Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Meadow and the Swamp

In 1966, when Cornell University's Laboratory of Ornithology published "Enjoying Birds Around New York City," it included only two pages (out of 171) on New Jersey. At the top of the list is Troy Meadows, located in Parsippany-Troy Hills Township, which happens to be just north of my town. 

Boardwalk, Great Swamp management area
(Margo D. Beller)
The short listing calls it "a justly famous freshwater marsh" and that "though gradually losing to development, it is still our most extensive freshwater marsh." However, by the time of the 2004 revised edition of  "A Guide to Bird Finding in New Jersey," William J. Boyle Jr.'s describes the state of Troy Meadows this way, in part:

Because of the proximity of I-80 and I-280, which significantly reduced the size of Troy Meadows, it is now difficult to hear the early-morning calls of distant marsh birds due to the traffic from the highways. Nearby development and consequent siltration have reduced the value of the area to wildlife. Although it is seldom visited by birders anymore, it remains an interesting and worthwhile area to bird, and can still produce many of the expected marsh birds.  

The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is not mentioned in 1966 because at the time there was not much of it. MH remembers one designated trail at the end of a busy road - a road that is now incorporated into the refuge. There are several such incorporated roads. As time goes by the people whose homes were allowed to stand sold them to the federal govenment and went elsewhere. The homes were taken down and the land left open. By 2004, Boyle was referring to it as a "haven for wildlife in the midst of southern Morris County's ever-expanding suburbia."

Great Swamp in winter (Margo D. Beller)
Why did Troy Meadows contract while Great Swamp expand from one trail to 8,000 acres that include a managed area and a wilderness area?  

Both are threatened by over-development. Part of one area of the Swamp owned by Morris County as a park comes right up against backyards and runs along power lines. The federally owned part of the Swamp - the greater part of those 8,000 acres - provides plenty of room to wander without seeing human habitation. (This can be both good and bad, and it is always a good thing to hike with a companion.)

From my own birding experience, I am comfortable hiking throughout the Swamp, including the area where volunteers come maybe once a year to cut back fallen trees and clear the trails. The managed area has a tour road, boardwalked trails and is very popular with suburbanites who want their kids to experience "nature" in small doses. The wilderness area, as the name implies, tends to be muddier and more of a challenge, tho' I find the birding as good if not better than in the managed area.

I am not comfortable at Troy Meadows, even though at 3,000 acres it is considerably smaller than the Swamp. (That's one reason you won't see any photographs from there. We leave our cameras at home.) There are many access points onto the Meadows property. Some are off well-traveled roads but some are at deadends that are rather secluded and frequently used by people not there to go birdwatching. At least that's been my experience. (One time MH and I were walking an unpaved trail when several cars of area college-age kids drove by to what was once an old rifle range to hang out.) Another entrance, in the middle of a housing development, takes you into wild marsh. You might find roughlegged hawks flying over the power lines in winter or sparrows and warblers in the brush. But you'll also find the walking is difficult, there is no path per se and the grass will need a good mowing in late summer. 

Great Swamp vista, management area (Margo D. Beller)
Both areas were created by a receding glacier to form what was once Lake Passaic. But now the Great Swamp is in a part of Morris County where the people tend to have more money. In the late 1950s there was a plan to put a fourth New York City-area airport in the area. A citizens group led by housewife Helen Fenske rattled enough chains and bent enough ears to get the plan stopped. When a new visitor center was built, it was named for Helen Fenske.

The Meadows' Helen Fenske is Robert L. Perkins, Jr., who died just last year. Keeping "development" at bay in  Parsippany-Troy Hills is a much more difficult matter. (The township is an amalgamation of several smaller towns, the largest two of which became the new name.)

When I was growing up in NY there was the snooty Upper East Side and the wannabes on the Upper West Side. So to me those in Parsippany are those who wanted to show they'd "made it." Being one of the largest townships in the area, development is rampant and the McMansions have sprouted like weeds.

Perkins started agitating around the same time as Helen Fenske. However, as you can see from the timeline of Wildlife Preserves, the group he led, results have been mixed.

