• 07Sep

    If these eggs aren’t the coolest thing ever, I don’t know. These are green lacewing eggs, and they hang on the little threads to keep them from eating one another when they hatch.

    Lacewing larvae look like funny little alligators, then turn into pretty green lacewings. The larvae are also called aphid lions, because they devour aphids. I am still amazed that one day, my butterfly weed was just covered in oleander aphids, the next day…gone. The lacewings and ladybugs had an end-of-summer feast.

    Here’s a creepy grasshopper that wouldn’t stop looking at me while I photographed the eggs. I probably should have killed him, but I didn’t have the heart for it.

    Am I the only person in the world who now LIKES the aphids? Instead of pests, I’ve begun to view these guys as food for my friends.

    These red aphids moved in as I was taking pictures, and then a few ladybug larvae marched on in and ate them.

  • 03Sep

    Wow! A few days ago I found the most unusual eggs on my butterfly weed. Little tiny white eggs, hanging from little hair-like threads. They were in perfect alignment, in rows, as if a little perfect army of warriors, waiting to hatch.

    My digital camera doesn’t take great pictures of tiny things like that, so I use my good equipment. But that’s film, which means I have to get it developed. I did get some pictures of the eggs, though and will post when I do. They’re cool. I had to google to find out what on earth they were.

    Oddly enough, the first year I went organic I bought lacewing eggs from Planet Natural. I didn’t know what I was doing, so they weren’t really appropriate for my problem of cucumber beetles and leafhoppers. But I followed the instructions, let them hatch into tiny little larvae, then pranced around and sprinkled my “fairy dust.” It was crazy good fun. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 18Jun

    I have a lot of different butterfly weeds in my back garden, and one species gets aphids that only feed on that, and on oleander. They’re yellow or orange, and really not a big deal. You can swipe them off with your fingers and squoosh them, or blast them off with a spray of water. Often, they don’t return.

    aph.jpg

    But who likes aphids? Why, the ladybugs do! So I was pondering whether or not to bother with getting rid of some of the aphids and I saw a ladybug having a feast. It really made me feel like my organic gardening had come full circle. One of the goals is to plant things that attract beneficial insects, who then feed on insects and larvae that can damage your plants.

    It’s one thing to plant all of these things, and see the beneficials fluttering around, but to actually see one at work, doing what you wanted her to do? It was so exciting – I was witnessing the whole plan in action. Letting Mother Nature keep things in balance. Then I saw a baby ladybug, probably just beyond the larval stage. Ladybug larvae are freaky looking, like colorful tiny alligators.

    So for now, unless they really get out of control, I’ve decided to let the aphids be. They don’t bother any other plant, and they’ve never caused any damage on the butterfly weed. To be honest, I think the clusters of them are kind of pretty. (Until you zoom in and see those freaky little black legs.)

  • 16May

    Update: The clay balls were a disaster. The little cat who must dig in everything scooped them all out and before I knew it, was playing in them as if they were a pile of mice. It was the biggest mess. So back to square one; I guess next I’m going to try a soiI-free pad thing I saw online.

    End of update.

    I had a great day at the organic store and not only got my guano, but I also got some earthworm castings and some little clay balls. Those are some kind of hydroponic thing (so far, every organic store I’ve gone to specializes in hydroponics), but I’m going to use them to grow cat grass. One of our cats gets frantic around any kind of soil or soil-like substance (like coir) and digs like a dog until she’s torn it all up. This is why I can’t have any live, reachable houseplants in the house, and it’s why she can’t go to the basement.

    I just hope she doesn’t think they’re balls to roll on the floor. We’ll see.

    Then while I was out that way, I went to a nursery I’d never visited, and was…disappointed. Big time. They had a nice website, and it looked a lot bigger than it is in person. I may be spoiled by the greenhouse near me that has acres of greenhouses.

    Anyway, this place had a listing of the available plants, and they had good prices it seemed. (And same supplier as “my” greenhouse, but half the price) First off, they *didn’t* have what I wanted, despite having said they have several varieties of a plant I want. Second, the lady I asked barely knew what a petunia was. Seriously, she was NEW to the gardening world. And anyone who might know where certain things were, or if they had them, was either off for the day, or on an errand.

    Third, their Asclepias incarnata plants were infested with aphids. Those little orange buggers were hopping around and having a blast. To be fair, these aphids aren’t a big deal and as far as I know, only go after this plant. If you grow it, you’ll get the aphids; it’s almost a certainty unless you live on Mars.

    On the other hand, all it takes is a blast of the water sprayer to get rid of them. I’ve never had them come back after one squirt. Perhaps it’s not unusual for a nursery to allow aphids on the Asclepias? I’ve never seen it before, but I actually only started growing this variety of Asclepias last year. (Successfully from seed, but this year, my seed didn’t germinate. I do think I have some growing in the ground…I’m not 100 percent sure. Crossing my fingers, though.)

    I got the aphids last year and got excited, thinking they were monarch eggs. They actually look delicious, like caviar. Every time I see a picture of the aphids, I get hungry for some caviar. Is that icky or what?

    But check it out: aphids on the left, salmon caviar on the right. And the aphids don’t always move around. That’s why I thought they were eggs at first.

    Aphids or Caviar?

    Here is Asclepias incarnata in bloom, mid summer:

    Asclepias incarnataAsclepias incarnata