We had our monthly meeting of the Pond Society last evening which ended up being a very good one. As per usual, we were treated to our welcoming feast of good things which included cheeses, sandwiches and fresh veggies for us to munch on. This time, someone had baked some small cakes which were absolutely delicious.
On my way in, I stopped at my most favorite store next to Home Depot and Lowes, which is Starbucks, and cashed in a free drink card that I had earned by buying 15 lattes on my Starbucks card. It seems that Starbucks is doing everything they can to encourage my habit. On the other hand, I did read somewhere that coffee is good at warding of some types of cancer so in my mind, that makes it OK to drink the stuff. Heck, I don’t even like the taste that much. It seems that my car has a mind of its own and can’t pass a Starbucks without turning in. I usually have the medium Grande size but because the last one was free, I had the giant Vente size AND splurged on a hazelnut latte. It went down very well with the free food and a drink that size lasts a long time. It also encouraged many trips to the Men’s Room.
Following this 15 minutes of feeding our faces and chatting to the people around us, Bill Brister called the meeting to order. He brought up several items of business which included looking for volunteers for a couple of pond cleaning projects. There was a sign sheet going around and several people signed up to help.
B.J. got up and made another impassioned plea for volunteers to help man the tables and a couple of other things. She announced that the pond count was up to 19 with a few more to confirm so it looks like we will have a tour. Not that there was too much doubt and I know that B.J. can be very persuasive.
The speaker that had originally been scheduled was from LCRA and was going to talk to us about water and lack of it. He had to pull out at the last-minute and a replacement speaker was found to take his place. The gentleman in question is an Environmental Scientist, Andrew Clammann, working for The City‘s Watershed Protection Department.
I don’t think I have ever seen anyone more enthusiastic about his chosen field. He gave us a brief rundown of his background including a stint as a teacher at Bowie High School. In the end though, he said that he wanted to spend more time in his chosen field which is the study of all insects and creatures that inhabit our ponds and wetlands. So, he gave up studying kids for studying insects. Probably made the right decision for at least the insects don’t answer back. On the other hand, they don’t pay much attention either probably no less than the kids do. Apologies to Andrew if I start to refer to them as bugs. Somehow, like the majority of us, anything that crawls or flies is a bug. There are good bugs and bad bugs but they are still bugs…
He brought with him many samples in little glass phials plus a whole board full of dragon flies. It seemed that either because most of us have at least seen the dragonflies as opposed to many of the other bugs he was talking about, that we spent a lot of time talking about them. He described what seemed like hundreds of them but was probably closer to ten or fifteen.
The members really warmed up to Andrew and his subject and peppered him with many questions. He described the “things” in the glass phials with the leech getting the most attention and then in response to another members question, he raised a very interesting point. He described us as pond enthusiasts as being mostly beneficial in helping to promote this vast array of water type insect life. He had already told us about the natural food chain where the smaller get eaten by the bigger and on up the line and how in order to maintain this natural order, he recommended that we leave a couple of inches of sludge and silt in the bottom of the ponds as it is a natural breeding ground for many of these water bugs. Some stay in the water for up to seven years before they emerge into some sort of flying or crawling insect and this is usually because of the urge to mate.
Needless to say, this really opened the door for those that want pristine clear water to the rest of us that let nature take its course and there followed a brief discussion on this subject. I for one, only clean out the worst of the muck from my ponds and I rely very heavily on having a good filtering system to keep the water clear. I have so many oak trees that it is a hopeless job trying to clean it all out anyway and I can’t do much to keep it clear when the fish are going through their mating ritual as they stir everything up including the female fish.
On the other hand, Andrew did talk against leaving more than a couple of inches as anything below that following the natural order of things, start to rot and turn black and when it does, it has lost all of its usefulness for any insect to live in it. So, the question is still out there. How clean is clean and how clean is too clean.
Andrew spoke for over an hour and I managed to tape most of it on video. As with most of us amateurs, the quality of the sound is not so good but I think most of you will enjoy it. At least, when you get bored, you can turn it off.
Here is a link to Andrews entire presentation. I strongly encourage you to take a look.
I personally really enjoyed listening to Andrew. He made it very interesting and no one can ever doubt his enthusiasm for his work. Bugs took on a whole new meaning as he explained what many of them do.
Some of the things that we can look forward to in the next couple of months are April’s meeting which will be a member favorite on transplanting, replanting and potting ‘water lilies’ and bog plants. The May meeting will be our annual plant swap. If you have any plants that you would like to pass on even if you are not interested in getting anything new, please be ready to bring your plants along.