Zone 7a April 10, 2012
they're in the community garden, too!
Bon, Good! Now just watch them get to work reproducing and going after all the little pest bugs.
Katie, That's great news. I've had lady bugs here a couple of weeks now and it is a good thing because it seems like we have hordes of pest bugs this year.
Ok, so I've been seeing tons of ladybugs hanging out at the tops of tall plants all over the place. Is there something going on with them? I've never seen so many, and all of them doing the same thing.
There are tons of leaf-eating bugs (herbivores) this year and they are arriving earlier than usual. The population of predator bugs (carnivores) like lady bugs only increases after a stable, plentiful food supply is in place for them. So, when you are seeing a huge number of lady bugs it is because there is a huge population of pest bugs already there. The lady bugs you are seeing are busy eating whatever pests---often aphids and mites but other pests as well---are on the plants where you're seeing them.
While it is always good to see lady bugs, their presence in large numbers indicate you have the herbivore insects already present in large numbers, so in that sense seeing a lot of them is a kind of a bad sign that there's huge numbers of herbivores present feeding on your plants. Yet, it is also a good sign that you have lots of carnivores present to prey on the herbivores. It is nature at work in an unnaturally warm and early spring.
The bigger issue would be if you had tons and tons of herbivores damaging your plants and no carnivores were showing up to gobble up the herbivores.
I haven't seen any ladybugs, but I have green lacewing larvae everywhere.
The amount of pests are incredible. Even thrips on my potted seedlings. I'm thinking of pulling the endives from the raised bed and solarizing the soil and planting something later. As I dig ground for the tomato plants I dispense of parsley worms being careful not to disturb things too much for the beneficial bugs. My pepper plant is almost completely gone. I keep going outside in the wee hours of the morning and picking off everything I can find (on the endives, too) but as soon as I get it cleared more worms come up or more aphids move in. Incredible. The peppers? They're not in the ground. They're on the porch in a pot!
LOL My tallest Alaskan pea plant is about 12" high in that same raised bed. It sprouted a flower last night. LOL
Please tell me this is not normal!
How many years before this all balances out?
Leslie, I love green lacewings. I've seen a few here, but not as many as usual yet. I am wondering if they are having a hard time bouncing back from the drought. Usually when I have this many pests, I have tons of green lacewings.
Bon, To the extent that anything here is normal or abnormal in our erratic climate, this is not normal in most years. We had a mild winter, and the last freeze was very early, and the pest bugs came out in great profusion, followed soon thereafter by the ladybugs, green lacewings and other predator insects.
I never have seen as many pest insects as I'm seeing this year. We have thousands of moths just on the acre closest to the house. Their caterpillars are chewing up everything in and out of the garden. I spent time today hand-picking caterpillars off my tomato plants and larkspur. I've never had cat damage on larkspur before.
I've never sprayed a broad spectrum pesticide here, and never will because it will hurt a lot of the good guys, but if ever in my life I've been tempted to use one, it is this year, this month, this week. If rain wasn't in the forecast for the next 4 or 5 days, I'd spray garlic barrier spray and see if it helps. Since rain is coming, I'll wait for the rainy days to pass and then I'll spray.
How long it takes to develop a balanced ecosystem where you have a permanent population of good bugs to help take care of the bad bugs will vary quite a bit depending on how many people around you use broad-spectrum pesticides, among other things. Here at our place, we moved here in 1999 and I think I saw a huge decrease in bad bugs around 2006. We had been gradually moving towards that, but it was in 2006 that I didn't see any green lacewings. Not a one. Finally, I realized that the reason I wasn't seeing them was because I didn't have a big enough population of bad bugs to attract them. Prior to that year, we'd had green lacewings simply everywhere. Since then, I only see a few. I hope I will see more this year than I'm seeing now because the pest population is so high it is off the charts.
If I have to, I'll buy lacewings and release them. I'll wait a while to see if enough show up on their own.
