Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New insects in the garden.

I was out yesterday evening and I was visiting the mint patch to see what was buzzing about. This patch is driving me crazy and the only way I can keep myself from whacking the blooms off and mowing the whole thing down is by visiting it in the evenings when all the insects are visiting. It's gotten rather weedy but the flower heads are attracting flyers by the dozens. Well apparently it's attracting other things, too.

I found this little bugger in the patch last night. It dawned on me afterwards that I probably should have at least collected him if not squished first and asked later. I mean, it is the shape of a sub-adult stink bug and so very few of those are beneficial after all. But, this particular one? I've never seen anything like it before. Beautiful. It is what saved the thing.
UGH... I just know I'm going to wake up next week and find a million of the little nymphs on my plants. :-( I hope I didn't make a bad decision. The only good news is that it was attracted to the mint, and as such it was right on the edge of that patch. It's gotten all weedy so that means it won't be there for long. If it is sub-adult I may luck out at the timing and be mowing when it lays eggs.

This particular night it was time for the thread waisted wasps to visit. I'm going to have to get my good camera out this weekend and see what I can get some photos of. Because these things are fascinating. If you don't know what these wasps are they are a predatory wasp. (WAHOO!!!) I've only seen them once or twice in the 5 years I've been gardening here. But right now they are coming in droves. Why, Oh WHY do I not have tomatoes on my plants right now? I know they'd be safe from worms for a change! This wasp happens to prey on caterpillars in particular it likes great big juicy HORN WORMS and other large cats like army worms and things of that nature. Check it...

See those great big mandibles? Those jaws are meant for grabbing onto and snatching up the cat while she holds onto it with her legs. She actually carries it off to her den where she lays her egg(s) into the creature where it gestates for her. *shudder*

OK enough of the visuals on that part. It's enough to say that the worm that was eating in my garden gets what it deserves and the wasp population carries on.

They are pollen and nectar eaters and are attracted to flowers. Apparently mint is one that they love. *ahem* So while I really want to mow and let the mint regenerate I'll wait a while longer. Perhaps the weeds aren't too bad. Maybe I'll even fight the mosquitoes to go out at night and pull some of the weeds up by hand so I don't disturb the flyers.


They bumped me a few times when I was taking pictures, but at no time were they being aggressive. The kids play out here all the time and unless a ball were to land in the patch I wouldn't worry about them getting stung. In all the time I've had the garden and wasps nests nearby, I've always encouraged the bees and wasps around and the kids have known about them. Only one sting in 5 years to me when I actually grabbed the poor bug and one to Kate when she put her shoe on and there was one inside her shoe. That said I'm in no hurry to mow while they are there both because I love that they are around and I am providing them a place to be and because I have no intention on making them mad and being a target. When I do finally mow it (after I provide them with another source of pollen) I will do so after dusk so that to them it simply disappears.

Oh, the smell. I can't wait to smell it! I think I'll go make some mint tea now. I can't get the thought of the mint out of my head. Maybe I'm part Thread waisted wasp myself. Although the thought of biting a hornworm makes me gag....nope definitely not related.

See you soon!


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