Friday, August 21, 2009

Bugging me in the garden

Today I thought I would write a post about what's bugging me in the garden (Sorry for the use of the pun). Surprising to many people one of the things that bugs me is that I don't have enough insects. I'm lacking in diversity and sheer numbers in most categories. Bees and wasps are showing up in good number, though. Hopefully as my garden ages and the pesticides the previous homeowner used are diluted away I'll start seeing more.

Is this bee bugging me? Heck, no. I like bees in the garden - they help pollinate my vegetables! Look how this one's leg sacs are full of pollen. Bees are in a lot of trouble, both the native and the introduced honey bee. Part of the problem is overuse of pesticides (are you detecting a theme by this blogger?), part is (like most wildlife) habitat destruction. The bees are welcome on my Pycnanthemum muticum (mountain mint).

How about this wasp? Is it bugging me? No, look at the brilliant sheen on the wings, it's a dark blue when the light hits it just right. With blue being one of my favorite colors how could I not like such a beautiful creature?

OK, how about THIS wasp? Don't be ridiculous. Look at the contrast between the orange and the black. This is a total Halloween wasp and I like high contrast and Halloween. This gorgeous girl is welcome on my Bronze Fennel.

Well, surely THIS wasp bugs you? Nope. Look closely and you'll see the tiny wasp waist. Looks unreal doesn't it? Wasps occur in a group called Hymenoptera (along with bees and ants). This order is known for it's interesting social structures and for being beneficial to the home gardener. I've already mentioned pollination but they also predate on many harmful insects and ants are great at loosening the soil.

So we've determined that Hymenoptera are welcome in my garden (except for yellow jackets, who are too aggressive and since my husband is allergic they have to go), what about other bugs. Oh, wait. Hymenoptera are not bugs, they're INSECTS. Bugs refers to a specific group of insects. I haven't yet found any bugs in my new garden.

One thing that is bugging me in the garden are the dragonflies. Not because they are there but because they are being so difficult to photograph! I caught this one resting on the host and was able to get one shot (a grab shot) before it flew off.

I have several species of dragonfly flitting around my yard all afternoon, blue, green, black and white, some HUGE ones that must be 6 inches and fly around the roof of my house at dusk, but these last two are the only ones who held still for a good photo session. I guess I'll have to keep trying.

Oh, yeah. What's bugging me is that I never took an entomology class in college and don't know much about insects. Maybe I'll have to go back and take one as continuing education. I wonder if Harvard has an entomology class...

I'll leave you with more dragonfly photos from my cooperative pair.

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