Late 1930s— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Troy Meadows as a national wildlife refuge to serve the greater New York metropolitan region, but the designation was never granted. Since the early 1950s, Troy Meadows has been reduced to half its original size. Troy Meadows continues to be endangered by development all around it.
1952— Wildlife Preserves was founded and incorporated by a group of philanthropic conservationists, including the organization's long-time President and Executive Director- ("Bob") Robert L. Perkins, Jr. of Tenafly, NJ. The fledgling corporation began fundraising from within and outside of New Jersey and started buying farm lots and meadowlands in the Passaic River Basin, including land in Troy Meadows, Hatfield Swamp, and along the Whippany, Rockaway, and Passaic Rivers in East Hanover, Hanover, and Parsippany-Troy Hills.  

Redheaded woodpecker, Colonial Park, NJ
(RE Berg-Andersson)
So Troy Meadows is owned by Wildlife Preserves, a private group, with some property owned by the State of New Jersey. Although considered an important area by the federal government, the feds have no ownership. The Swamp is mainly federally owned and patrolled, with large gates that block roads to vehicle traffic after hours, a large ranger station and lots of patrols in 4-wheel-drive vehicles. Troy Meadows is maintained by individuals who have to repair and replace things on their own through fundraising. As I said, there are no gates to keep area kids out. 

Here's another difference: Nowadays the Swamp is better known. However, those who see reports out of Troy Meadows, such as those compiled by veteran Meadows hiker and naturalist Jonathan Klizas through his mocosocobirds.com website, flock there. There are now breeding redheaded woodpeckers in the meadows (in the Swamp the reports are not as consistent). Recently, a Connecticut warbler - a notoriously difficult bird to find when it passes through New Jersey on its way south, was sighted there, as were Lincoln's sparrows. On the same mid-October day, 43 species of birds were found at the Swamp; 42 were found at Troy Meadows.

You can believe that Troy Meadows was a well-known marsh bird spot visited by famous ornithologists back in the day, including Roger Tory Peterson and Ludlow Griscolm. That's why, as Klizas told me, work continues to be done by Len Fariello, the manager of Wildlife Preserves, to keep the Meadows a meadow. That means putting up deer "exclosures" around the interior of the property to protect it from overbrowsing, planting trees and keeping the runaway phragmites under control.

So while you may have to work harder to shut out the surrounding noise and people watching you from their back decks, birding the Meadows won't waste your time. MH and I will have to try it again soon. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Where the Wild Things Are

When I go walking in my town, I look at the yard plants. I like to see what's growing and whether the deer have been at them. I look at what attracts butterflies and bees, what comes back year after year and what is uprooted in the fall. Many homes don't plant flowers or only buy pots of mums in gross in the fall they can throw out by Christmas. Many have the same types of shrubs.

Virginia creeper with berries (Margo D. Beller)
There is a sort of mania among some suburbanites. They must have neatly mowed grass, they must blow off even one leaf or twig that falls on it no matter the season, they must have layers of colored mulch put down around their shrubs and trees, they must put down (or have their lawn services put down) pounds of weed killer and insecticide on the grass. They want their property to look "natural" without the mess or the fuss.

I always get a chuckle out of seeing their weedy or burnt-over lawns in late summer, especially after a soggy spring. The orange mushrooms make for a nice contrast.

In my wanderings I've seen the more interesting plants in so-called "waste areas," those areas where neither homeowner nor town mow or use insecticides. Some of these areas may be designated "natural areas" and  planted with wildflowers such as milkweed and brown-eyed susans to draw those butterflies and bees. Most, however, are just weedy fields.

Inkweed (Margo D. Beller)
But weeds can also be interesting. While they may not look particularly pretty, these fields are like giant truck stops when they are going to seed in the fall for migrating and wintering or local birds.

Ragweed, for instance, the bane of allergy sufferers like me. At this time of year it is loaded with seed. So are the more benign goldenrod, joe-pye weed, coneflowers and thistle. The goldfinches and assorted sparrows really go for the seed.

Walking by one particular field I found a forest of inkweed, thick with purple berries favored by mockingbirds, catbirds, robins and other fruit eaters. There were pale purple asters drawing bees and vines of reddening Virginia creeper covered with black berries. Even my old nemesis the poison ivy was offering berries for the birds, which they will eat and spread.

