Meet the Beetles!

Flowers from Rheinstetten, Germany are blooming in my Friendship Garden!

Seeds of friendship, from Rheinstetten, Germany, are blooming in my Friendship Garden!

 

Hi Friends!

True confessions today!  There are things happening in our garden every day  that  I don’t understand!

Our August garden is filled with an abundance of color, form, and texture. Healthy perennials are in full bloom and the herbs have been thriving during our Midwest summer this year. An early morning walk amongst the flowers is the perfect way to begin each day.

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While walking through the garden this season, I’ve noticed something interesting in addition to the lovely flora. For the first time, in nearly thirty years of gardening, I’m really noticing the fauna, too! The insects, to be exact. How does this BIG change happen to a seasoned gardener?

According to the Journal of Experimental Botany, “Much scientific research is based upon investigating known unknowns.”

 

That must be what’s happening to me! There are things in my garden that I know I don’t know much about!  

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Gardening from two different perspectives…. I notice the colorful flowers everywhere, while my husband notices the colorful insects everywhere!

It must be the “Marriage Effect” that has encouraged my curiosity!  My husband  always walks through our garden each evening when he arrives home. He seems to notice all of the insects everywhere, busily pollinating the flowers. Another influence is our nephew, currently working on his PhD. in Entomology, collecting and studying beetles. When he visits our garden, he observes all kinds of fascinating creatures. What is it about these tiny living things that attract their attention, making them stop, look, touch, and study them with such great fascination?

I must confess, dear friends, that the insects in our garden have always been a mystery to me. I cannot distinguish most of the beneficial insects from the harmful insects! I spend time in the garden each day (wearing garden gloves of course, in case I accidentally touch these creatures!)…  and I don’t even know who they are! Of course, I know the common ones ~ mosquitoes, spiders, cicadas, fireflies,…  but I didn’t even know the beetles until quite recently!

I have taken action! I have been reading the most fascinating, helpful book!

Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden by Jessica Walliser (Timber Press, 2014)

Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden by Jessica Walliser (Timber Press, 2014)

 

A new book, by horticulturist Jessica Walliser, has been my frequent gardening companion throughout the growing season. Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden is helping me understand what makes my organic flower and herb gardens insect-friendly, and why this is so very important. This easy-to-read guide has made me aware of so many ways that insects are good for my garden! As I read, there have been so many ‘ah-ha’ moments…

Did you know…

⚛   Only 1 percent of the insects we encounter are harmful.

⚛   Each insect has a purpose in the garden: pollinator, predator, decomposer, or food for the other creatures in the food chain.

⚛   It’s important to select, place, and care for a variety of plants that will invite beneficial insects into the garden to control the harmful pests.

 

Author Jessica Walliser explains, in her own words…

 

I’ve learned why it is necessary to…

⚛   Take myself out of the predator-prey cycle in my garden.

⚛   Create a diverse, pesticide-free environment for beneficial insects. Fortunately, our garden has always been pesticide-free. Now I understand just how important that is! Systemic pesticides contaminate the nectar, killing many insects. When the beneficial insects are wiped out, the pests will have no enemies in the garden!

⚛   Have some pests in the garden. Fewer pests in the garden means fewer beneficial insects.

⚛   Create a garden with a diversity of plants so that beneficial ‘commuters’ will stay in our garden. The farther they must travel to find food, shelter, and water,  the less likely they are to return to our garden.

 

The more I learn about the insects in our garden,… the more I want to learn!

 

I’ve ‘met’ a few of  the Beetles this summer. Our garden is teeming with them! Many are beneficials in the garden. One exotic species, imported from another continent, poses a real problem in the garden since it has very few predators here. So gardeners have to step in to control this pest.

 

Soldier Beetles are beneficial predators, consuming pests, while they carry pollen from flower to flower.     {Photo Credit}

 

Japanese Beetles are destructive pests to over 200 species of plants in North America, where they have few predators. They destroy the foliage and fruits of rose bushes, fruits, canna, maple trees, linden trees, and numerous common plants. Traps have not been very effective, often attracting more Japanese Beetles which damage nearby host plants. Manually removing them from the leaves of plants is important, since the presence of Japanese Beetles attracts more of them. Using a soapy-water spray, shaking the leaves in the morning hours, and picking up the fallen Japanese Beetles are also ways to control their damage in the garden.     {Photo Credit}

 

Ladybug Beetles are beneficial predators in the garden. They eat aphids, mites, mealybugs, whiteflies, and scale on plants.  Learn more about the declining Ladybug population in North America due to the multi-colored Asian Ladybug.  Visit:  Lost Ladybug Project.      {Photo Credit}

 

 

 

Ground Beetles are nocturnal predators, consuming more than their body weight of mites, slugs, and other pests. During the day, they hide under rocks and logs, waiting for the cover of darkness to do their beneficial work in the garden.   {Photo Credit}

 

I know that I will reread Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden again and again, soaking up all of the useful plant profiles, beneficial bug profiles, and tips for battling harmful pests with helpful plant partnerships. Fortunately, our garden is healthy with a wide diversity of plants that help encourage the predator-prey insect cycle. As I add new perennials to the garden beds, I will strive to plant those that attract even more beneficial insects to our garden.

It feels so good to learn about these tiny creatures that travel from plant to plant! There is an important new item in my garden basket this summer…

I have added a new tool to my gardening basket this summer. Can you find it?