I am seeing tons of bugs I've never seen before and have no idea what they are. I think it is going to be an interesting year, but perhaps in a bad way.
Normally we see very few, in any, Japanese Beetles in my part of Oklahoma, but people in northeastern and eastern OK seem to have a lot of them every year. I sure hope this isn't the year the JBs find us down here in southcentral OK.
I have a bunch of lady bugs ABD their larva on my lettuce and radishes. Don't remember ever having such a nice family of them before.
Haven't really had that many more pests. Less aphids, actually.
I saw the lady bugs all over my bolted cilantro today. Hover flies and syrphid flies, too!
I looked up from a location I was weeding and noticed the treeline above. There were hordes of May bugs waiting to "ripen" before flight! I am not looking forward to that.
One of the kids left the screen door open too late and moths got in. I think I saw a lacewing. I remember seeing them around here before. Yay! All I have left are leeks and tomatoes. Well, there's what's left of the pepper plants. Even the mint is under attack but that stuff grows so prolifically (in pots, btw. lol)
I picked up that lady bug I found and put her on my leeks. She did a good job. lol
Good news: All the areas of my tomato plants where I used a lot of aged compost are fighting well. They are in much better shape. They're all tomatoes, though. A couple died under trials. I can't dig fast enough.
Potato plants are growing like crazy. It was difficult to keep burying them every day as the stalks rose. But they're at their max now so let them spuds grow.
I have found a couple of very distinct grubs while digging and I believe they were Japanese. Killed those buggers!
I'm not going to use pesticides. I'll stick with good varieties. I'm considering BT, though, because the worms are destroying everything but probably not until next year . I need to let nature do it's thang, first and continue my composting atop the garden bed. It will take all year for that. It's just frustrating.
PATIENCE gah! I tell everyone I have become an expert at harvesting bugs. hehe
Today I found lady bug larvae all over bindweed sprouts that had nothing open but seed leaves. I told the larvae to go find pests on something else because the bindweed sprouts were headed for the compost pile. I've seen hover flies and syrphid flies around the sweet alyssum and yarrow.
It was pretty windy today and green caterpillars were falling from the sky into my garden. I think the wind was blowing them out of nearby trees. Either that or it was raining caterpillars.
You know. I, too, have noticed much bindweed attempting to grow. Really, it's more like determined to grow no matter what and this is in regularly mowed areas.
I found the bulk of those darned parsley worms. They were hiding under creeping charlie cover just outside the garden bed. Yay! The charlie was going to seed so I decided to rip them out by the roots in a 5 inch swatch surrounding the beds and there they ALL were including salamanders, predator spiders but, especially, all those darned parsley worms (about 25 of them that I saw and promptly fed to the birds). I'm certain the birds will have a field day with this new clearing I made.
While I'll admit the lack of cleanliness helped create the problem it also drew in all the wonderful predator critters as I was hoping and you continuously suggested! Now they know where everything is and I can keep it tidier. I dug a hole under the wood bed frame and suggested the little salamander make his home there. He promptly agreed. I even spotted a butterfly happily foraging on the blossom of that puny (now 12") pea vine. Just an uplifting day after the storm and not a minute sooner. I was really beginning to lose my patience.
And what, exactly, is it about storms that causes a jump in growth? I know it's not the water because they can receive as much water without the storm.
Here's a giggle: My 4 yo is impatient with flowers so I decided to plant these morning glory seeds I purchased. having looked up on line I see they are actually highly invasive - a species of bindweed. I'll be using pots and burn the buggers at the end of the season, but you can giggle at my struggles to come. hahaha
I think once you have bindweed on your property you're likely to have it forever. I believe the seeds are viable for up to 50 years. I don't have any of the well-established perennial bindweed that drives gardeners in some areas crazy, but have seedlings pop up everywhere all the time. If yours keeps growing back from mowing, you may have a perennialized one that has roots everywhere. I just pull them and pull them and pull them, usually while they are only at the seed leaf stage. If you ever let one bindweed plant get established, it will put down deep roots and you'll never be able to get rid of it.
