Chasing Butterflies

I’ve kept to my watering and weeding routine and also stayed busy getting a short story (dark fantasy) ready for a national contest. In my ‘down’ time, I’ve been chasing butterflies. Here’s one. Double click on the photo to see the detail. Lovely wings and lovely spotted body.

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Early Signs of Fall? And Another Question…

I walked out to the garden this foggy morning and found this lovely, dew sparkled spiderweb on my plum tree. I tried to capture it with my camera. If you click to enlarge the photo, you can see the individual dew drops.

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Signs of early fall – chrysanthemums in bloom.

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A second crop of pink balsam starting.

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Acorns on my pin oaks.

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And now for the second question. I noticed these eggs on many, many pin oak leaves. Can anyone identify them? Are these “good” insects or gross insects? Hoping to learn before I pull on my “big girl panties” and start brushing them off the leaves.

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Squash Bugs – Gross!!

The squash bug infestation has destroyed my Delicata squash. So nasty and so sad. I’ve asked what I can do about it now, looking to my experienced gardener and master gardener friends; the simplest suggestion was to spray the area with diatomaceous earth.

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You may know that squash bugs or Anasa tristis, order Hemiptera, are common pests of squash, pumpkins and melons, all belonging to the cucurbit family. Cucumbers are also cucurbits, and it now seems likely that my difficulty with cucumbers this year was due to squash bugs. Yuck.

For those who don’t know me well, I have a little phobia going on regarding insects and especially bugs. Thanks to Lenora Larson for patiently explaining the difference! I’m learning to have a little more respect and a little less startle reflex to insects. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to bugs.

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So, squash bugs. How to kill them? I attended a Miami County Extension Office class about pest management, presented by Raymond Cloyd, Ph.D. from Kansas State University. He talked about removing the eggs (too late for that), using oil sprays on the nymphs (too late for that) and – finally – using a vacuum to remove the squash bugs.

Really? I just don’t want bugs in my vacuum… An article on the K-State Extension site says this: “Squash bugs are not equally susceptible to insecticide treatments at all developmental stages.” And goes on to say that insecticides are most effective against earliest instar nymphs. The same article suggests a variety of insecticides timed correctly, although taking care not to harm other, beneficial insects like bees, is important.

To prevent another infestation next year, I’m going to plant something else in that bed, although I haven’t decided what quite yet. I’m open to suggestions.

I may try planting a trap crop of Delicata squash since the bugs seem to adore it. I have cantaloupe planted in the same bed and have seen nary a bug on any of the cantaloupe leaves or vines!

Meanwhile, I sprinkled some diatomaceous earth on the squash because first, I bought it and have it, and second, it can’t hurt. From my perspective, the squash bugs do not like diatomaceous earth and started churning around, trying to get away.

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I really can’t think about bugs any more today. Thanks for reading!

Who’s Been Eating My Veggies?

We now harvest tomatoes and cucumbers daily. And while I freeze and pickle as fast as I can, we’ve started putting together bags for Jim’s golfing buddies. No one’s told us to stop yet…

On the plus side, we have lovely cantaloupe ripening. We read information from a multitude of .edu websites and I checked-in with my master gardener friend, Lenora. Cantaloupe are ripe when they slip off the vine. So true. I picked one up last week and it literally fell into my hands.

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Then came the acid test. Yum! We get pretty good melons from the Farmer’s Market, but not like this…

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On the down side, I’ve fed an entire generation of butterflies or moths – or so it seems. Just look!

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I’ve had enormous difficulty with “cole” vegetables this year, including lettuce, radicchio, and broccoli. I have some ornamental kale – same family – and the leaves look like lace. I feel a little like Mama Bear: Who’s been eating my broccoli?

Tomorrow night I’m going to a class on garden pests, and I’m looking forward to finding out what to do to prevent this from happening again next year.

Watching my zinnias has been fun, especially looking for different kinds of butterflies. But I found this little hopper on my zinnias the other day. Not so happy to see him.

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Last but not least, I found hundreds of what I can only imagine to be squash beetles swarming – yes, swarming – over my Delicata squash plants. I ran for the camera but by the time I got back, nary a one. Hmmm…

The squash still on the vine seem okay, but the vines are dying back. The University of Colorado has some interesting things to say about squash bug management, including using less rather than more mulch. I plan to relocate the squash and melons next year, so that may help solve the problem.

My hope for next year? Better understanding of what to do about insects so that I get to eat more of what I plant.