Meet some of my orchard friends!

The other day I was able to photograph a few of my buddies in the orchard. (All pictures taken May 7th)
Do you see anything special here?

Under these leaves a large foam-like egg sack has just released its special forces!

Here’s a better look at our NEW RECRUITS! Adorable!

Here they are! An army of praying mantises, dispersing stealthily into the orchard!

A few minutes after taking the above pictures, I witnessed something else. Hurrah for Mrs Wasp! She just caught a horrid caterpillar off the plum tree and is devouring it with a vengeance! Good job!

Paper wasp: caterpillar patrol expert

I have a special place in my heart for these next beloved allies. I found an Eastern Milk Snake here about four feet long once. They are usually very tame and fun to play with, but while I’m asleep at night they are working to rid me of some of my worst enemies: meadow voles!

Eastern Milk Snakes, hiding safely under a board during the day

Click beetlesSpeaking of fun, this little critter serves for entertainment whenever it is needed. Lay them on their back and they pop themselves up into the air in order to get them selves right side up again. Click beetles or “skipjacks” come in many sizes and colors, but by far the most common around hear are the little brown ones that are easy to find hiding near the tips of shoots. I’m not sure if they do as much practical good as some species do (like the Eyed Elater which dines on harmful pests) but they don’t do any harm either, so we get along just fine. (The damage you see on the shoot tip was done by a leaf-roller caterpillar.)

A "lady bug" tirelessly searching the plum tree for aphidsI must mention the lady bug. They are often hated for infesting houses in the fall, but if you like apples, or anything made from apples, or even wheat for that matter, don’t be too hasty in your condemnation. Aphids are very destructive pests that spread disease and stunt growth of important crops. Ladybird Beetles hunt them down and chew them up with splendid voracity!


There are many other highly beneficial friends that work along with me in the orchard that did not allow me to take their pictures that day. Wonderful birds like the Nuthatches and Brown Creepers, and countless spiders and pollinating insects and soil-dwellers, who do more than I could ever thank them for to keep things in balance. It’s an amazing place to be!

“O LORD, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches.”
Psalm 104:24


  1. Michael May 12, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    By the way, praying mantises love to eat Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs.
    When we moved here it was rare to see a praying mantis egg sack, but we have greatly improved the habitat for them and now I see lots of them every winter. This past winter I noticed 17 just in our little garden and orchard. I’ve also been seeing the BMS bugs around here for a couple years, but not in large numbers.

  2. Sceince Person May 14, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    Thanks for the sceince lesson!!!

  3. James May 15, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    Love it, love it! I can’t believe all those praying mantises. Wow!

  4. Esther Staddon May 15, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Dad, Mom, Mrs. Kowalchuck, Kendalyn, Sauntina and I were amazed at all the company you have in the orchard! I’m glad they are helping! Way to look for the good. 🙂

  5. Daniel Staddon May 20, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    Such a great group to hang out with, Mike. 🙂 Give them all a big thank you for me when you see them next!

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