Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Death of a Loquat Tree (with bonus puppy photo!)

We have several loquat trees in our back yard. Also known as Japanese plums, these trees are a pretty common sight around here, almost to the point of invisibility - you kinda stop noticing them. Until something weird happens.

I'm poking around with the dog in the back yard a few days ago and notice that one of the loquat trees is looking, well, pretty bad. Every leaf is drooping and turning brown. What's weird is that there are two more on either side of it - and they look great! They're actually flowering right now.

Not my best work, but here are two of the trees - the dying one is on the left:

A close-up of the leaves:

The other healthy tree:

I brought a leaf in to Kim, our Master Gardener, but it's really hard to tell what's ailing a tree by one brownish leaf. There's no sign of insect damage, which would lead me - in all my ignorance - to believe it's a disease affecting this tree. So why just the one? We must have seven or eight loquat trees in the back yard.

If we were to figure out what the problem was, I hope it's an inexpensive cure. Kyle doesn't really like the loquats for some reason, and has been talking about taking them down. Luckily, he's got an invasive mimosa and some dangerously close pine trees on his to-do list now.

In a completely unrelated story, my puppy!

Just chillin' on the front lawn with Kyle. I can't believe how big she's getting. Not a pokey little puppy anymore, sigh...

Although not a grownup dog, either. This morning I stumble out of the bathroom to see that Murphy has thrown up on the bedroom carpet (for some reason she never chooses to do this on the tile). This is not the first time this has happened, and in fact, it's the same stuff - pine bark, leaves, but with a new addition - some fiber from a toy she destroyed at a friend's house the previous evening.

Not the best way to start your day. But then I look at her and she's just so damn cute.

To use a phrase that's becoming very popular in our household, damn dog.

Friday, November 6, 2009

This frog: cute or invasive?

I found this fellow hanging out on our kitchen windowsill the other night, probably attracted to the floodlight in our back yard.

It was pretty small (wish I'd taken a photo with something in the shot for size comparison), and quite calm. I thought his hazel eyes were beautiful, almost bronze.

I called Kyle out for a look and he thought it might be a Cuban treefrog - which would be bad. They're invasive - they eat our native Florida treefrogs and compete for resources with them. Florida treefrogs are much smaller and have significantly smaller toe pads. You can read more at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research & Education Center's Invasive Cuban treefrog web page.

Comparing this photo to one of a Cuban treefrog I found on the UF/IFAS web site, I'm afraid Kyle was right:

The problem with Cuban treefrogs is that their coloring can vary pretty widely, from really dark brown, to striped or splotchy. But the toe pads look pretty similar.

I was pretty bummed. You're supposed to humanely dispose of them - in fact, it's illegal to release them again. The best way to euthanize the Cuban treefrogs is to put a generous dose of benzocaine (20%) on either their backs or stomachs, which will render them unconscious. You then put them in a plastic baggie and place it in the freezer, where the froggy "goes to sleep." Be sure to wear gloves while doing this, as the frog can give off a slime that irritates the skin.

Not being sure at the time that it was a Cuban treefrog, I didn't do this. But I guess I'll have to if I see it again. (I kinda hope I don't see it again.)