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Old 03-19-2009, 10:11 AM   #1
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Default Water filled tree cavities.

Here are two pictures of just two places in the garden that hold water for much of the year. In the crotch of the tree is a hollow space that often contains a murky debris filled pool of water.
Even the logs lining paths through the woodland garden and in the wood pile have places that will sometimes hold water.
This was a concern of mine for years. As a wildlife habitat gardener many such water holes exist throughout the garden.
So what to do?
I have decided to do nothing and just leave them be. Water is held in hollow stems,cupped leaves and even in the flowers of some insect eating plants like pitcher plant, so it would be impossible to remove all or keep fresh this abundance of life sustaining vernal pools.
These microhabitats often contain the larvae or nymphs of flies(including hover flies),beetles, mites,mosquitoes and even dragonflies. Some tree frogs live and breed in what can be gallons of water in deep decayed tree hollows.
Many bees and butterflies seem to prefer taking moisture from the water soaked spongelike decaying debris that always occurs.
These creatures,including many micro organisms, eat each other and the decomposing materials. Nature at work filling all the niches...
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Old 03-19-2009, 10:56 AM   #2
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"Nature at work filling all the niches..." Nice comments
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:04 PM   #3
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Glad to here you've deciced to leave those water sources be.

If you replaced the water with "fresh" water daily, you could kill all of the amphibian eggs and tadpoles. Most municipalities add chloramine to the water which does not diffuse but takes weeks to break down and will kill amphibian larva and fish within a day or two. Second, any buckets or devices used to carry/store water could contain chemicals that are deadly to amphibians/fish. Most household cleaners, including soaps, are far more persistent than one might imagine. Simply washing out the buckets does not remove the chemicals, but merely masks their presence.

The general concern I've heard people have is mosquitos. One person who wanted to put poison in her ditch was living next to an abandoned corn field which was mowed but contained thousands of water filled ruts. Flying insects don't really pay attention to property lines When I had a pond, I just told people I put mosquito dunks in it to keep their anxious minds from worrying. Truth is the mosquitos were no more nor less numerous after the pond was installed, there was no noticable difference either way.
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Old 03-20-2009, 09:16 AM   #4
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Yeah. . . now that I live next to a wetland, I scoff at the idea that water-filled containers need to be dumped to prevent mosquitoes. Sure, we have mosquitoes! But they tend to stay in the woods. And the dragonflies are phenominal.
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Old 03-20-2009, 10:17 AM   #5
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One reason I love my cup plants (silphium perfoliatum) is the little cups (or niches) that they grow.

When you look in the cup, you can see little water bugs in there.

And when I see a bird drink from the cup that mother nature created, that I grew in my yard, it puts a warm fuzzy in my soul.
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Old 04-06-2009, 02:19 PM   #6
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I thought of you today when I took this photo Gloria. Thanks for making me think about the water in the cavity.

Hawthorn with water in cavity.
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Old 04-08-2009, 07:32 AM   #7
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Just a couple of notes - (1) The generic term for these cavities is phytotelma (plural: phytotelmata) - see Phytotelma - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(2) In some areas of the eastern half of the USA, treeholes, especially in oaks, along with artificial containers such as tires, are the favored habitat of a mosquito species, Ochlerotatus (formerly Aedes) triseriatus, that vectors La Crosse virus, causative agent of La Crosse encephalitis - see ENY672/IN420: La Crosse Encephalitis
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Old 04-08-2009, 02:25 PM   #8
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Thanks for bringing that up suunto. I think of phytotelma when I think of Sarracenia but not when I think of an oak or in this case a hawthorn... and I should be thinking of it for both.
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Old 04-09-2009, 07:51 PM   #9
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According to Ritke & Babb, grey tree frogs often use knotholes and water filled tree cavities as a resting place (Source: Johnson, T.R. (2nd Edition).The Amphibians and Reptiles of Missouri.)
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Old 04-10-2009, 07:04 AM   #10
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A few years ago I read about a treefrog in SE Asia that had been discovered to call from within tree cavities, and even tune its call according to the acoustics of the cavity. Being able to tune a call is a first for amphibians.

My wife takes pictures of the weirdest things, and she's got a collection of phytotelmata.
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