boulder that, if frosted, would not have looked out of place on the North face of K2, oh yes, it cast a sinister dark shadow over the table on its rather ungainly and secretive birth.  My appetite receded.

With the substantial “ore” now presenting itself proudly on his unsanitary stalagmite finger, my wife was on it before I even had chance to move in slow motion toward it, moaning a long drawn-out Hollywood “Nooooooooo!”

As fast as the unmentionable was was smothered by a napkin, a reaction ensued that nobody, including the restaurant kitchen staff, waiters, front of house, could ever of anticipated…we had apparently unleashed the…

with our nasal-prospecting denial…with one final desperate lunge across the table he tried to re-obtain his “precious”,  out of nowhere he screamed out…

“Hey!…I was gonna’  eat dat!”

A silence fell over the establishment.

Moving quickly on…

I walked around to my stock tank early this morning, optimistically hoping that perhaps it may have showered during the night.  Not yet quite awake, (pre-coffee),  I walked up to the tank to take a look.

As I peered inside, this fledgling blue jay erupted with a horrific scream that could have woken the

I was amazed how such a small bird could deliver such a decibel level.   I scooped it up into a bucket and quickly released it before it could gather itself and emit the ear bleeding racket once again.  The bird’s parents immediately flew into a nearby tree and started to call for it.

After my shattered morning nerves had returned to normal, I wandered to my papyrus stock tank. I had recently added a couple of canna lily transplants and wanted to check in on them.

This worm has a winter tree-lined avenue scene on the side of it, complete with white fluffy clouds.

Canna lilies are mostly pest-free, but like these recent transplants they sometimes fall victim to the Canna Leaf Roller, a particularly disturbing and destructive olive worm.  This is the larva of the Brazilian skipper butterfly

Photo by the Massachusetts Butterfly Club

Calpodes ethlius

also known at the Larger Canna Leaf Roller. The worms cut the canna leaves and roll them over to live inside the cozy domicile while pupating and scoffing down on the leaf, and can they scoff!  Look at my new cannas!

It has been a week of finding new insects in the Patch, three to be precise, the next one was waiting for me as I turned over one of my rotating compost bins…

Perhaps a long horned beetle of some sort?  Check out those front feet.

And finally…

A Squash Vine Borer,

Melittia cucurbitae

found where else, but on one of my squash plants.  The adult squash vine borer are active during the daytime and rest on the leaves in the evening, different from most moths that are active at night.  The borer is a caterpillar as a nymph and a moth as an adult.

The moth is often mistaken for a bee or wasp because of its movements, and the bright orange hindleg scales. The females typically lay their eggs at the base of leaf stalks, and the caterpillars develop and feed inside the stalk, eventually killing the leaf. They soon migrate to the main stem, where they will reap complete havoc on the plant, eventually killing it.

World Exclusive…

A Naboo tribesman has been captured on camera, and you will not believe who captured this never before seen tribal member. On a recent visit to the ESPatch,  Ivette Soler… http://thegerminatrix.com/ took this spectacular photograph, a photograph that will go down in the horticultural historical records as the first ever glimpse of this reclusive, sometimes cannibalistic tribe member.

You have to zoom in on this infamous discovery…I could not believe it myself…a warrior peeking out of the amaranth stems, is that a tribal headdress on the right?

You didn’t really think I was making them up did you?

After all of my moaning about my tomatillo plants, getting huge and just sitting there…doing basically nothing.  Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by this scene today!  It seemed like this happened over night, small lanterns were hanging all over the plants, and there were lots of them, all different sizes.

And to think I almost pulled them out. With the now forming tomatillos has come another curious creature that apparently likes to eat them…

…and quite aesthetically apt for this post title.

This is either the larvae of the Three Lined Lema Beetle, or the Three Lined Potato Beetle, it is really hard to tell unless you can find the eggs and so far I haven’t.

Yes folks, you guessed it, these tiny slugs with their swollen bodies and black heads have an annoying habit of piling their own excrement on their backs…they really do. What an extreme defensive measure (involuntary gag reflex).

Note to self: Must never try mimicking this larvae, no matter how threatened I ever feel.

Other exciting news on the vegetable front:

I have a pole bean, I have a pole bean!

And a few egg plants.

And one or two caterpillars!  Annie, they love your sunflower!…I have never seen such a hairy congregation, any guesses as to what they are?  I did try to pick the brain…

of this dragonfly, but he appeared to have already had his brain removed?  Brrr.

My pokeweed fruit has matured to indigo, the stems turning quickly from green to this crazy pink. It appears the birds have already found them.

And Finally…

I have a new resident in one of my water lilies, sporting a sort of full-face, Hitler-esk mustache.  Some unsuspecting insect is in for a bit of a scare, when alighting on this bloom. Oh yes, this image did make it to my “Looks like” page:


Stay Tuned for:

“On the Chain Gang”

All material © 2010 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late  (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

  • Gail July 24, 2010, 8:47 pm

    He’s going to do something really awful to you when he can read!! He will enlist the Naboos and the witches and anyone else he can find to take care of you.

    Even Juju knows!!

    You have that right JuJu!
    I am sure he will…”Dad, why did you put this online?”
    “Well son, I needed to remember it, and it was, well, funny”
    “Dad, it isn’t funny.”
    “Well it was to me son!”
    (not looking at him whilst tapping with arthritic fingers on an ancient laptop).

  • Pam/Digging July 24, 2010, 8:49 pm

    Yes, that waiter will understand one day, won’t he, when he has hobbits of his own. Still, that’s a pretty awesomely disgusting story to lead with, ESP. I’m still wincing and laughing over that one. BTW, if our family’s experience has any relevance for others, the musical chairs dance at restaurants may well continue for your family well into middle school and perhaps beyond. Just saying.

  • ESP July 24, 2010, 9:07 pm

    Hi Pam.

    It was, awesomely disgusting, wasn’t it, I am sure I have now lost at least half of my readers! What was I thinking!

    I am so happy this is a widespread phenomena…the restaurant shuffle that is…too funny. I have even begun to watch other families really closely at the seating moment, just to see their particular “seating” dynamic, and how they deal with it! It makes me feel strangely sane.


  • Jenny July 24, 2010, 9:46 pm

    I don’t think we ever took our children to a restaurant! -just wasn’t something that generation did but I have to tell you that we do something just as bad. We often play musical tables, moving from one to another until we find just the right one. Why do they always like to take you to the worst one first. Age has taught me that i don’t have to go where they want me to go. I will choose the table. Back to gardening- You really do have the most amazing bugs at the patch. Those tomatillo things are really gross and now have me worried for my 2 plants. One finally overcame being a runt and started to fulfill its duty as being pollinator of the other. However, a cantaloupe vine is fast taking over the plant. I think I mastered the svb this year. I only caught one adult but I sure squished hundreds of eggs and the plants finally died from heatstroke rather than the borer.
    Get ready for purple poop all over your patio.
    Glad to hear you are busy on an installation. Just a thought. Are you using mainly native plants for the job because if you are how about my putting your name forward for the Wildflower Center Tour? Would be great advertising!

    Hi Jenny.

    Yes, that trip to the restaurant was quite an experience! Why DO they always put you in the worst table in an empty restaurant? Just as frustrating in an empty restaurant is when there are larger tables available they show you to one of those tiny tables, you know the ones where everybody can reach everything! Not a good idea with a couple of “monkeys” seated at the table…just give us the larger table even though we are not a party of six!!! I am like you, if I spot a better place I always ask…what British reserve?

    Yes some great bugs this past week, just when you think you have seen most species up pop a bunch more. I ended up squishing the excrement back carrying chaps as soon as they slimed their way down and chomped on one of the tomatillo husks…oh no, that was enough. I have to say though, they were particularly disgusting to squish.

    Yes the purple poop is something not to look forward to, I do like that unusual pokeweed plant though, it is quite bizarre.

    Yes, I should be finished with the installation next week, at least the hardscape, planting will begin after the summer heat has subsided. I have 12 yards of granite waiting for me tomorrow! Joy! I have some iced turban in the freezer as I write. I am using natives along with some different bamboos, naturally. I will look into the Wildflower Center Tour, thanks for this Jenny.


  • Bob Pool July 24, 2010, 10:58 pm

    I don’t think those larvae are from the Three Lined Beetles. I think they are actually from the little known Booger Beetle. You can check this out for sure.

    That Dragon fly close up is just unbelievable, and the Poke Weed photo is great.

    By golly, I think that just may be a Naboo hunter there. It looks like he may have spilled his darts from his quiver on the right there.

  • ESP July 25, 2010, 11:48 am

    Hi Bob.

    The Booger Beetle…I have read about this legend in an old gardening book, I believe it was titled: “The Big Book of Bugs & Boogers.” I will dust it off and do some more research on these beetles that are in desperate need of copious amounts of toilet paper.

    The dragonfly head is a real shocker, I could see it throwing it’s eyes back at me as I slowly got close with the camera. I could not have got closer to it without touching it! It didn’t even flinch when I backed away! Naboo paralyzing Dart perhaps?

    Yes, interesting theory, perhaps that is a quiver and darts and not a tribal headdress. I will be sure to forward your hypothesis to the science group that are currently investigating the validity of the picture.


  • Matt in Austin July 25, 2010, 4:46 pm

    The hairy infestation on your sunflower appears to be Bordered Patch larvae. My zexmenia are similarly being overrun by these hairy squirmers.

  • ESP July 25, 2010, 8:40 pm

    It does indeed Matt, I will most definitely allow their chomping then! …A sunflower gnawing I can tolerate.
    Thanks for the ID.


  • Les July 26, 2010, 5:31 am

    I remember what a learning experience it was to take our son out to eat, finding which restaurants were kid friendly and still had good food. There was many a trip where one of the adults spent the lunch or dinner hour walking the restless one up and down the sidewalk. We eventually found that taking a small box of distractions with us was a big help. Fortunately we never had a boogy incident like you, it would have been more than my wife could handle, we can’t even say the word snot in her presence.

  • ESP July 26, 2010, 8:13 pm

    Hi Les.
    We made the decision to integrate our kids into eating out since they were infants and never shied away from taking them anywhere. Now, I must say, they are usually very well behaved (apart from the rare, boogy incident, a first for us) in restaurants. It really was a shocker, but I have never laughed so hard, and continue to, whenever I recollect this rather disgusting “incident”.

  • Germi July 27, 2010, 5:41 am

    I have to say, nothing I have done has ever involved me in such a kerfuffle as the taking of that picture wherein the Naboo warrior was spotted. First, the newspapers … they were easy to handle. But then there were the eerie visitations from the men wearing dark suits in black cars – a little too pale to “blend in”. They took my memory card and ALMOST took my computer, but I got in their face with some spookiness of my own. Who do these “Men In Black” think they are? Apparently, there has been a dearth of extra terrestrial sightings so they have been freelancing now, dealing with incursions of the tiny terrestrial variety. The Naboo are the hot thing on the Fortean Times circuit – I think we may be called upon to do a power point presentation at an upcoming Fortean convention in Mexico City. Should the negotiations start now? If the Naboo find out there is an expose on them without you telling them first, there could be dire consequences…
    Those things on your tomatillos? What utter grossness. How can something that vile exist on so delicate a plant? It is just wrong. Too much. Like a performance artist nobody wants to see – scatology is SO last year! But LOVELY tomatillos – and that yellow eggplant – are you SURE? I can’t wait to hear reports of its flavor and texture – it looks suspiciously like a steroidal zuchinni to me! The leaves DO look eggplanty, though – as do the caps. But in these days of crazy looking vegetables, who can really tell?

    Kudos on all the insect activity – absolutely delightful. Especially the Spider sporting the hitler ‘stache. Is it reincarnation? Would that madman be brought back as a silly -looking garden spider? This could be another incident that the Fortean people could be very very interested in. I’m sure they’ll be in touch!

