Those darn raccoons. They are as cute as they can be, yet maddening when sweet corn season rolls around. One summer, they wreaked such havoc in our corn patch that I resorted to running an extension cord out to the garden and playing Rock 104 (now 96.3) all night. With a light on. It worked.

There are other criminals when it comes to our gardens, too. While I don’t like to kill any living thing, there are times when you need to measure the level of harm to the species versus the benefit of growing food for your family.

I love butterflies, but we have quite enough of cabbage whites, thank you very much. Even though they aren’t native, they are one of the most widespread species of butterflies in the world. I like my broccoli. Other people like their cabbages. The little green caterpillars you see on those? They’re the larval form of the small white butterflies you see flying around everywhere.

First, let’s be reminded that animals and insects are very important to a garden and to us. They perform pollination and keep other insects under control. The latter is the concept behind IPM (Integrated Pest Management). Ecologically, each organism has its place, even if it’s just providing food for another species.

Pollination occurs in many ways. Corn is pollinated by the wind. Squash is pollinated by native bees and sometimes honey bees. Hummingbirds help pollinate passion fruit and cashews. Fruit bats are one of mango’s pollinators.

But there are robbers out there and they’re very sneaky, unlike the obviousness of raccoons. Last week, Paulding resident Susan Simpson posted a video on her Facebook page of a carpenter bee on her hostas’ blooms. Instead of entering the flower through the front, like most bees do, this bee was making slits at the base and sucking the nectar from the bloom.

This is odd behavior to us, but not to many insects who make a habit of getting their nectar this way. Short-tongued bees, for example, don’t anatomically have the ability to reach the nectar of tubular blooms like those on Susan’s hostas. They’ve figured out by making a hole at the base of the flower, they can easily get the goods.

Of course, this method bypasses the pollination function, since they don’t pass by a flower’s stamen, causing the pollen to attach to their bodies. This also doesn’t allow any pollen they may have inadvertently collected to be transferred to pistils of other like flowers. Because of the mechanics of feeding this way, these insects are called nectar robbers.

Another unusual activity that some bees engage in is cutting circles out of leaves. Leafcutter bees are fun to watch as they make quick work of chewing away a small piece of leaf and carrying it back to their nests. They use it to line the cells where they raise their young. I’ve witnessed this and I’m fascinated every time I see it.

For those who are observant, like Susan, there’s no end to the wonders you’ll see in nature. Take time to really look at what’s going on. You may view nature in an entirely new way and appreciate it more.