I stomped the seed heads together with my boot as they were dumped into the sacks, so each sack is tightly packed. This collection was made from an eight acre area of old crop fields that represents the extent of Teasel infestation at Blue Jay Barrens. Time spent collecting was just over 16 hours spread over five days.
Even though I know that
Teasel still persists in the field, I’m not constantly reminded of the fact by
the sight of Teasel seed heads standing tall above the other plants. I learned long ago that work in areas that I
see most often should be placed as top priority.
I must have been standing on
one of their foraging trails, because it only took a few seconds for a dozen or
more ants to crawl up inside my pants leg.
Allegheny Mound Ants have powerful jaws that can slice into the flesh,
but it takes time for them to accomplish that feat. To make their initial attack more effective,
the ants curl their bodies and apply a bit of formic acid to the wound they are
making. The acid isn’t felt on bare
skin, but causes a quick burn to even a minor cut. I’m sure my little bout of stomping,
scratching and pants slapping would have amused even the most somber audience.
The trouble is finding short growing Teasel
hidden by the taller vegetation. I
collected many seed heads from plants that were not much taller than 12
inches. I’m sure many of these short
plants were missed and their seeds will likely reach maturity. While working, I had visions of a future
where my fields were infested with dwarf Teasel, descendents of the short
Teasel that avoided my annual collection.
After weighing a random sample, I
estimated there to be 108 seed heads per pound.
That means a total collection of 10,530 seed heads. At an average 3.5 seed heads per plant, the
total Teasel population was just over 3,000 plants.
My seed head collection efforts resulted in
more than 7.6 million seeds that have been denied the opportunity to produce
new plants at Blue Jay Barrens.
Many flying insects were
grounded as they awaited their wings and bodies to dry enough for flight. This makes it easy for a photographer to
approach these normally wary creatures.
The dew has this little fellow looking a bit
ragged. I must admit that I looked in
much worse shape than the skipper. The
temperature was near 90 degrees, the air was perfectly still and the humidity
level had to be over 80 percent. The
combination of dew and sweat had managed to get me completely soaked and I had
Indian Grass anthers stuck all over my face and arms. Fortunately, I always keep the camera pointed
away from myself.
on Butterfly Weed where they concentrated on devouring the flowers.
I’m sure I’ll see a
reduction in the number of Teasel plants before that time, but I’ll have to be
vigilant in my seed head removal efforts for several more years before I can
feel confident that any sections of the field have been rendered teasel free.
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