I have added a new tool to my garden basket this summer. Can you find it?

 

It’s handy to have a magnifying glass nearby, just in case I want to take a closer look at the tiny creatures in the garden. I’m quite curious now…  However, I’ll still be wearing garden gloves, just in case I happen to touch one of these interesting insects!

 

It’s always lovely to welcome friends to our garden. Thanks for stopping to visit today!

Scatter sunshine!

♡ Dawn

P.S.   What is yourknown unknown”…  something that you know that you don’t know much about, but would like to learn?

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12 thoughts on “Meet the Beetles!

  1. Good morning Dawn! HELLO! I am so happy to finally be back on-line; my internet was out for three days and I am so behind in my visits that I LOVE.

    What a glorious summer this is. I went back to school yesterday and the kids are wonderful. But it is still summer outside, and we want to frolick and play!

    I love how you described your husband’s arrival from work. My husband too finds great joy in walking through the garden after a long day of stress. Our home and garden is our refuge.

    I have noticed that this has been the most GORGEOUS summer I’ve ever seen. We have had more rain here than I can remember, and I’ve also noticed bugs and other fauna that I’ve never seen before. Maybe it’s ME, finally growing up to notice more, or it’s mother nature shifting things around, but you are so right to highlight the responsibilities of each creature in the garden. Without them, we would not have such an array of life. Our neighbor has the most magical garden. She planted butterfly-friendly plants and every time you walk past her place, you are greeted by fluttering joy. OH THE LOVE!

    OK, now I have to run off to my first class! LOVE! Anita

  2. Good Morning, Anita! It’s so nice to hear from you! I thought of you yesterday, knowing that it was your first day of school. Wishing you a wonderful year with your students. They are most fortunate to have such an inspiring teacher! Here’s to the excitement and promise of ‘new beginnings!’
    I think you would also enjoy the book Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden! I also have a small collection of books about creating a Butterfly Garden. We take special joy when butterflies flutter by! Have a wonderful day, Anita! ♡

  3. Yes, our gardens are full of bugs and critters! I do try to learn as much as I can, and encourage the good ones as much as humanly possible ~ but I recently found out that not all ladybirds are good! Here in the UK we are being invaded by Harlequins, which are Asian in origin and have come in to the UK on imported goods. Harlequins look very similar, but are about 2mm larger than our native ladybirds and, while they do an excellent job at aphid control, once the aphids are gone they turn on our natives as their food source! I guess these are my new known unknown!
    One of the best investments for any gardener is a book, such as yours, to aid in the identification of the good guys and the bad guys!
    Waving from Across The Pond ~~~ Deb in Wales ~~~

  4. Hi Deb! It’s so true. The multi-colored Asian ladybugs are also creating big problems in North America. Native ladybugs are facing many challenges now. I’ve been reading about the Lost Ladybug Project and their effort to track ladybugs across North America: http://www.lostladybug.org
    Wishing you a nice day in your garden today! Waving back! ♡

  5. Hi, Dawn – so smart to keep the pesticides out of your beautiful garden and lawn. One of the big causes of the decline in our bee population is the widespread use of garden pesticides containing neonicotinoids (aka neonics), I’ve been hearing my neighbors (organic gardeners) commenting on the lack of bees, even with another neighbor with beehives. Thanks for being part of the solution!

  6. Good morning, sweet Dawn! UGH!!!!! Japanese Beetles are my nemesis! Daily I am out in the yard (several times) picking them off my plants and (sadly) drowning them in soapy water. They have totally destroyed my basil plant….attack my roses and hibiscus….ate down to a skeleton my porcelain vine to the point that it looked so ratty I had to cut it all down. I wonder where they came from?! It’s only been the past couple of years that we’ve seen them….now we can’t get rid of them! I love that your husband walks around your gardens when he gets home from work! Greg and I do that, too. Sweet thing to enjoy together, isn’t it? xo….Karen

  7. Hi Ginnie! Pesticide-free is the best way. It does take extra time and work in the garden, but it brings me such joy! Our ‘Blue Mist’ Bluebeard shrub is in full bloom and filled with many kinds of busy bees all day long. It’s fascinating to watch them at work! Yesterday I was just thinking that I should learn more about the bees in our garden. Yet another ‘known unknown’ for me! Have a lovely Labor Day weekend, Ginnie! ♡

  8. Hi Karen! Japanese Beetles are such a problem here, too! They seem to attract one another. So, wherever there are a few, more will come to join them! We have to be vigilant in taking them off the plants. Do you wear garden gloves? I always do… just in case I have to touch the insects! I guess I’m getting braver… Now I’m curious and want to learn about all of the little visitors to our garden! It’s fun to walk through the garden together, each noticing our favorite things and teaching one another about them! Have a lovely day, Karen! ♡

  9. Hi Aunt Dawn! 🙂
    I loved this post. My brother certainly made me want to learn more about bugs too! It’s so exciting that you’re learning more about them now too (like I am in my entomology class this semester). I miss your little garden. Hope the cooler weather is treating you well.
    Nora

  10. Hi, Nora! What a sweet surprise! It’s fun trying to keep up with my niece and nephew’s entomology expertise… little by little. It has been a wonderful gardening season this year! The flowers and herbs have been flourishing and keeping me very busy. So happy you stopped to visit, Nora! Have an amazing week! Big hugs! ♡

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