Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer Flies & My Favourite Weed

August is going out on a cold and dreary note. The dropping temperatures and yellowing leaves remind us that soon the Frost Monster will be slashing at the Home Bug Garden plants and animals. The first to go will be the South American Solanaceae: tomatoes, tomatillos, ground cherries, potatoes, and peppers. Tonight it is supposed to drop to between 5 and 3 C, depending on which Edmonton airport you live closest to (HBG is midway between). And I’m eyeing all those green tomatoes and yellow peppers and wondering how optimistic I should be.
One plant that won’t pay much attention to the Frost Monster will be my favourite weed: the thallus forming liverwort Marchantia polymorpha Linnaeus. Many liverworts look much like the mosses with which they used to be grouped, but marchantia looks more like a lurid green lichen with tentacles (females) or parasols (males) than your typical bryophyte. It does well on wet soil and may annoy greenhouse owners and some gardeners.
I suppose if I were trying to grow ferns but all I ended up with was more marchantia, then I might be annoyed too. As it is, I chop it up when it is in the way and try to appreciate it when it is growing in some more appropriate space, like around the base of the bird bath.
 Some people think that flies are pesky too, but other than ineffectively swatting at an importune muscid or calliphorid we try to get along with the higher Diptera.
Flies will likely be the first active insects next spring, so I think I’ll say goodbye to summer by revisiting some of the smaller and more interesting flies of the year.

 And lets not forget the bugs that will soon be memories too.


  1. I'm not ready for autumn yet!

    But you are right...apples are starting to drop, green ash ain't green, and many of the remaining bumblebees and dragonflies are beginning to look ragged. Summer is Fall-ing.

    Love the eyes on that long-legged fly!

  2. The gemma-bearing thallus of Marchantia looks like one of those squeezy dolls whose eyes pop out (e.g., And let's not forget that this year, samples of the Marchantia beneath the bird bath have provided a new genus of macrochelid mites for Alberta, and a proturan of unknown identity.

    HCP, a.k.a. Mrs. Homebuggarden