Thursday, June 16, 2011

Good Garden Bugs

On every stem, on every leaf,... and at the root of everything that grew, was a professional specialist in the shape of grub, caterpillar, aphis, or other expert, whose business it was to devour that particular part.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

When you see a garden bug, what’s your first reaction? Squash it at all costs? Spray it? Or study it?

Today when I came home I spied this guy on my Pat Austin rose bush, just putting forth its first apricot blooms of the year. I’d seen these beetle like bugs flying and crawling around in the past few weeks but didn’t pay much attention to them, not knowing what they were. But today I saw one on this rose, at the buds which have been chewed and deformed. I wondered if it was the culprit, so I watched it. It appeared to be eating the aphids that were there also. Hmmm, is this a good guy, I wondered?

I watched more.

Have you ever just sat and watched a bug? It is fascinating. You should try it. If I hadn’t watched it I’d have assumed it was what caused all the damage…the chewed out base of the buds, the curled buds that will open to a deformed rose. But I watched. Ok, first I had to go find my magnifying ‘reader’ glasses, THEN I watched. For several minutes. It WAS eating the aphids! SWEET! Since I do not use chemical insecticides, I rely on beneficial insects like this and birds to keep the bad bugs under control.

If you look closely you might be able to see some webbing under the leafy green that is below the bug’s abdomen. THAT is the culprit of the bud damage…a worm of some kind (I need to look that up) who had eaten into the buds and spun a cocoon. I can see it moving in there. Fascinating.

So, I have this great bug book. The fabulous photographs and descriptions of Whiney Cranshaw’s book Garden Insects of North America tells me this bug is a Rove Beetle and that they are generally predators of insects, specifically root maggots, found in soil. Boy Howdy am I glad I didn’t jump to a disastrous conclusion and squash this sweet baby before I knew what it was. From now on the Rove Beetle, a beneficial insect, is my friend.

As for that cocoon spinning worm…as soon as Rove Beetle has had its fill and moved onto another smorgasbord I’ll be removing those deformed buds and squashing that worm…it is not my friend.

In bloom in my garden today: Allium shubertii, Alpine Strawberry,Alyssum, Aquilegia, Armeria pseudarmeria latifolia ‘joystick mix’,Baptisia, Blueberries, Brunnera macrophylla,Chives,Daphne caucasica ‘Eternal Fragrance’ and ‘Summer Ice,’ Daylily, Dianthus, Digitalis grandiflora, English daisy, Geum, Hardy Geranium, Heuchera , Iris, Lilac, Lobelia, Nepeta ‘six hills giant’ (catmint), Peas, Peony , Rose, Rosemary ‘hill hardy’, Salvia, Saxifraga , Solomon’s Seal, Tellima grandiflora (fringecup),Tomato, Vancouveria hexandra (inside out flower)

Authors photos


Cindy said...

OH I'm with you here on the study of the bugs I find.

ONE, we find them fascinating (with boys in the house)

and we never know if what we see is friend or foe so we watch, google and study.

That book sounds like a winner!

Glad you have a defender of your rose bush around!


Joan said...

Good for you Cindy! I'm glad you're teaching your boys to study and look them up...much better than the see and squash option.

ddzeller said...

Hi Joan, I just love this post! I wanted to link to your blog as a great garden post. Your pictures are soo cool!

Joan said...

Thank you DD!
I would consider it an honor to be linked from your blog. I love how you connect us to our local farmers who give us the freshest foods available! And your recipes are always healthy like I like it!