hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Becoming a Hunter

Mostly, I'm a gatherer, though the daughter of a hunter.  I grew up with hunting rifles and hunting dogs and all that, but although I liked the dogs, I didn't like the hunting.  I don't like hunting slugs, even.  Several years ago, I went out every night in the summer and hunted them in the twilight.  I would find and kill maybe 100-200 each night, my weapon of destruction a pair of scissors.  And after about two weeks of that, I decided to stop growing plants that slugs wanted to eat because I got weary of having killing on my mind and in my eyes.

But now, I find myself back in the game, sort of.  A month ago, my middle child sent me the gift of six carniverous plants.  They're little guys, in 3-inch pots: a venus fly trap, two butterworts, a pitcher plant, and two sundews. (Here's a picture of a sundew.)   All very different, all very committed to eating insects.  Which is okay with me.  Except that, this early in the spring, and in a very cold spring, we are short of insects, especially in the house.  There aren't yet any gnats flying about that might find their way indoors and then into (or onto) the reaching sticky arms of a tiny butterwort plant or an even smaller sundew.  The pitcher plant is too young yet to have any pitchers, even, so I don't know what it's doing for food: photosynthesis, says my son.

But what we, unfortunately, do have this spring is the occasional carpenter ant finding its way into the house.  They are easy to spot on the beige carpet and I'm more than willing to bring an end to their lives.  It occurred to me, however, that I might be able to feed them to the venus fly trap.  The trap plant has maybe a half-dozen actual traps, each about 1/2-3/4 inch long.  That's actually smaller than the carpenter ant.  Already, a problem.

But the larger problem is that the ants are very fast and even if I drop them into the flytrap's open trap, they scamper right out.  Thus, in order to make it possible for the flytrap to have a chance at dinner, I am obliged to lame the ant some.  I am even obliged to hold the lamed ant with a pair of tweezers and drop it into the open trap, holding it there until the trap closes.

I might as well go back to cutting slugs in half.

On the other hand, the plants are pretty interesting.  Just keeping them alive, even without having to hunt for them, is a challenge because they would like it to be warmer than it is.  They probably don't mind it being so damp, though.  It's a new challenge.  I just hope that my oldest child, who used to raise tarantulas, doesn't get it into her mind to send her dear old mom a little gift.  There's simply no way that you could get a venus fly trap to eat a tarantula, even a baby one.  I just don't have the heart for that work, I think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine cutting the slimy critters with scissors. Too messy, too gross. I frequently go on the hunt with my trusty salt shaker. Just sprinkle a bit on them and walk away. Works like a charm.