    The Patch is wonderful, as always! My love to Leah and the Hobbits! Another trip is in the works… how will you EVER get rid of me NOW?

    Hi G.
    Yes the men in black have been paying me quite a lot of visits since the release of the photograph, it has created quite a stir. I have it from the highest Naboo authority that the warrior who was foolish enough to get himself photographed has mysteriously “vanished”…I took this to mean he was yesterdays supper! The screams and ritual carefully orchestrated to coincide with one of our late afternoon thunderstorms we have been having.

    The crap-backs epitomize grossness, and are even worse when squished (insert gag reflex face right about here). The tomatillos have suddenly jumped to life, and I have a bunch of them growing inside their lanterns, it should be a good crop as long as I keep the crap-backs at arms reach…a very good place for them.

    It IS an eggplant, it IS… it is, it is, it is!!!

    How about the spiderstache! I can imagine him screaming and ranting in this lily pad, those Utube videos are ridiculous!

    Will do G, and great you will be back in the neighborhood, we must hook up for a Rita.
    ESPatch on the Prairie.

  • Annie in Austin July 27, 2010, 11:52 am

    Am the oldest of 5 and mother of 4 adults, ESP – and you are giving me flashbacks! Somewhere there is video footage of one of our children mining the nostril of his sister. A friend caught in on camerat and thought it belonged on funniest home videos. But they didn’t come up with such a good line – Vertie’s right… that motto belongs on a T-shirt!!

    No sign of tomatillos here. Since your garden is always ahead I won’t give up hope just yet.

    I’m glad Matt gave you the ID – have pictures of the Bordered Patch butterflies & larvae with my GBBD list ( http://anniesaddendum.blogspot.com/2010/07/gbbd-list-for-july-2010.html) and took a photo of the eggs but my point-and-shoot doesn’t get detail like your wonderful photos! I’ve let seedlings of this sunflower pop up in my garden every year, but this is the first time I’ve seen either the larvae or butterflies. There are now new young generations of caterpillars at work. They haven’t gone after the seedheads so far – but if that happens might be ruthless… main reason I grow the sunflowers is for goldfinches, etc.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  • ESP July 27, 2010, 3:30 pm

    Hi Annie.
    It would make a funny T-shirt, and his comedic timing was impeccable.

    It seems the tomatillos took ages to set peppers, I had no idea they were so slow, then all of a sudden there they were! Yes, I am sure yours are just around the corner.

    The sunflower you gave me has been host to what has to be called an infestation, I have never seen so many caterpillars! It took them only a week to decimate the leaves of the plant, I fear for the flowers.
    Wait until you see it in my next post!

  • Meredith/Great Stems July 29, 2010, 4:50 pm

    ESP, funniest post ever. I’ve been fighting the nausea of a migraine (and the migraine itself) today, and your opening segment–and the tale of the crapbacks–about had me flying to the toilet. Can one laugh and throw up at the same time? I really shouldn’t investigate that thought further.

    My sunflowers were decimated by bordered patch caterpillars over the past few weeks, but it’s satisfying to see the butterflies fluttering about, and now the birds are having a field day with the seeds. It’s all good, though I would have been happy to enjoy the blooms for awhile longer. Alas.

  • ESP July 29, 2010, 8:10 pm

    Hi Meredith.

    I think I can safely say that I am not aware (to my knowledge) of one of my posts ever nearly having such a violent reaction, I apologize for almost sending you swiftly to the toilet! I am sorry you have been feeling off-color, migraines are a particularly nasty and dizzying affair, I hope you are feeling better soon…best not to hit the Patch again until you are fighting fit, though I am confident that I will not be writing about the crapbacks again anytime soon :-)

    My bordered patch caterpillars have moved on from the sunflower, I will be keeping a lookout for the butterflies, yes, it is all good.

    Get well.


  • Meredith/Great Stems August 1, 2010, 6:10 pm

    Thanks, ESP — headaches are gone now. So post your worst! I’m ready!

  • ESP August 1, 2010, 6:45 pm

    Nothing disgusting, well not much :-) in my latest post Meredith…glad you have that behind you.


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