Field of Science

Rodents break probation - herbivore enforcement returns

For purposes of last week's garden tours, our most obtrusive plant cages were removed and hidden away.  The less obtrusive cages remained in place.  All the activity, the patio construction and the hundreds of visitors annoyed the resident woodchuck enough that they moved to green pastures.  The bun-buns and tree rats just stayed out of sight.  But presently the Phactors are feeling rather gullible because just because the tree rats and bun-buns didn't chew anything up for a few days, you right away fall into a complacency that is remarkably stupid.  Of course at times it matters not.  The dill remained fenced to protect all the seedlings, but they are gone, victims of a very small hungry bun-bun, one small enough to fit through the fence openings.  Next year we are upgrading our defensive perimeter with a critter border fence (did you get that NSA?) that has much smaller openings.  Among the bed of bellflowers the woodchuck neatly cropped, a new species (name somewhere in the records) re-appeared much to our surprise having narrowly survived a not only herbivory but a reduction in the bed size.  So now the exclusion cages are being repositioned.  It still raises a question about why a tropical bonsai bougainvillea was so attractive?  Perhaps a tree-rat keeps a life list of bark chewed off limbs.  Still our list of bun-bun favorites is showing its accuracy.  So the probationary period is over.  The rodents broke probation as we cynically knew they would, so it's back to caged plants as usual.  Things were going so well there for a few days.  Sigh.

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