Are You Too Clean for Mother Nature?

Posted by @Cat on
Late July and early August are a great time of the year here in Indiana. Summer is in full swing, the State Fair is just getting ready to begin, and barbecues are roaring!

The downside is that it's usually hot as Hades and some of the plants are starting to look -- well, not so good. Most of the flowers have finished blooming and a few are just worn out by the constant heat. Most of us prefer our flower beds, garden areas, and water gardens to be nice and tidy. I'll admit mine could be a little more so....

I hate it when the pond plants and lily leaves start to turn yellow and rot. I usually drive myself crazy trying to remove all of them, but are we really doing Mother Nature such a big favor with our cleaning? I never really gave it much thought until just the other day. I was out walking around my pond area, looking at the seed pods on some lilies and daylilies. Once again, there were all of those yellow, dying leaves in the pond. That stuff rots and becomes muck in the bottom. Gross!

I walked over and started pulling out the dead and rotting leaves, laying them in a pile to throw in the compost bin later. When I turned back around to grab some more to pull, something on one leaf caught my eye. I looked again and there it was: a dragonfly larva! I am not sure whether you can tell from the pictures, but it was a pretty good size: about 1 1/2" to 2" long.

Thumb of 2014-07-30/Cat/975679 Thumb of 2014-07-30/Cat/cdee51

I was lucky enough to get a picture of this dragonfly that visited my pond earlier this summer.
Thumb of 2014-07-30/Cat/f9b6d1(I believe it is a Green Darner Dragonfly)
It is the biggest dragonfly I have ever seen, and certainly the biggest one I have photographed.

The larva was pretty big. It may even be one of the Green Darners. I did a little research and found out that they pass through a number of developmental stages, often over a relatively long period, before emerging from the water and molting into the adult form. I almost threw it away! I was horrified to think I had almost killed one that had made it this far in its development. More importantly I am very excited to know that dragonflies are laying eggs, and they are developing right here in my garden pond!

A couple of days later, I found the shed (larval) skin floating in the pond water.
Thumb of 2014-08-01/Cat/28595e
I know there are a lot of small insects, mammals, and birds that use dying plant material and leaves to live, hide, or hunt in. I guess I'll just have to control that urge to get rid of every rotting leaf and flower. After all, I don't want to be Too Clean for Mother Nature. ;)

Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Our relationship to Mother Nature by hazelnut Nov 16, 2014 9:23 AM 16
Nope by dirtdorphins Nov 13, 2014 8:22 AM 8
Larva hard to spot by orchidgal Nov 11, 2014 3:48 PM 1
Very nice! by crittergarden Nov 11, 2014 3:46 PM 6
dragonfly larvae by janwax Nov 11, 2014 3:43 PM 1

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