Please, Please, don’t eat the daisies… 🎶

A neighbor stopped by to look at my daisies. My daisies are pretty healthy, but her daisies, she said, were being mutilated by an insect. I asked her to email me a photo of the invader. Here’s what she sent:

The photos were small but I thought I knew what the insect was (‘was’ because it looks dead in the 3rd photo!).  Early the next morning, I searched for the same insect among my dew covered daisies. I saw two spider species lying in wait for an unsuspecting meal:

I saw tiny beetles:

Beetles on daisies 2019

A closer look:

beetle on daisy 2019

There was a whole world of small insects calling the daisies home:

Daisy insect 2019

And then I saw it… the same kind of bug that my neighbor saw and I knew these insects were NOT the ones vandalizing her daisies. These insects are True Bugs, insect predators called Jagged Ambush Bugs.

 

Thanks to Wikipedia Creative Commons for sharing a better photo of a jagged ambush bug than I could:

Wikipedia jagged ambush bug

The funky little insect looks like it could audition as a dragon on Game of Thrones but it really is a beneficial garden bug. It’s called an ambush bug because that’s what it does. Camouflaged well, it waits patiently, then ambushes a visiting insect up to 10 times its own size, injects poison, and make a fast meal out of it.

That’s all the news from the insect world this week. I should add that my neighbor was pleased when I shared the good news but I’m sure she is frustrated in not yet identifying the culprit that’s eating her daisies. So far, nothing new.

More thoughts on August

Summer seemed to last forever when I was a kid…barefoot and carefree. But when the sounds of cicadas filled the August skies, it was a sad signal that the start of school was around the corner. I’ve been vacillating about the month of August ever since, I guess. I know there are very good things about August though and I have to keep telling myself it’s okay. Summer’s ending, but it’s okay. Deep breath. It’s okay.

Good news about the month of August: It’s typically not as hot as July in New England. Overnight temperatures and humidity drop to comfortable levels for great sleeping. Late summer annuals are peaking. No air conditioning needed.

Bad news about August: We’ve been losing sunlight every day since the summer solstice in June but in August, it accelerates. We will lose two to three minutes of daylight each day. We will continue to lose daylight until the winter solstice in December and that can cause me a bit of the blahs. Doesn’t sunshine boost serotonin levels?

Good news about the last full month of summer: the rabbits are here to stay but we have come to an understanding. The neighbors are still having problems but they haven’t learned that a little cayenne pepper on the tips of favorite plants tend to be avoided by sharp teeth. And when they do snap off a bloom, I find they perform an overnight service. They decide what flowers are placed in the fresh flower jar each day. Today the rabbits selected a nice variety…. dill, allium, celosia and snapdragon. Not bad.

Cottontail arrangement 2019

Awkward Thing about August: Every year, each store I enter in August has displays of fall pumpkins, decor, and Halloween costumes. I’m not ready. It is disturbing to me, but it may be an age thing. One of my daughters has actually bought new Halloween costumes for the grands. Sigh…

Fall??

Best Things about August: the bounty of farm fresh corn, tomatoes, peaches. Often mister gardener will serve just a plate stacked high of sweet corn on the cob and fresh tomatoes for dinner. The season for these favorites will pass quickly and can we get enough? No.

Celebrity tomatoes 2019

Fun things about August: Late season cookouts, barbecues, and gatherings with friends and family and savoring every minute of the great outdoors. And I can be barefoot for the whole month!

Neighborhood potluck 2019

When September rolls around, I’ll be more optimistic about the glorious fall season to come and stop dwelling on the loss of summer. The kaleidoscope of fall colors, the crispness in the fall air, pumpkin patch visits with the grands, football, anticipation of Thanksgiving will spur me on.

August already….

Being outdoors can be a calming balm. It’s cathartic for me…. even with the looming disaster of climate change to which we all are a witness. And it’s a place to find a measure of solace after recent crises in El Paso and Dayton….one of which hit home as mister gardener was visiting family in Dayton on the very day.

Days of sunshine and dry weather are not a time for planting in our garden. We deadhead the daisies and clean out the yellowing leaves of daylilies and other plants. The hose comes out in early mornings to douse the plants in pots, refill the birdbaths, and perhaps refresh the tomatoes. I check everything that might flag under an afternoon sun and they get a drink. Water is VERY expensive in our town so we are prudent with it.

It’s a good thing to get lost in a garden or forest or meadow or waterway. We often drive the few miles to the beach, not to swim but watch and enjoy. And if we are lucky we might spot interesting things like this snowy owl resting atop a chimney next to the Atlantic in Rye NH.

And when we are home, here are some of the colorful blooms the insects, hummingbirds and I are currently enjoying.

Summer is slowly waning. We will continue to enjoy these colorful days in the garden, look forward to gatherings with friends and family, and try to tackle all those projects still uncompleted as the official end of summer, Labor Day, moves ever closer. Alas…