31 July 2007

Signs of High Summer

Viceroy butterflyWe've been seeing lots of Monarch butterflies in the garden - but they never stay still long enough for me to take a picture of them. Those are the ones with an amazing migration journey to Mexico and back every year. The picture is of a smaller butterfly which mimics the Monarch almost perfectly in its colouring but, unlike the Monarch, consented to sit still for a few seconds so that I could take its picture. It's called a Viceroy.

The other insect we've been hearing but haven't yet spotted is called a Dog-Day Cicada or Harvest Fly. The male's song is an incredibly loud and fairly high-pitched shrill buzz which sounds like it's coming from a power cable or electricity sub-station. Apparently they live under ground for 2-3 years and then emerge to mate before dying off. They're not the same as the ones that all emerge at the same time every 17 years, so these ones can be heard every summer.

Thistledown and tree-root fenceWe're running low on water again, although today we're having the new water cleaning system installed, so at least the water we have will be clearer and less stinky than it was before. Then we'll have to improve the actual supply - perhaps by drilling down a bit further in the existing well. Our neighbours told us that their well is 35 feet deep, so perhaps we should try and aim for something similar. It's a bit frustrating when you can see the lake in front of the house, there are frogs gambolling about in our pond a couple of hundred metres behind the house and we yet have to ration water use indoors. I keeping thinking about Jean de Florette, but trust that our water situation never gets quite as bad as his did. In the short term we will just have to hope for some decent rain in the next week or two.

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