To many, these "waste" areas are good for nothing except paving over. In Jersey City, where I once worked, at this time of year I'd see migrating northern parula, winter wrens, various types of sparrows and goldfinches in the weedy fields, chowing down for the next leg of their trip south (or north, in spring). I'd even find one of their predators, the endangered American kestrel. Then the light rail was built and those fields became apartment developments. The birds left and the people proliferated.

Snakeroot (Margo D. Beller)
That has not happened in my town, at least not much. These areas I visit are town or county property and not commercial. But in other areas I have seen buildings pulled down, weed fields spring up and then be paved over. Streets get clogged with more cars as more people move into "luxury" townhouse developments that spring up like weeds without the benefits to birds and insects.

My yard isn't particularly neat. MH does the lawn when it needs a cut, about every two weeks. In the backyard there are bits of wild daisy, aster, goldenrod and a nice white flower with the ugly name of snakeroot. There are also vines I try to keep under some kind of control and fruiting shrubs that seem to draw more squirrels than birds. No one will ever confuse my yard with those areas Mother Nature "developed" long before we were here. But I try. It's no waste of my time.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Flower Power

Every year at this time there is a sudden profusion of potted chyrsanthemums on my neighbors' doorsteps, usually dozens of pots that are paired with pumpkins and the occasional corn stalk or scarecrow.

Daisy-like mums, 2018 (Margo D. Beller)
This is part of the annual suburban fall ritual, along with taking kids apple-picking at the closest farm, using a leaf blower to push off the few leaves on the patio and having tailgate parties before the local football team plays.

Usually in October most flowers are fading and the only color seems to be the tree and shrub leaves or these potted mums on the doorstep. Usually. This year, thanks to all the rain and the sudden return of summer-like weather after a few weeks of cool the trees are mainly green. There are still roses and the annuals that have been out all season still blooming away.

In my yard, most of the plants bloomed and busted and have been cut back except for the late plants: pink flowers on the sedum and the Rose of Sharons, purple flower spikes on the liriope.

Mums are deer candy, so I can't understand why so many people are anxious to feed the critters. But I did have a mum once, when I was new to the neighborhood. I went to a nearby farm and bought a mum with an unusual flower - more like a daisy than a pincushion, with a yellow center and orange petals. I kept that "annual" going for years because I would bring it inside and let it winter on my enclosed back porch. Come spring, the plant - far less full than when I bought it - would go out front and bloom orange and yellow again in the fall. Two years ago, it finally bit the dust.

When I've looked for a replacement I've only found the pincushion variety of mums, which are sold by the gross at supermarkets, garden stores and the big-box appliance places such as Home Depot, usually two or three for $10. No one seemed to grow the daisy type.
Purple aster (Margo D. Beller)

I've also looked for another fall-blooming flower, a purple aster. When I created my garden after we had major work done on this house I put in a lot of plants and learned they should've been avoided. I had a number of asters and quickly found rabbits eating the foliage. So I put in a low fence to keep them from this particular garden plot. Then I discovered the shrubs behind the asters were being eaten from the top. That's when I discovered deer. I've been improving on my fencing ever since.

Once better protected the asters lasted for years until they, too, died off. Even perennials don't last forever. But when I have gone hiking I have seen and admired the pale purple New York asters or the deeper purple New England asters and thought I'd like to have at least one aster again.

Asters are not as popular as mums or even "ornamental kale," the version people put out front rather than the type they don't enjoy eating though they are told it is good for them. If I found them at all they looked anemic or were planted in fancy pots with other flowers. I could not find what I wanted.

Until last week.

There is a garden store with the grand name of The Farm. MH tells me it once was a farm - a turkey farm. But that was a long time in the rural past. it has been much, much more successful as a garden supply store catering to those with money in this particular part of Morris County, NJ. I used to buy things from here because it is not far from where my in-laws once lived. Then I discovered a lot of the same stuff could be bought cheaper closer to home.

Wild asters, Morris County, 2018 (Margo D. Beller)
But last week I decided to visit because it has been known to have plants I couldn't find elsewhere. There, to my astonishment, were two "white mums" of the daisy variety and deep purple asters that, while not wild, was close to what I thought would be nice to have again. I bought one of each. I have kept both in their pots, for now, in my garden behind the netting. They nicely color the space created after I cut back my spent perennials. They have already drawn bees and small butterflies.

