This Is Why We Should All Love Bats

Reblogged from http://www.buzzfeed.com

Give them a chance, you guys. They just want to eat all the bugs and pollinate tequila plants.posted on October 23, 2013 at 1:13am EDT

Sara Bee

COMMUNITY MEMBER

Look at this bat. That’s a nice bat.

Look at this bat. That's a nice bat.

Nobody really likes these guys, though.

Nobody really likes these guys, though.

(Sorry, bat friends.)

Because people think bats are terrifying little sharp-toothed bundles of flying hate.

Because people think bats are terrifying little sharp-toothed bundles of flying hate.

And rabies.

But here’s the thing.

But here's the thing.

BATS ARE ADORABLE.

BATS ARE ADORABLE.

THEY JUST WANT TO BE LOVED.

THEY JUST WANT TO BE LOVED.

And give love in return.

And give love in return.

Poor, misunderstood bats. See this one?! It’s like a little hamster with wings! Oh my god!

Poor, misunderstood bats. See this one?! It's like a little hamster with wings! Oh my god!

And they’re big fans of watermelon!

And they're big fans of watermelon!

But wait. There’s more.

But wait. There's more.

Doesn’t this strangely kind of resemble…

Doesn't this strangely kind of resemble...

THIS?!?

THIS?!?

Answer: pretty much.

Answer: pretty much.

And not only are they the cutest. Oh, no. Bats are wonderfully useful creatures to have around.

And not only are they the cutest. Oh, no. Bats are wonderfully useful creatures to have around.

Someday, this guy will be able to eat 600 mosquitoes in an hour. This is a mosquito-killing MACHINE.

Someday, this guy will be able to eat 600 mosquitoes in an hour. This is a mosquito-killing MACHINE.

Say these people here.

(Don’t pretend like mosquitoes aren’t the worst.)

This Is Why We Should All Love Bats

And if it weren’t for bats, we might have fewer bananas, mangoes, almonds, peaches…

This Is Why We Should All Love Bats

and TEQUILA.

and TEQUILA.

These people say that bats pollinate a bunch of different plants and/or spread their seeds. Seed production of the agave plants used to make tequila drops to 1/3000th of normal without bats to pollinate them.

I mean, don’t get me wrong.

This Is Why We Should All Love Bats

THEY ARE THE NIGHT.

THEY ARE THE NIGHT.

But also friends.

This Is Why We Should All Love Bats

Squeaky-clean friends.

Squeaky-clean friends.

(Apparently, bats groom themselves like cats.)

Which makes it sort of less awful if one of them beelines it for your hair.

Which makes it sort of less awful if one of them beelines it for your hair.

The end.

This Is Why We Should All Love Bats

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – May 15, 2013

Foxglove, Hosta, and Clematis are the stars of my garden in May!

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  • Clematis (asurreygarden.wordpress.com)

Trees For Bees – The Linden Tree

linden 1

Linden trees, also known as bee trees and basswood trees (and as lime trees in Europe), are large trees that grow in four-season climates all over the world. These trees can reach 80 feet in height and have a 40-foot spread.

The trees bloom in June and July and their yellow flowers are highly aromatic. They are extremely popular with honey bees (leading to the colloquial name of “bee-tree”), and you can buy basswood honey made almost exclusively from these trees.  Linden trees have the reputation of producing some of the best honey in the world. It has been described as “delicate and mild, and has warm herbal notes and a clean finish.”

Linden trees grow in plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. The coldest temperatures in zone 3 can reach 40 below zero and 12 below zero in zone 8. Besides temperature, soil conditions influence the success of linden trees. They like finer soils that drain well but hold enough water to support the tree.

Linden trees

Linden trees are successful when planted wherever there is excellent to good farming soils. They prefer slightly acidic soil but will tolerate pH levels as high as 7.5. Linden trees do not withstand drought for prolonged periods and are not found in the western states of the US.

The leaves are large measuring anywhere from 3″ to 6″ in both length and width. The linden tree provides much of its own food since the leaves do not lose their mineral content as they decay. Linden tree leaves are high in calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, and potassium.

Covering Old Ground

Not that anyone has asked me, but I thought I would weigh in on my personal choices of ground cover/underplanting.

I am a traditionalist.  I like four plants for covering those awkward spaces under roses, hydrangea and other flowering shrubs.

My number one choice is Nepeta, specifically Walkers’ Low.  I love this plant. It is hearty, beautiful, fragrant and voluminous.  Its only downside is that if you have cats, they like to nap right in the middle of them. It’s also known as catmint.

Nepeta Walkers Low and Pink Roses

My second choice is hosta.  There are so many smaller cultivars these days, and they are  mostly all fabulous.

Hosta Underplanting

My third choice is stachys, or lambs ears.  They add texture and a beautiful grey color that blends with everything.

Lambs Ears Underplanting

My fourth choice is lavender.  It’s a bit hard to get started, but once it gets going, it is just about perfect.

Lavender and Boxwood

And they are all great bee plants!