I plant parsley in the veggie garden for the caterpillars (because we love the Eastern Black Swallowtails) and in a pot near the house for us. If I see cats on the parsley in the pot outside the house, I move those cats to the parsley in the garden. I never could do anything to those parsley worms because they become such beautiful butterflies. I am a sucker for butterflies. This year they've been eating my carrots and I've been letting them. I just had to choose between the carrots and the butterflies, so I choose the butterflies. Eating home-grown carrots will not make me nearly as happy as having Eastern Black Swallowtails flitting around.
Early in the season, the insects that are herbivores and that we think of mostly as pests show up first and multiply first. So, for the first month or two of warm weather, it seems like the bad bugs are winning. With time, though, and a little help from all our garden helper friends including beneficial insects, reptiles, amphibians, bats and birds, the numbers of the herbivores start coming down.
One thing that amazes me is the inconsistency of it all. One year we'll have a million Colorado potato beetles, and the next year we'll have none. It is the same way with squash bugs or squash vine borers or blister beetles. Unfortunately, I cannot remember a single summer without stinkbugs, so I guess they are a more consistent pest than most others. I just try to ignore the bug damage in April and May while the beneficials are getting established and growing their population. Some years it takes a whole lot of patience to do that.
It is the nitrogen the plants get from lighting that causes a growth jump in plants.
Exactly what kind of morning glory seeds did you buy? I grow lots of cultivated morning glories, but nothing that is like bindweed.
Now, click on the link to see the butterflies you won't have flying around in your garden and yard because the caterpillars became Bird Chow. : )
About 20 years ago I started partially gardening for the butterflies (meaning that I stopped automatically killing all caterpillars) because my son, who was quite young at the time, adored the hummingbird moths that spend their larval time as hornworms. As time went on, I had to let more and more caterpillars live so we could have all the beautiful butterflies and moths. There are times when there is so much caterpillar damage that I think about getting out some Bt and spraying the garden, but then I don't do it because I enjoy having butterflies all around me in the yard and garden from sunrise to after sunset. It was a really hard step to take to stop spraying tomato plants for hornworms. It was easier to stop spraying plants like fennel or dill or parsley so we could have swallowtails.
I guess I try to garden in harmony with nature as much as I can, but that's not to say I won't kill a pest that is a huge problem. On my "kill 'em if you see 'em list" are squash vine borers/the clearwing moths who lay their eggs, grasshoppers if in present in large numbers, squash bugs, corn earworms and European corn borers, spider mites, imported cabbage worms and cabbage loopers, leaf-footed bugs and stink bugs, Colorado Potato Beetles and Mexican Bean Beetle larvae. Pretty much everything else I just try to ignore with a sort of "live and let live" attitude. I don't care for the cucumber beetles but we have about 500 trillion of them all over the property every summer and I couldn't do anything to control their numbers if I tried. They never were a problem for me in Fort Worth, but I was in an old, well-established neighborhood that hadn't been rural in over 40 years, and at our place where we built our house here, it is still rural so we have lots of pests that I never saw in town.
I should do something more than spray plants with neem when spider mites hit. I might use Avid this year since it is OMRI-approved. I have used a fire ant killer with its active ingredient and find it highly effective. With spider mites migrating from unmowed pastures around us every summer, they are a problem every year no matter the weather, and seem to arrive earlier every year.
I have developed a huge appreciation for spiders since moving here. I'll still kill every black widow and brown recluse I see, but will leave the spiders alone otherwise. Every spider is worth its weight in gold and more because they catch oodles and oodles of other insects in their webs.
Here is a link that might be useful: Eastern Black Swallowtail
The Black Swallowtail is the large butterfly that I see most this time of year. I don't know what he is feeding on in my yard, but I do have a few carrots in a tub where my container tomatoes are planted. My other carrots that I kind of got by accident, are at the edge of a raised bed that has squash in it and it is covered with Agribon, so they can't reach that one.
