Hawaii is a strange place, in that the vast majority of plants, animals, birds, and insects are introduced species. MAN is, of course, the most invasive species of all. Long before the Europeans came, the Hawaiians had completely modified the ecosystem, making it suitable for carrying a population of hundreds of thousands. The Big Island was the richest and most populous island of the old kingdom.
Hawaiian agriculture is a fascinating subject. Every inch of land was accounted for. When Europeans came, they disrupted the whole system by introducing alien plants, cattle, European pigs, etc. etc. and in general destroying the old land use patterns. This was a completely self-sustaining ecosystem, hundreds of years old.
We have a peculiar mini-ecosystem chez Hattie, based on what was here before, what we have introduced and what just shows up from time to time.
Our spiders have proliferated lately. Yesterday a girl came to the door trying to interest us in carpet cleaning. We have no carpets, so that went nowhere. She was totally terrified of the big spiders we allow to live on the porch. "Oh, I wouldn't live here," she said. "I would be too scared." Spiders take care of a lot of insects, especially those little black fruit flies. Less welcome are the crab spiders, which can bite. When I go into the backyard I take a stick to batter their webs when I see them.
There are the mosquitoes, of course. We have a propane mosquito trap that does quite well against them. Our skins have become impervious to their bites, in any case, but visitors, with their tender Mainland skin, can get bit pretty badly. And I don't like them swarming around.
The bigger fruit flies are a continuing problem. The only way we can deal with the damage to our fruit is to pick it just before it's fully ripe. We have some traps, and they trap hundreds of flies, but hundreds more are hatching out all the time.
Then there is the birdlife. This a.m. I was annoyed to see a woman spreading birdseed out on the grass next door. She was a visiting Mainlander who was not thinking about the way these birds: mynahs, several species of doves, Chinese white-eyes, Java sparrows, cardinals and others, are all Mainland species. When they get this kind of nutrition, they proliferate madly, and when the supply goes away they suffer.
The household predator, Freddy, scored a mynah zebra dove yesterday, eviscerated it and left the rest of it on the dining room floor. His diet of Eukanuba, Fancy Feast and the occasional bit of meat or fish from the table does not satisfy him completely. He wants us to know that he is still all cat.
Fred at breakfast time
Leavings from the mynah dove feast
This a.m. we removed our old mattress and boxspring, and the new king size bed was delivered. When we turned the old box spring out, we found a colony of fire ants on the underside of it. This whole neighborhood is full of ant colonies of at least three species. It's a wonder we did not get bitten more than we did.
Old box spring
Ants on old box spring
We do like the geckos and lizards, and they are good insect eaters, too. We have come to terms with the coqui, just keeping them off our lot as much as we can.
But nothing bothers the orchids, thank goodness. They are from all over the tropics, of course. Since they don't have their pollinators here, the blossoms last and last, from a week or so for the cattleyas to sometimes months for dendrobiums. This particular orchid, an oncidium hybrid, did not bloom for several years, so I forgot about it. Then it burst forth with blossoms. These are small blooms, about one inch wide.
So this is what "living in nature" means in Hawaii.