BONNIE’S GARDEN – 12 Interesting and Fun Gardening Facts I’ve Learned
I’ve enjoyed writing blogs for The Great Big Greenhouse for the past few years. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is learning new and interesting facts. I thought I’d share with you 12 of the most fun and interesting things I’ve learned so far:
- There are several species of fireflies native to Virginia. Most belong to the genus Photinus or the genus Photuris. Some females of the genus Photuris mimic the blinking pattern of the females of another species. When the males of that species show up, she eats them!
- According to the Virginia Poison Center, less than 15 people have died from snake bites here in the last 30 years. Maybe we shouldn’t sweat the occasional snake in the yard, then. Let them eat all the rodents they want!
- The largest bat in the world is the Flying Fox, native to the South Pacific. It has a wingspan of 5 to 6 feet across!
- Speaking of bats, bats are NOT blind. It’s just that their hearing is so extraordinary they can locate an object as thin as a human hair by a process called echolocation. This is why they never really get caught in human hair. By the way, a single bat can eat up to a thousand insects in one night.
- The word “mistletoe” comes from the Saxon word “Mistal” meaning dung and the word “tan” meaning twig. So mistletoe means “dung on a twig.”
- In the late 1800s, California citrus growers were inundated with an insect pest called cottony cushion scale. They imported ladybugs who got rid of the scales—and saved the California citrus industry.
- Pill bugs aka Doodle bugs aka Roly-Polys can get bacteria which can change a male to a female. They also drink water through their anus!
- Peonies are one of the longest-lived perennials with single specimens living a hundred years or more.
- Ants are actually good guys in the garden. They aerate the soil as efficiently as do earthworms. Every time they take food into their nests, they introduce organic matter into the soil. And they kill and eat the eggs and larvae of other insects like fleas, roaches, and termites. I still don’t want them in my kitchen, however.
- The smallest squirrel in the world is the African Pygmy Squirrel, which is about the size of a mouse. The largest is the Indian Giant Squirrel, which can grow up to three feet in length. Our common gray squirrel grows 15 to 20 inches long (not counting the six to nine-inch long tail) and weighs one to one and a half pounds.
- Dandelions were introduced here from Europe—brought over because of their nutritional and medical properties. The roasted roots were used as a coffee substitute, the flowers as a dye, as well as for making wine, the young tender new leaves tossed in salads or sautéed like spinach. And the medicinal uses were many—for everything from clearing the body of toxins to toothaches, even the plague. Score one for the dandelion.
- Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, tobacco, petunias, and tomatillos are all related. They belong to the Solanaceae family—also known as the Nightshade Family. Yes, they are related to the deadly nightshade. Maybe the next time you offer someone a plate of tomatoes, you can ask them if they’d like a slice of nightshade!