I don't usually plant very much dill, but what I do plant always seems to have caterpillars on it.
We have tons and tons of spiders, more than anywhere else I have lived. Most of us power wash our houses at least once a year to remove the unsightly webs that they leave all over. Don't worry, there is no shortage of spiders in Grove.
We have had two large rains this week, and the broccoli and onions seem to like it better than anything else and both look like they have grown a lot this week. When I uncovered my tomatoes today, I noticed that the broccoli has some leaf damage. The ground still had standing water so I didn't try to identify the pest. I usually don't do anything about a pest on them because except for a few little green worms they don't seem to have enough pests to bother them. I don't usually see the worms until I harvest. Some years I don't see any and other years, during the washing process, I submerge the broccoli in salted water for a while, a few float to the top.
I hate the fact that when I google butterflies on the web, the sites I get are the tatoo parlors. That is certainly NOT what I am looking for when I want to read about butterflies. LOL
Carol, The Easter Black Swallowtails eat lots and lots of stuff, including dill, fennel, parsley, cilantro, carrots, parsnips and the wild Queen Anne's Lace. Those are the plants on which I am most likely to find them in my yard, garden and pastures, and I am sure there's oodles of other stuff they eat.
I read somewhere that in fairly undisturbed property, you can have a million spiders an acre. I've never tested that by trying to conduct a census of the spider population on our land. We have all kinds, including some that make webs down low on the ground, and others that make webs way up high that go from one tree to another. They're pretty interesting to watch.
Most of the rain has missed us, with less than a quarter-inch in recent days, and I am glad. We've been too wet for too long. I am glad y'all got the moisture you needed.
If I hand-pick the first couple of rounds of cabbage worms that show up, I usually won't have many more. Sometimes we only have a few and I don't bother about removing them, but other years we have tons of them. I don't have many cat issues in the summer because the beneficial wasps take care of them. I normally only have cat issues in earlier parts of spring when the beneficial wasp population hasn't increased enough yet.
To get the right kind of butterflies, just google Lepidoptera!
I think these are just standard moths. They don't have any brilliant colors but are mostly brown and greyish.
I went to take a picture and found some six-legged brown bugs. Kinda fat on the belly-side with a tough exterior. Maybe tarnish bugs.
I came back in and discovered the flashcard wasn't in the camera.
The morning glories are el cheapo from Walmart. It reads "Grandpa Ott"from American Seed company. These are deep purple and we LOVE purple. hehe It's refreshing. They seem to grow in regular soil and vigorously, too.
@Carol my broccoli (abandoned) is responding the same.
OH I noticed tiny patches of clover going to seed. I am SO happy to see it recovering.
We have some of the most beautiful white butterflies. I know they are bad for brassies but they are just STUNNINGLY gorgeous. You know. Those with just a touch of color on the bottom section? Beautiful.
Bon, Grandpa Ott's is just your typical morning glory and likely will not give you the trouble that bindweed does. I grow Grandpa Ott's every year. I only planted it once or twice, but it reseeds vigorously here (as do every other morning glory I've ever grown) so I've had it every year since then. I love both morning glories and moonflower vines and often grow them right on the veggie garden fence, but they will leave behind a lot of seed that may sprout where you don't want them. I just pull them aggressively and often if they are popping up where I don't want them.
While I like butterflies and moths in general, there are a few I'm not happy to see--and those cabbage whites are among the ones I'd rather not see. The cabbage white population seems especially heavy right now.
Well, that's good news. I have an 1/8th of an acre. I suppose some things that would be considered invasive in a regular city environment isn't going to be such a bother out here. The family is looking forward to the blossoms so I guess that's really all that matters. Sounds like just a few good tugs would end its perpetuation.
You see this old pen ruling machine? We have three of them from the old book bindery. Beautiful wood work. Bill set one up as a giant planter and I would love to have it chock full of pretty flowers and climbing varieties running up those posts. He installed some slats on either end of the extension as potting shelves.
