Journal archives for May 2018

May 07, 2018

The Naturalist versus the Weed Whacker, part 1, West Indies

I am currently on the small island of Nevis, St. Kitts and Nevis, Leeward Islands, West Indies. My husband and I have been coming here on annual visits for 21 years, this time for four weeks.

The island used to have a severe litter problem along the main road, but, over the years that has been almost entirely eliminated, which is really great. However, this year the verges of the main island road (and some other pieces of public land) look almost uncannily neat and tidy, and that is in large part due to deployment of numerous Weed Whackers, which is more or less a new technique here.

I suppose I should be celebrating this neatness, but I love weeds. I find them very interesting in themselves, not to mention the surprisingly rich range of other wildlife that lives in and among the plants that flourish in open areas which are not completely overgrown, but are nonetheless somewhat neglected -- benign neglect.

The rental house we are staying in has a yard, quite a small yard, that surrounds the house. I spent the first week or two photographing every organism I could find in the yard. That was because I was in a medical CAM boot, and was not allowed to walk around more than a few feet. I did surprisingly well with what I found. There are very few garden plants in the yard, but the weeds were doing well, and many of the smaller weeds were flowering. These supported quite a range of bugs, including providing nectar for at least four species of butterflies.

But then, at the end of those two weeks, the gardener came and weed-whacked everything right down to the ground. Where did all the nice bugs go? Goodbye to the several different species of butterflies that used to cruise the yard and settle on some of the Tridax Daisies.

Alas, alack, the weed whackers. Does the trimming have to be so complete and ruthless?

Posted on May 07, 2018 12:45 AM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 8 comments | Leave a comment