Now that the weather has warmed the insects have come out as well. Here in Maine they come in droves at certain times of the year, at the moment black flies are biting like crazy. They don’t stop my from working outside. For the most part insects don’t bother me too much, but I do get bit on occasion. When I do I grab a leaf off a broad leaved plantain, pop it in my mouth and chew it for a few seconds, then I put the poultice on my insect bite.
This works like a charm every time, it also works well for bee and wasp stings. If you’d like to read a fascinating collection of the historical uses of plantains head on over and check out this article.
Do you have a tried and true way to dealing with insect bites?Filed under Around the Garden, Herbs, Insects | Comments (9)
One day, Mr Chiots and I were sitting out back under the maple tree taking a break and we noticed this little guy walked across a log.
I grabbed my camera to take some photos so we could i.d. it. A quick google search leads us to believe it is the caterpillar of the white-marked tussock moth. From what I read, they defoliate trees and the birds love to eat them.
They’re rather interesting little caterpillars, so intricate with so many different kinds of hairy tufts.
This is one of the things I love about gardening, you get to see so many interesting thing, particularly insects. Check out this spider I spotted the other day. I told Mr Chiots that I found Shelob in the garden. It had a grasshopper all rolled up in it’s web.
You just never know what you’re going to see when you head out into the garden every day!
Have you spotted any beautiful insects recently?Filed under Around the Garden, Beneficial, Insects | Comments (10)
The deer flies have been TERRIBLE around here this year. Last week I worked in the garden one evening, when I came inside I had been bitten 6 times. One of the bites was on my eyelid. When I woke up the next morning my eye was pretty much swollen shut. The funny thing is that I also had a bite on my cheek on the same side, which was also swollen up about the size of a macaroon. That’s when I searched to find something that might work against them. I came across this post explaining how to build a deer fly trap.
I ordered up the supplies I needed: Tanglefoot Tangle-Trap Brush On Sticky Trap Coating and Blue Plastic Cups. Yes the cup needs to be blue!
All you do is brush the sticky coating on the blue cup and you pin them to your hat. Really, it’s that simple. At first I was worried that it would catch other flying insects as well, like bees, thankfully that didn’t happen.
Our first test of our hats was a trip down to the mailbox, which generally ended with us running back up the hill swatting the swarms of deer flies that were chasing us. Mr Chiots arrived at the house with 9 stuck to his cup and I had 5 stuck to mine. We wore them the entire next day and didn’t notice a deer fly all day. That evening the final count was: 13 deer flies on Mr Chiot’s hat and 9 on mine. They work like a charm.
What’s the biggest garden pest for you, the gardener?Filed under Insects, Miscellaneous, Pests | Comments (21)
Remember those pearly insect eggs I showed you on Sunday?
I checked on them on Tuesday evening and they had hatched. It looks like they are leaf footed insect nymphs just as I thought. The tiny little insects are just as beautiful as the eggs were, stunningly bright red.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of these little guys in my garden before. I probably have just never stopped long enough or been in the right place at the right time to see them.
I grew up in South America so I’ve seen my share of crazy insects. Yet nature never ceases to amaze me, especially when it comes to the insect world!
What’s the craziest insect or animal you’ve spotted in your garden?Filed under Insects | Comments (20)
Last year Mr Chiots and I installed a small pond in our garden. We filled it with goldfish and surrounded it with rocks and plants. Sadly our fish didn’t make it last summer but we did see the occasionally toad soaking in the pond. We let the leaves collect in the pond over the winter to get a good layer of natural muck in it before adding some new fish this spring. We figured this would make the water more like regular pond water. So far it seems to be working as our fish have survived longer than they did last year (last year they got the ick).
When I was out looking at the pond a week ago I noticed toad tadpoles – or toadpoles as we call them. It’s super excited to see the pond swimming with thousands of these little guys. Why was I so excited to see so many toadpoles?
Toads are one of the best forms of “organic” pest control that you can have in the garden. They eat slugs and many other common garden pests. When we first moved in, our garden were infested with slugs and earwigs. We didn’t want to use any chemicals, so layed a few boards in the flowerbeds to attract toads. The next year we saw a big toad and ever since then I rarely see a slug or an earwig.
To encourage toads to move into your garden place a few large flat rocks or small boards in your flowerbeds. Installing a small pond will also attract not only them but other beneficial things as well, like birds. Of course you’ll want fish to keep the mosquitos at bay. You don’t necessarily need the pond, but it sure does help if they have a spot to reproduce.
Toads appreciate moisture all season long, so if you make sure you have moist areas for them to encourage them to stick around. Perhaps you can keep one area of your garden watered more than others, add some water loving plants. You can also install simple water features for toads, beneficial insect and birds by placing a pot saucer on the ground filled with river stones. Make sure you dump out the water and add fresh each week to keep mosquitos from breeding (although mosquitos feed bats, hummingbirds and other animals so I don’t worry too much about them either).
Be warned, if you use any kind of treatment for slugs, even “organic” ones you can inadvertently kill toads, frogs, birds, and fish. So don’t use them if you’re trying to attract toads to your garden. Remember, if you want a beneficial insect or animal to move in you often have to allow the pest insect population to reach a certain level to attract them. You may lose a crop of something one year, but you’ll save so much time and money by not having to use pesticides (even organic ones). You’ll also end up with a healthier ecosystem in your garden, which in turn makes your plants healthier!
Do you have toads in your gardens? Do you do anything specific to attract them?Filed under Beneficial, Organic Gardening | Comments (9)