"Hickock Pen Ruling Machine"
While I've gotten it figured out, here's a picture of home. You can see the giant planter in the back, the raised beds where the endives (much larger now) are getting eaten up and you can also see the North face of the house that is now missing the English Ivy. THAT'S why I'm worried about invasive species because the base of those four ivies were at least 8" thick! I don't need to explain to you why it had to come down! For now only potted plants sit inside the planter. I haven't decided what dirt to use in filling it up. And that's the hardening off porch. I get a perfect amount of sunlight on this East side - just enough in the morning and good indirect sunlight for the rest of the day.
There are a lot of other pictures there, too, of just the garden taken about a month ago when the ground was soaked.
Since I abhor this city as much as I do, I've decided to do it up in pictures.
The lady bugs are showing up here. I see the insects have hit some of the wheat fields around here. I had read where this might be a bad insect year due to the mild winter temps around here. The NWS around here are saying we are moving from a La Nina cycle into a neutral and then an El Nino cycle. I will just continue to play it by my gut feeling. But at least better news than when NOAA said a month ago our drought would persist or get worse. Jay
Bonnie, Is there a reason you abhor your city so much? I just wonder.....what is it about living there that you don't like?
Jay, I've been watching La Nina slowly fade away and I am hoping for a long neutral period before an El Nino develops. Most of the time, when we have a strong El Nino, we get far too much rain here at our house. Of course, after last year, it would be hard to think any amount of rain would be too much after we went so long with so little.
Your weather can only get better after the last few years of drought. I have been a little surprised at how quickly the U. S. Drought Monitor took y'all out of D-3 drought and back to D-2.
I am probably seeing 4 times as many insects this year as in a typical spring, but some years are just that way and we'll deal with it however we can. Over the wet winter apparently many fire ants moved up out of the wet ground into my molasses tub containers and other smaller pots, so every time I attempt to plant into a container, I first have to go to war with the fire ants. My container-planting is going slow because of that.
I hope your drought goes completely away, 100%, and that you get to have a normal year or two before it returns. It will seem strange to look at the Drought Monitor map and see your area back completely out of drought, but I think it may happen this year.
Willfull ignorance and corruption, sir.
I cannot go into details lest you be connected and my life suffer retribution.
But as long as we pay the thugs fees, we're good to go. We just can't live like normal folks. Too expensive.
Eventually, we'll get out. We've tried and will try again.
I was digging a hole for a tree today when I noticed hundreds of little red dots in the soil. How wonderful! Lady bugs are sure special.
For two days I have seen bugs (beetles, I guess) on a plant in my back fence. I tried to get a picture, but they didn't turn out very well, and I can't find any of the bugs tonight. I would still like to know what they were.
They were dark orange and black, about as wide as a lady bug but more oval shape than a lady bug. Their back is dark orange, almost red, and they have four triangular shapes on their back that meet in the middle of their back given a diamond effect. On both genders the color of the triangle shape on their back is mostly the orange color, but on the other two triangles one gender was mostly orange, and on the other one it was mostly black. From a distance I thought they were lady bugs, but up-close they were larger and had different markings. Who knows what I am describing?
Carol, here is a link to a website for ID'ing butterflies and some moths. I've linked you to the Oklahoma database.
Here is a link that might be useful: Butterflies and Moths of N.A.-Oklahoma
Oops! I gave you the direct link to Black Swallowtail and I mean to give you the link to the checklist. Here it is:
Here is a link that might be useful: Butterflies and Moths of N.A.-Oklahoma Checklist
Sooner, I've had a hard time identifying what I'm seeing - especially wire worms! There are so many different wire worms in my yard it's driving me crazy because I don't want to kill the beneficial ones as today when I was outside my garden plot and saw a six inch wire worm with black shells trimmed in a cream color. Heck, I saw a wire worm when we first cut ground. It was dead and I'm not kidding when I say the cut piece that I saw was six inches long. How long was that bugger? It was black and orange!