The aster will be planted before winter and the mum will come inside and, with luck, bloom again in future years. Unlike many of my neighbors, the plants will be watered and not left to nature to take care of them, and they won't be thrown in the trash when the Halloween ornaments are taken down and the Christmas inflatables go up.

I am happy to finally have these plants again, even though I feel strange for giving in to this suburban ritual.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Danger Time

Canna, with bitten foliage, 2018 (Margo D. Beller
In my yard, September going into October is a dangerous time to be a plant.

There are many resources that will tell you which flowers, trees and shrubs are resistant to browsing by deer, but if they are honest they will tell you that a hungry deer will try eating just about anything.

Take my cannas. This is a tropical plant grown for its foliage. As an extra gift it sends up spikes of red, trumpet-like flowers that have been known to draw hummingbirds. Cannas are considered "very resistant" to browsing, according to New Jersey's Rutgers University.

Dahlia, in its new spot after deer "pruning" (Margo D. Beller)
That is not completely true in my yard. Because cannas are tropical, if you put them in the ground they must be pulled out, wrapped and stored before the winter cold can kill them. After the first year, I stopped doing that. I keep them in big pots and then cut them back in late fall and store the pots in the garage. Last year, a deer came to one of the pots and chewed off the flower stalk. The plant did not bloom again.

This year, I put the pots within wired fencing to create a cage. I also put in a dahlia, a late-blooming, flowering plant that must also be stored for winter. Both pots of cannas had lots of flower spikes during the rainy, hot summer.

Then came September. One morning a couple of weeks ago I came out to discover a tall stalk of dahlia flowers had been chewed off and left on the ground, the flowers I'd waited for gone. Then the deer decided to try for the canna flower stalk. It could not reach it. As compensation it took several large bites out of the foliage it could reach, leaving some of the leaves in tatters. I moved the dahlia pot and recently saw new growth and flower buds resulting from the unintentional pruning by the deer. The cannas, however, are still in the cage and every so often another bite or two is taken when the deer comes looking for that dahlia. Soon enough the foliage will be cut off and the pots put into the garage

Rose of Sharon flowers (Margo D. Beller)
Deer are threatened at this time of year, too. Perennial flowers they like to eat have died back. People, or their lawn services, have mowed their grassy lawn to within an inch of its life, leaving nothing for the deer to graze. So this is why they start hitting the shrubs such as the euonymous (the one known as Burning Bush is a particular favorite, if my neighbor's is any indication) and the yew hedges. I've put double netting on to protect the plants in several beds because deer have either eaten through the single netting or have somehow managed to slice a big hole so they can put their heads in and eat unimpeded.

Also at this time of year, there is bow and arrow hunting of deer allowed ahead of the annual November shotgun hunt, coincident with the time when mating generally takes place. So deer are on the move and when not looking for love they are looking for greener pastures. Literally.

Pink sedum and purple-spiked liriope (Margo D. Beller)
Meanwhile, back in my garden, the Shasta daisies, joe-pye weeds and goldenrod that I've had damaged by deer before (and which are now better protected) are no longer blooming. These have been cut back. What are blooming are the purple-spiked liriope and the pink sedum, both behind double deer netting. The rose of Sharon is fading, as is the butterfly bush. The leaves of the ferns, peony and astibe are browning. I'm counting down the days until I can cut back the last of the perennials and put burlap on the evergreens that will be the only thing available to the deer.

There are few in my area who go through this winter preparation. Then again, many of my neighbors' houses are landscaped with plants designed to be "carefree" and easily replaced when the deer inevitably come to eat them.

Soon the seed and suet feeders will be back up and I will enjoy watching the hungry birds. The deer, however, are on their own.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Make Way for the Monarch

Birds are not the only creatures heading south for the winter. Monarch butterflies are filing the skies, heading to winter grounds in central Mexico. The changing colors of the tree leaves get most of the attention of travelers in late September into October, but for those with the patience to stop and look around comes the reward of seeing the majestic orange and black wings of this large butterfly as it stops at fall asters, sunflowers, goldenrod and other flowers for food to power its trip south.

Biddeford Pool, Maine, Sept. 2018 (Margo D. Beller)
Think about it: This butterfly, which weighs next to nothing, has to travel thousands of miles if it is going to live to fly north in spring, find plants suitable for laying eggs and then die. The travel is treacherous. Winds blow them off course, forcing them to use precious energy to keep going. I've seen monarchs traveling over water as they hug the coast, such as the dozens MH and I saw along the coast of Maine, undeterred by strong northwest winds pushing them from the side.

