Spring brings small things on the wing, and some are real pests

Another winter has gone from Loon Lake, which means insects and birds are coming back.

The Cabbage White butterfly is a pest in the garden.

The Cabbage White butterfly is a pest in the garden.

Another winter gone

March brought many changes to the landscape here, as winter was put away for another season. The sun and warm temperatures have done away with most bits of snow and ice, even in the deepest shady areas. It is time once again to switch the snow shovel out with the lawn mower and rake.

The native junipers have taken on a brighter green hue, and the green of small grasses and plants is starting to break through the beige and brown of last year’s growth. Even though the winter was a mild one, the strong winds have brought down a lot of branches and bits from the trees, as well as the occasional tree. If you were lucky the trees missed your power line and buildings.

Most residents are busy raking and removing the winter debris, while a few have had to do some larger repairs from tree damage. As the winter migrants return to Loon Lake it’s hoped they will all find their homes and outbuildings in good condition.

Ice has gone off the lake, and the migrating water birds are starting to stop by on their way to their summer nesting grounds. Some of the geese and mallards will likely also stay here and raise their young on the lake.

Insects make their return

The warm winter was good for insects, it appears. The air is full of small things on the wing, as well as butterflies newly emerged from hibernation. The usual one I see first is the Mourning Cloak, but this year it was a white one. That pretty white butterfly with two dots on each wing is a harbinger of trouble in the garden: it’s the Cabbage White, and already it is looking for places to lay eggs that will turn into those hungry green caterpillars munching away on cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower. It seems that we can’t get a head start on them, and of course they are not native; they were imported in a commercial shipment of brassicas many years ago.

I enjoyed watching the bumblebees rolling themselves in the pollen of the crocus flowers. Not so pleasant are the flies that are already making their way into the house, meaning another hurried chore of washing and putting up screens. The spruce beetle is creating problems in forests in the north, and I do hope that we do not have our spruce trees here all turning brown and dying. The stands of pines are recovering nicely from the pine beetle infestation, although the deadfalls will remain a problem for a long time yet.

Eagle numbers are down

The seasonal crew of creek watchers has returned, but there are not as many on the watch as 10 years ago. Then one could stand on my deck and count up to 20 eagles sitting in trees overlooking the creek; today there are between six and eight to be seen at most times, with fewer immature ones in the group. While many of the smaller migrating birds have now moved on and there isn’t as much bird song in the forest, the eagles and their talking do make up for it, although their noise will never rate as “singing”.

Free drop off at Transfer Station

As winter clean up is underway, residents are happy to find that the transfer station is now on summer hours again. The restricted winter hours made it very difficult for some to access it, so the improved accessibility is welcomed. Yard rakings and branches can be taken to the station, but trees and larger timber cannot. The suggestions in the Fire Smart campaign are good rules for residents of Loon Lake Road to reduce the fuel available in the case of a wildfire, and an annual spring clean-up of dead stuff on the ground and trimming of branches is highly recommended.

For those who have some household items that you would usually have to pay a fee to drop off, there will be a free dump day at the transfer station on Saturday, April 16. On that day one can drop off cooling devices, mattresses, or old furniture and have fees up to $20 waived. It will be busy, so if you have just ordinary transfer station stuff it might be wise to leave that trip until another day.