i called my father in the evening asking him about the basement humidity reading. afterwards he told me that critters had gotten into the lotus barrels again, and there were a few dead plants. even though we put chicken wires over everything, the wires were pushed down into the barrels likely by something heavy. i wasn't even listening to him at that point, just wanted to hang up. i changed into my jeans and rode the motorcycle straight to belmont to inspect the damage.
my parents were surprised but yet not too surprised to see me. both barrels are murky again after all that hard work i did yesterday keeping one of them clean. my father had taken off the chicken wires for the time being, two large sunken depressions. i started pulling up the lotus pots one by one. 2 plants were entirely dead, leaves ripped from seeds. the kicker was whatever did this ate the seeds. 5 other plants survived, in various state of damage. the oldest lotus had been entirely uprooted, but all the stems were still intact. this one plant is a real survivor, having outlasted 2 critter attacks. uprooting it actually gave me a change to see how the roots were developing and spot the running rhizome stem. a few coin leaves on the other lotuses seemed wilted. i thought maybe it was water damage, but my father suggested that maybe the leaves were out of the water the entire day and got scorched in the sun, which seems like the likely explanation. leaves they can regrow, seeds all seem intact and still buried.
i put all the surviving lotuses back into the shallow barrel (water very warm from being out in the sun all day) and my father and i constructed a more elaborate cage. i was going to make a taller cage anyway, once the aerial leaves started forming, we're just doing it a bit early. there are only a few animals that could've done this. birds and squirrels, too light. whatever did this was heavy enough to push down the wire mesh. the only culprit i could think of would be raccoons. only they would be smart enough to try digging for food underwater. a few other hints point to raccoons: one of the buttercup plants was chewed up (the one by the evergreens) and some animal had flipped over my silver-plate bird bath dish onto the ground.
before i left i set up the wyze camera so it was pointing outside, in the hopes of catching the raccoons if they came back. unfortunately once it got completely dark, the camera was useless and could see nothing but infrared glare.