Monarch and bees on sunflower, Morris Townwhip, NJ, Sept. 2018
(Margo D. Beller)
They must avoid other hazards - hungry birds, spider webs (I've saved many a monarch from a web laid across a thick bush of dune rose. Have you?), careless humans accidentally or intentionally catching and killing them. Like the birds, they keep going. They are programmed to do this. If you provide them with suitable plants, they will stop in your yard and then continue. I've seen monarchs take advantage of all the flowering autumn mums currently offered by garden centers for suburban front doorways, for instance.

We hear about the importance of milkweed to the life cycle of monarch butterflies and other pollenators, and I've been seeing more and more of the plants growing in local parks and roadsides. But the flowers still blooming at this time of year - coneflowers, butterfly bush, asters, goldenrod - are, to me, just as important because without them the butterfly would not be able to travel far and would be killed by the inevitable cold weather.

There are many other butterflies, of course, but monarchs are threatened by habitat loss in Mexico. Up here, in my part of the world, unless you have planted many types of flowers to draw butterflies, you won't see them much if you have the usual kinds of nonflowering shrubs planted to make it as easy on the homeowner (and landscaping crew) as possible.

(Margo D. Beller)
This year's weather was not kind to my butterfly plants, which is why I have seen few monarchs in my yard. The spring rains washed out a lot of the soil where the joe-pye weeds grow, resulting in few, spindly plants and fewer pink flowers. The orange butterfly weed - a type of milkweed - bloomed and busted earlier still. I no longer grow asters - something I should rectify - and the type of goldenrod I grow did most of its blooming in the heat of summer.

Luckily, I have seen many other flower gardens elsewhere that have been drawing monarch butterflies, and for that I'm grateful.


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Like a Goat in Clover

Goats at work (Margo D. Beller)
There was a time when New Jersey's trees were felled for settlements. White settlers brought flower seeds from the old country. When the flowers bloomed, they eventually went to seed and some of those seeds flew off miles away thanks to wind or birds. These now-wild flowers were joined by those tougher plants we now consider to be weeds, growing wherever they had access to water, sun or, in some cases, shade.

As farms were laid out and fenced, cattle, sheep and goats would roam the pastures. They would graze on grasses and weeds. But as farms have been sold and become housing developments, farm animals no longer grazed, to be replaced by Canada geese despoiling lawns and walkways, and deer browsing store-bought and native understory plants, allowing invasives to thrive.

Pretty goldenrod surrounded by not-so-pretty ragweed
(Margo D. Beller)
When you find yourself with an overabundance of weeds, there are several things you can do. If you have a small bit of land, you can pull out the weeds or use a hoe or shovel to bring them out. But weeds are tricky. Many of them will come out with the roots attached but many more break off, leaving roots in the ground to create another plant the next year. Getting them out takes time and toil, and even then many weeds need disturbed ground to germinate. So pulling out garlic mustard in the spring will likely allow ground ivy or Bermuda grass to thrive in summer.

If you have a larger property, or don't care to spend the time and effort, there are plenty of chemical poisons to buy. However, a sloppy user may kill off good plants along with the bad, including your lawn grass. Weed killer on pavement leaves behind the shriveled remains of the plants, which you'll have to pull out anyway. Worse, the next heavy rain may wash traces of the poison down to sewers and then out to sea.

Weeds along the electrified fence (Margo D. Beller)
If you have more of an ecological bent and a very large piece of property, you can do a controlled burn to eradicate the invasive plants. But you will need a permit, experienced firefighters and just the right weather conditions - dry but not too dry, no wind, It will take many hours for the fire to do its work and you will be left with scorched earth. When the land recovers you will have to plant your natives quickly before the weeds can come back.

Then there's the old way - let the livestock eat it.

Lying in a pasture, surrounded by tall weeds, wildflowers, and staghorn sumac and ailanthus trees, four goats quietly chew. An electric fence surrounds them, protecting them from predators. There is a hut to shelter them, if needed. They hunker down in the weeds or walk around or climb up against a tree trunk to gnaw at the lower leaves. 

All they have to do is eat. It is an easy life. It is also their job.