What’s Blooming In The Garden On July 28

There’s still plenty of nectar for the bees. I can’t wait for my dahlias to start blooming en masse!

Lightning Bugs

It’s Lightning Bug season here in southern Ohio. They are some of my favorite insects!

They’re not bees, by any means.  But they certainly are entertaining!

Flashing Lightning Bugs are trying to attract mates. Among most but not all species of North American Lightning Bugs, males fly about flashing while females perch on vegetation, usually near the ground. If the female sees a flasher and she’s ready to mate she responds by flashing right after the male’s last flash. A short flash dialogue takes place as the male flies closer and closer, and then, if all goes well, they mate.

So that a flasher doesn’t attract a firefly of a different species, each Lightning Bug species has its own special flash pattern. Flash patterns range from continuous glows or single flashes, to series of multi-pulsed flashes.

Among some species both males and females flash, but among others only the members of one sex do it. Some Lightning Bug species don’t flash at all. All known firefly larvae, which are wingless and mostly live on the ground and under bark, produce light. If you see only a glow on the ground, it can be tricky deciding whether you’re seeing a firefly larva, a glow-worm, or some other luminescent insect.

WHAT DO LIGHTNING BUGS EAT?

Lightning Bug larvae live on the ground, under bark, and in moist swampy places. They eat earthworms, snails and slugs, plus they may scavenge certain small dead animals and other organic material . They have been seen following slime trails to their slug and snail victims. Lightning Bug larvae have sickle-shaped mandibles with which they can inject a kind of chemical that paralyzes their prey and helps digest it. Several larvae have been seen attacking large prey together.

Adult Lightning Bugs, who can live for several months, probably feed on plant nectar. A few adult Lightning Bug species practice an especially tricky kind of cannibalism. Already-mated females emit flashes similar to the female responses to male Lightning Bugs of other species. When the male of the other species lands, the female emitting the false flashes pounces on the poor male and eats him!

CLASSIFICATION

Lightning Bugs are the same as Fireflies. They are members of a particular family of the Beetle Order. The Firefly Family is technically known as the Lampyridae.

The Nitrogen Cycle

All Life depends upon the chemical element nitrogen.

An atom of nitrogen lies at the heart of all amino acids, which are not only the building blocks of protein of which muscles and many other of the body’s parts are made, but also the basic constituent of DNA, which carries the genetic code for all living things.

Nitrogen atoms are also present in the molecules which enable energy transfer during photosynthesis. Without nitrogen, life as we know it would not exist.

Though about 78% of the Earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen, plants and animals don’t necessarily have an easy time getting all the nitrogen they need. Green plants can’t use the nitrogen that’s free in the atmosphere. Nitrogen must be “fixed” before it is usable by most living things.

NITROGEN FIXATION

The process of chemically altering unusable, free atmospheric nitrogen into a form usable by organisms is referred to as nitrogen fixation. In nature, there are two main ways of “fixing” nitrogen:

FIRST WAY: Lightning. If you’ve ever been close to a lightning flash and right afterwards smelled an ammonia-like odor, that was lightning-fixed nitrogen you smelled. Only a relatively small percentage of nitrogen gets fixed in this way, however. Nature’s main nitrogen fixers are…

SECOND WAY: Special microorganisms living mostly in soil and water.

Nitrogen-fixing microorganisms, existing abundantly but practically invisibly nearly everywhere, include a few forms of bacteria, the blue-green algae, and some fungi. Some nitrogen-fixing bacteria live in nodules, or small, bag-like growths on the roots of certain plants, especially members of the Bean Family.

NITROGEN-FIXING NODULES ON BACKYARD CLOVER

In many backyards, nodules can be seen on the fine, wiry roots of clover, a member of the Bean Family, and considered a weed by those who don’t know its importance.

The image below is a much-magnified section of the roots of the clover in the above photo. The brown, baglike things hanging on the larger roots are nitrogen-fixing nodules.

USABLE NITROGEN, STEP BY STEP

Typically, nitrogen-fixing microorganisms do not fix free atmospheric nitrogen to a usable form in one step. Usually one set of organisms converts free nitrogen(N2) to ammonia (NH3). This ammonia is accompanied by its ammonium ion (NH4+), which some plants can use. However, most flowering plants need nitrogen in yet another form, which microorganisms provide by converting the ammonia to usable nitrate (NO3-).

Already you see that various organisms must work together to accomplish this profoundly important job. However, it’s even more complex than what’s described above! The process of converting ammonia to nitrate, callednitrification, is usually accomplished by two different sets of bacteria working one after the other.

POINT TO PONDER

The point of all this is not to convince you that nitrogen is wonderful stuff, although it is. The point is that nature is composed of a huge number of interrelated parts, and nitrogen with all of its jobs is just one tiny, usually ignored part.

When we dump toxic chemicals (insecticides and oil pollution,for instance) into the Earth’s air, water, and soil, we are upsetting vital life-enabling processes by killing organisms that are profoundly important to the continuance of Life on Earth.