by Bob Ciminel
August 14, 2004
According to the Bible, God banished Adam and Eve because Eve ate the "forbidden fruit." Many of us grew up with the perception that the "forbidden fruit" was an apple. Personally, I have never believed that God threw A & E out of the Garden simply because Eve ate an apple. No, I believe that God was the first environmentalist and he permanently revoked Adam & Eve's pass to the Garden of Eden because Eve threw the apple core on the ground instead of placing it in a nearby trash container. But the real irony of the story is: the apple core was biodegradable.
About 10 years ago, we decided to turn our backyard into a wildlife refuge. I recognized immediately that we had a real challenge. We lived in one of the most heavily populated suburbs of Atlanta and we had a dog and three cats. The dog wouldn't hurt a flea, and the cats had no front claws. The ethics of removing a cat's front claws will be the subject of a future article. We felt that mix, although not perfect, was fairly benign and critter-friendly.
The Monarch butterfly is pictured in the top left corner...
So, by adding bird and squirrel feeders, plus a lot of cover, thanks to our neighbor planting a row of holly trees between our yards, we've been able to attract a growing population of squirrels, chipmunks, cardinals, nuthatches, woodpeckers, thrashers, towhees, and the usual assortment of "trashy critters," like sparrows, crows, cowbirds, blue jays, and dove. The squirrel feeder, which uses compresses corn, also attracts rats, but "Max the Cat" has turned that into a relatively minor problem. It's not unusual to go out in the morning and find an entire family of rats, mother, father, and three or four children, perfectly spaced in a row on the patio. Who said cats are a waste of fur?
This year, I embarked on a project to attract Monarch butterflies by planting things butterflies like to eat and lay eggs on. We put in butterfly weed, fennel, lantana, and parsley, and waited patiently for the butterflies to come. We waited throughout May, June, and July, but Nada, no butterflies. While I was up in Chattanooga last week, my wife found a large, beautiful Monarch butterfly in the garden. She even took a picture of it, just before the kitten attacked.
Maybe the Monarchs will come
back. I hope they will. I promise we'll keep the kitten inside.
We've even put up a sign in the butterfly garden: "Welcome.
Please alight and enjoy a quick meal. No waiting. Enjoy casual,
cat-free dining under the pine trees."