The four goats from Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary are in their four-acre enclosure just off the parking lot at the Land Conservancy of New Jersey's South Branch Preserve in Mt. Olive. They are tasked with taking down any weed found in their patch, be it the pretty, yellow-flowered goldenrod, the sneeze-inducing ragweed or others including mile-a-minute weed, mugwort, autumn olive, multiflora rose and oriental bittersweet.

According to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, generally 10 goats will clear an acre in about a month. So you can understand why the Land Conservancy is hoping the four goats can clear four acres over the next three years.

Look closely to see the goats in their element. (Margo D. Beller)
Watching the goats can induce calm and pastoral thoughts. That these thoughts come in one of the fastest "developed" parts of Morris County, NJ, where motels, residences and commercial strips have sprung up like weeds in the past two decades is no small irony. 

To be sure, even on the South Branch property there are still more than enough weeds that could take a goat or 20. Ragweed and goldenrod and Queen Anne's lace are among those standing sentry in front of the fencing, making it hard to see where to step if you want to get a better look at the goats. Along the property's hiking trail, native grasses, brown-eyed Susans, purple liatris and milkweed mix with blue chicory, globe thistle, wild asters, crown vetch and ground ivy. 

If you agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson that "a weed is but a plant whose virtues remain undiscovered," this is a pretty wilderness. Weeds are fighters that had adapted to modern life. But if you want native plants to thrive, the "weeds" are the bad guys and must be destroyed to eliminate the competition for water and light.

However, if you're a goat, you don't care either way. You just eat.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Bugged

If there is one thing I dislike more in summer than heat, humidity, weeds and deer, it is insects.

The huge amount of rain that fell in August spawned a bumper crop of mosquitoes that, along with the biting flies, hornets, gnats and no-see-ums, make walking difficult, even without heat and humidity. I walk in the bedewed grass in the morning and I come to the porch with bare ankles burning from bites. I walk along my favorite path and where there is standing water a cloud of mosquitoes follows, biting my arms despite flailing them around, or swarming around my knees, smelling the blood from veins near the surface.

State bird of New Jersey (a free picture courtesy of Pixabay)
The estimated ratio of insects to humans is 200 million to one, say Iowa State University entomologistsIn the United States, the number of described species is approximately 91,000, according to the Smithsonian Institution. One site that catalogs the bugs found in New Jersey says there are 584. They include the pretty butterflies, the not-so-pretty cockroaches, beetles, spiders, the aphids that will suck the life out of your plants, the ladybugs that will eat the aphids, the almost prehistoric-looking praying mantis and the ticks that are the bane of hikers who go off-road or travel through long grass and rough terrain. The cicadas call during the hot days, the katydids during hot nights and the crickets at all times.

There are also the many types of wasps, hornets, yellow-jackets and bees plus the midges known as no-see-ums, sandflies and chiggers. Travelers to the shore must contend with biting green-headed flies, whose numbers can force birders to look from inside their cars, windows rolled up.

When it comes to mosquitos we are told to remove all standing water. In my case that means frequent changing of the water in the dish I keep out for the birds, the ant moat that keeps insects from covering (and drowning in) the hummingbird feeder and emptying out the excess water from saucers underneath potted plants. But the other bugs I can't see or hear are worse. I push aside the large leaves of the potted canna to water the soil and something bites my arms. I walk in the grass to pick up brush and something bites my ankles. I cut back the overgrowth of the multiflora rose or a vine and something bites my elbow. 

Yes, I know, bugs are part of the circle of life. They are food for birds. While some have been cutting chunks out of the leaves of my plants and shrubs, others have been eating the offenders. Many pollinate the flowers. A bite once in a while I can tolerate, but the increase in the number of bites I am finding on me (some of which don't start getting very itchy until hours after the fact) is, with the intense heat, forcing me indoors more than I'd like, and that has me bugged. 

MH rarely wears short-sleeved shirts in summer. He usually wears long sleeves to protect his arms, particularly when he mows the lawn and disturbs the many insects in the grass that don't appreciate the intrusion. Many of these insects also hide in my garden plants, such as the hornets I discovered using my pot of perennial geranium for their nest last year when I attempted to water it. 

So when the next cool-down comes and it is time to start cutting back the garden - very soon, I hope - I will have to do more to protect myself, too.