Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I just spent Memorial Day weekend raking the leaves that are falling from the large maple tree in my backyard. It's a green blizzard out there! You may wonder, as anyone would, why the leaves are falling in Spring instead of Fall (actually, they also fall in Fall, so I get to rake twice a year). Is the tree sick, or dying? I wondered the same thing myself when it first started happening a few years ago. I searched the leaves for any sign of disease, but there was nothing--the leaf-stems were just neatly cut. Spotting a few aphids, I had the tree sprayed...but the leaves still fell. Finally I went on the Internet and found the cause: a wily creature called a petiole borer. This is a species of wasp that plants its eggs in the leaf-stems (or "petioles") of maple trees, so that the larvae chew through the stem. The leaves drop first, then later the grubs, which burrow under the soil and emerge the following Spring as tiny wasps. The Circle of Life! Apparently this seasonal infestation is not all that harmful to the tree, which grows back most of its leaves over the summer. Lucky me, because there seems to be little in the way of pest control--like Steven Segal, petiole borers are hard to kill.

And while I'm boring you with my petty gripes, why is it I don't have any friends who like to fish? I like to fish. As a kid growing up in California I spent my summers fishing almost every day, digging my own bait or buying live anchovies on the Belmont Pier, but somehow I never made any friends who were equally into fishing--I couldn't even get my own son into it! It's a cruel sport, they say, and I have to admit it is an awful thing to do to a living creature (yet no more horrible than the fate of all our meat). So I rarely fish anymore, or if I do I fish alone.


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