Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ode to bugs

I am learning.  It may take me a little longer than some people to figure things out, but I think I'm a pretty smart cookie and I usually get there eventually.  

I used to hate aphids.  They are so gross looking, right?  And I used to battle them.  I'd spray them with hard bursts of water to get them off the affected plants and I'd try insecticidal soap.  None of it was very effective.  And once, as I hang my head in shame, I specifically remember spraying some lupines with Seven.  Then one day, I just gave up.  "Screw it, let the aphids have everything!" I said to myself. 

 This year I have a patch of yarrow that planted itself in the corner of the yard next to the neighbors fence.  I noticed it was completely infested with aphids, but I didn't care.  Then I noticed some lady beetles on it and thought they'd never eat all those aphids.  Then later I saw that there were a whole lot of lady beetle larvae climbing all over the patch and I started to pay close attention.  On looking today, there is not a single aphid on that yarrow to be found.  And when I say it was infested with them, I mean every stem was covered with them from top to bottom.  I've never seen anything like it.

So there is the moral of that story: Leave the bad bugs alone and the good ones will come.

More about bugs: It looks like we are back in the caterpillar raising business.  I did this last year; brought in butterfly eggs and cats and raised them into butterflies and then released them.  I wasn't going to do it this year.  It's a lot of work and someone has to be around all the time to keep them fed and to release them when they emerge from their cocoons.  We did have a few Black Swallowtail cats on the dill in the garden, but every single one has been eaten by an industrious bird.  So, I caved and we've now started collecting the Monarch cats.  They are fun to watch.  The kids love it.  And it feels good to be saving a few beautiful lives.

No comments: