A recap of garden insects for 2019
Admittedly, November is a tough month to come up with a gardening topic. The plants have gone dormant, the ground is frozen and the snow begins to accumulate. What more is there to say than, “If you didn’t get it done by now, it’ll be waiting for you under the snow until spring.”
I guess, I should add, rehydrating a Thanksgiving turkey by “watering it,” doesn’t count as gardening either...and if it does grow something, that’s not a good sign.
All joking aside though, I thought I would review this year’s Master Gardening topics. This season, I focused on insects mostly, then ventured out into earthworms. I hadn’t necessarily planned on this, it just sort of happened as the gardening season unfolded.
Initially, I had a personal interest in learning more about beneficial insects. I wanted to have a better understanding of just how helpful they could be, so I focused on insects I found in my garden.These included lady bugs, lacewings and lightning bugs.
All these beneficial insects are cute, harmless to humans and help decrease garden pests. Although they can’t control major infestations, they can help keep numbers of some garden pests, like aphids, lower. It is important to not use pesticides, as they can kill beneficial insects, too.
Then, we explored a little bit about earthworms. I think we all know earthworms are beneficial, but it doesn’t hurt to stress the point in this case. They do the dirty work. They keep the soil healthy, so all the lovely foliage, flowers, fruits and vegetables will grow.
Of course, a summer without ants wouldn’t be right. The interesting thing about ants, is that they can be beneficial or harmful, depending on the situation. Ants don’t typically cause damage, but some can succumb to the temptation of honeydew.
If you remember, honeydew is a sweet and sticky by-product of aphids. Some ants, when they find a source, will protect the aphids from harm. It’s a brilliant strategy if you’re the ant, but from the gardener’s perspective, it’s not conducive to promoting a healthy garden ecosystem.
After ants, there came the definite garden pests. This included the invasive Japanese Beetle. This import can cause damage in larger numbers and does need to be removed. The slow moving pests of snails and slugs can do some damage, but typically they are not going to be a big problem for a gardener. And let’s face it, if you can’t catch’em...well, there you have it.
Aphids were the last garden pest to be covered. They are fairly common, but can easily be removed without pesticides.
The last two insects covered in the bug series, were hummingbird and tussock moths. Hummingbird moths are large bodied moths that are easily mistaken for actual hummingbirds. The larval form is the hornworm caterpillar, which has the ever-so intimidating horn.
Lastly, there was the unassuming tussock moth. This is a selective feeder requiring milkweed for its caterpillars to feed on. Make sure to plant it and they will come.