Saturday, June 20, 2015

Eye of the Beholder - Bumblebee Love and Garden Update

Bumblebee on dahlia that also has fed thrips and Japanese beetles.
The bumblebee in the picture to the right doesn't care that the petals of the dahlia have been ruined by thrips and Japanese beetles. The bee is after the abundant pollen, and the petals are relatively unimportant compared to the sweet spot in the center of that amazing flower.

This past week has been National Pollinator Week, so I have been in full "insect-mode" all week, watching flowers to see who visits and inspecting leaves for other critter activity. Happily, my garden is full of life of all kinds, so there has been plenty to observe!
Caterpillar covered by eggs of a parasite. Wasp? Fly?

One of the caterpillars I found had been immobilized by parasites. I don't know whether the eggs on the caterpillar are from a wasp or a fly, but I was surprised by the sheer number of eggs that had been laid on that one, green larva. It seems unlikely that the caterpillar will provide enough food for the whole brood.

When planting flowers, with the idea of supporting our native pollinators and making sure that our food gardens will be productive, it is easy to forget that some pollinator babies are caterpillars that eat leaves and soft stems, that some pollinators can damage homes (carpenter bees),  that some can make a lawn look really weird for a few weeks in spring (digger bees), and that some insects that are not pollinators (thrips, Japanese beetles) will also be attracted to the garden.

Damaged stem is evidence that a squash vine borer larva is already inside.
Even a small garden will be filled with insects; some will be more welcome that others.

The moth that is the mother of the squash vine borer has been flying in my yard, and I finally have seen damage on the stems of my zucchini plants that indicates her eggs have hatched and her babies are inside my plants.

Earlier this week, after seeing the damage, I slit open each stem and sprayed Bt for caterpillars inside, soaking the interior of the stems and spraying the outsides of the stems up to where the the newest flowers are opening. If all goes as well as in the last couple of years, this will halt the damage and I will get squash until something else (mildew) kills the plants.

Meanwhile, we are bringing in plenty of great vegetables, and I am enjoying the life of the garden.
This looks like Abundance to me.

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