Blooms and bugs as spring unfolds

The cherry blossoms beginning to open on our ornamental cherry in the backyard.

Hooray for SPRING!

Saturday’s Spring Equinox came in with a cool blast of air, but everything is beginning to come alive around us, and this week I saw my first beetle of the season, just as the cherries and pears begin to bloom.

Two-lined leather-wing beetle (Atalantycha bilineata)

This guy – the two-lined leather-wing beetle (a type of soldier beetle, named for their color resemblance to the British Redcoats) – showed up yesterday on my overwintering cover crop of red clover. Intrigued by his arrival and its remarkable likeness to a firefly, I did a little research on this colorful bug. They tend to overwinter in rotting logs, which we have plenty of in our woods. They are one of the first species to appear in spring (check!). Their black wing covers (elytra) are soft and flexible unlike most beetles which have hard wing covers, hence their name leather-wing. It eats insects and is a great pollinator, so a good garden friend. They have a chemical defense which they use when threatened. They have glands near their rear-end which secrete cantharidin, a substance that can cause blisters. Good thing I didn’t mess with him!

The red clover is healthy and happy – I’m waiting for it to flower (so I can use it in teas) before turning it under.

On Saturday, the morning of the Spring Equinox, we sat on our meadow bench sipping hot tea in 35-degree weather, watching the sun rise. Filled with gratitude for this special place, we sat in silence and awe, wondering at the unfolding world of spring all around us. As hard as the past couple of months have been for our family, we know there are always those who suffer more and need more support, and we count our blessings for the gifts we have, especially the gifts of nature that surround us and lift us up every single day.

Spring equinox sunrise from our meadow bench.

The woods are filled with woodpeckers drumming, pine warblers, nuthatches, and chickadees singing, sprouting lizard’s tail and trout lilies, budding sweet gums and buckeyes and callery pears and redbuds. The yard is awakening with surprise after surprise – new shoots from old roots, blueberries and chokeberries budding out, young peas shooting up toward their twine-lined trellis. Life is everywhere, and we are lucky and grateful for all of it.

Chokeberry budding out
First columbine bloom about to open

I hope your spring is just as joyful and filled with wonder. Life is short and unpredictable – as we are reminded of each day now – so find your joy and revel in your wonder in every minute of your day.

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