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The Last Rocket Standing

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Some of the wild mustards are known as rockets, for the speed with which they shoot up and bloom in the springtime. Some of them, particularly the yellow rocket, are horrid, invasive pests--this species is from Europe. You'll see it blanketing bottomland fields in a cloak of brilliant yellow. Blaaa. Pretty but bad, bad, bad. Bill and I have been pulling yellow rocket since it first showed up on our farm three years ago. It's an annual, and it has the grace, like the dreaded and horrific invasive garlic mustard, to pull up cleanly by the roots. That's about the only thing I like about either plant.So I'm walking along the driveway, coming back from taking the mail out, pulling mustards from the ditch, planning to take them to my fire circle to burn (the only safe disposal for those darned seed-bearing siliques). There's a new word for you, quite a pretty one--a silique is the slender seed capsule of the Cruciferae. And I come to the last rocket standing, and this pearl crescent butterfly flutters up and nectars on its uplifted, tubular yellow flowers, and I hesitate and watch. The butterfly flies off and finds a mate and they hook up right there in front of my eyes, fueled by rocket sauce, presumably.Rocket, rocket, all of my rocket sauce.

Voyeuristic butterfly photo captured, I turn back to the rocket. Now I'm gonna pull it. I really am. And from underneath a leaf, midsection, pops the cutest little jumping spider I have ever seen, even cuter than Boris, the black Phidippus who used to live on my studio windowsill and leap on mealworms that I'd toss to him. Jumping spiders are my favorite spiders, thanks to their fabulous faces and endearing ways. They watch you, just like mantids, and they're very curious and , being territorial, they can be revisited again and again. I'm always delighted to get to know an individual, be it bird or spider.
Oh, let me see you a little closer.
Cute doesn't do it. You are adorable, with your RocketMan hair and your bright black eyes.
Woodsman, spare that tree! It was a microcosm of the death of my beloved Privacy Tree, with me the jumping spider, looking at the logger as his chainsaw snarled into its yard-wide trunk. The spider kept ducking under a leaf, then popping back out to see if I was gone yet.

I left the mustard standing.

The next day, I went back and carefully checked for RocketMan. He had vacated. I pulled the plant and tossed it on the fire with the others. I'm a softie, but I still hate yellow rocket.

Just as much as I love Eastern Tailed Blues. This is the best blue butterfly picture I've captured. You can even see his tiny tails. The 70-300 mm. zoom telephoto makes a darn good butterfly lens.A little flake of sky, fallen to earth.


Oh I love that little spider! I had one rather large one (Larry) spin a web over my little window over the sink. At night I'd turn on my sink light to help attract moths for the little guy.

You do have a kind and gentle heart for all that lives (except for rocket!) And, I might be mistaken but don't those across the pond call arugula "rocket"? I thought I remember hearing that from the Naked Chef shows.

I need to clarify that the spider's web was on the OUTSIDE of my window. Didn't want folks to think I had spiders spinning and moths flying around my kitchen.

Who knew that a spider could have so much personality!
(Even so, arachnids will NEVER be my thing, but I do love praying mantises).

Little did I know I could feel for a spider. Love that little Rocketman.

I love Eastern Tailed Blues too--enough to have one tattooed behind my left ear!

Now that's lovin' a bug, Ruthie!
You must show me your tat in NoDak!

Egad,I'm imagining what I'd look like if I tattooed everything I love somewhere on me. I'd be a bestiary of tattoos, a horticultural and vertebrate museum unto myself, with a big googly-eyed Boston terrier over my heart.

Julie- Very nice insect pictures, these all are bird food, right? :)


There's been an awful lot of sex in this blog lately, Julie.
I'm not sure I approve.

Question: Would a good, hot compost heap kill the seeds on garlic mustard? I pulled a blue million plants but wasn't sure if composting would be a good idea.

Hi Susan!

Have enjoyed your Erie posts. I think throwing garlic mustard on a compost heap would be like throwing B'rer Rabbit in the briar patch. Don't know what the zoning regs are where you are, but I lay the pile on the fire circle for a few sunny days. Then I get a good hot fire going with paper and cardboard boxes and burn mustards (and seedheads of Miscanthus grasses.) Then I drive a stake through their hearts.

BTW garlic mustard is showing up all over Washington County, and every year I ferociously pull the plants that come up on our place--around the compost heap.

Dear Christine,

Arugula is a mustard, and I'm growing it right now. That's cool to hear it's called "rocket," but it isn't invasive. I fight the flea beetles for every leaf of my arugula, it is so yummy. Wish they'd poke yellow rocket full of holes.

I see fields and fields of the yellow rocket and wondered what it was. Too bad so many invasives are pretty and left alone. Love the butterfly lovers! The spider...err.... he's.... cute?

I don't think I've ever met a jumping spider in person. Such a cute little "face"! It seems to follow the trend that human beings are attracted to things with big, dark eyes (Pandas, baby seals) because it triggers our parental instinct.


Love, love, love that little spider! I would have had a hard time asking him to move too.

Just think how many unwelcome bugs you would have in your house with our arachnids standing gaurd.

Super bfly photo Julie.

You notice the best things. That little jumping spider is cute and I never thought I'd call a spider cute... Rocket Man. Perfect :o)

And now, maybe for the first time, we've all seen butterfly sex. Only here...

What fun it would be to see that googly-eyed Boston tattoo!

That is one cute little spider, rivalled only by the two cute little eaglets you can view here
if you're lucky and they're not being sat on by a parent. Sorry to go off topic but I figure lots of folks might like to see this! When I watched it a few minutes ago, the eagle was feeding the little ones but now seems to be sitting on them. The nest is in Delta, BC, near the ferry terminal. I saw an eagle there a couple weeks ago -- who knows; maybe it was the same one!

Hey, that stuff makes a great meal, if you pick it early enough. We used to have a good bit around here, but it's almost gone. So think of me when you burn this very tasty plant.

Posted by Granny Sue May 22, 2008 at 7:01 PM

Still laughing after this post and comments. I love the fact that you unapologetically discuss critters and birds and bugs and bees 'getting it on' and dropping 'frass'. I had to look that one up by the way. Maybe your next book could be a collection of SEOhio-isms? I'm still not sure who the commas and question marks are. But, I love the fact that your pet spider was named Boris. Is there really any other name for a pet spider? I hope he didn't meet a sticky end. Thanks for the chuckles!

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