Everyone needs a Project!

Every year around November after we’ve gotten all the beds mulched and the yard winter-ready, I start dreaming about next year’s Project. It’s one of my favorite winter activities – and it involves lots of research, note taking and seed catalogs. Each Project facilitates a certain goal – like attracting more hummingbirds. That was the first year we moved here. Then it was making an oasis for bumblebees, then attracting Monarchs and this year (as you’ve probably guessed) it was nighttime pollinators, like moths and bats.

A Cecropia moth – huge *and* cuddly looking

And of course once you’ve created a sanctuary for hummingbirds or an oasis for bumblebees, you can’t *not* do it the next year too. So my Projects are cumulative, which is a lot of fun for me, and a lot of work for Gene. But what am I supposed to do, disappoint an entire legion of bumblebees by telling them “Oh, sorry – you guys are just too 2019. I’ve moved on.” So obviously I recreate everything from years past, and put in my order for more raised beds to be built to accommodate all the new plants.

Unlike literally everything else I planted last year – the milkweed came back! Which didn’t stop me from getting more, just in case. Gene is always saying “One is none and two is one”… he should be proud of me.

I grow almost everything from seeds because I’m frugal* that way, although I did break the bank just a bit when I vastly underestimated just how much space my newly sprouted seeds would take once they’d been growing for a month or two and needed to be transplanted.

By the time June rolled around, I had a basement with a row of new grow lights hanging from the ceiling, a couple tables covered with a huge piece of plywood, and a grumbling husband who probably got a bit tired of being informed that he was “doing this for the bees – think of the beeeeeeees.”

At any rate, it was all worth it – we’ve attracted an amazing variety of moths. I chose plants that both host the caterpillars and bloom at night, and I love puttering around in the morning looking at them all. They hide in the leaves or bask in the sunshine, waiting for the dance party to start when Gene turns on the porch light after dark.

I’m having a hard time picking my favorite moth, each one is so cool in its own way. There’s this cheerful fellow, a Giant Tiger Moth, who looks like a rug from IKEA:

And then the Honey Locust Moth, who hangs about looking like a dead leaf:

And then there’s this one, that I’m still trying to identify – despite nerding out and getting three different identification guides, including one that’s laminated and folds out like a map. It’s aptly named “Moths In Your Pocket” and I won’t say that I take it everywhere, even though it’s totally true. But I digress. Check this out – he sleeps by curling up into a roll and clinging to a stem:

That level of dedication to napping should be applauded.

Peak moth season is already winding down, but hopefully I did my homework correctly and they’ll overwinter here – which means I’ll require a bigger deck to accommodate all the plants we’re going to need…

*I did the math – it’s way more frugal to buy 5 exotic morning glory seeds for $10 than it is to fly to Japan to get them. Another reason Gene should be proud of me – I saved us a ton of money!

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