Sunday, August 3, 2014

Insect Rants and Raves

Whorled Milkweed
I am going to stray from the plants today to talk about insects, particularly pollinators which, as we all know the plants depend on for survival and so do we. Two of these topics I am very excited about and one I am appalled at.

On July 5th I saw my first Monarch of 2014. I will be watching for more. I also saw a few out at Forsythe Wildlife Refuge. I hope you are all finding them as well. I have had a lot of calls for Milkweed, so the word is definitely getting out there to help protect them and that is great. Hopefully we will start to see an increase rather then an decrease in populations. I do have a few more plants available if anyone is looking for some. Common, Swamp and Butterfly. 

While I am on the Milkweed subject, I am happy to report that my first seed-grown Whorled Milkweed has finally bloomed after three years. I am very excited to finally have a picture. It is quite dainty and has white flowers. I look forward to harvesting seed this year and having them available next year.

Anyone who knows me well knows that my second love after photographing plants is photographing dragonflies. I love dragonflies. This year in my new home I have a resident male Great Blue Skimmer who is perched on a mini-shepherd's hook daily for over a month and patrols the yard chasing off all other dragonflies, hummingbirds and pickup trucks who approach his area. I call him Jagoo, the Urdu for for fighter. He is not shy at all and lets me take his picture quite close up. He is quite a joy and greets me each sunny morning when I come outside as he has gotten used to me and knows I am not a threat. He seems to stay away when it is overcast.  Another dragonfly that hangs out on the other side of the yard away from Jagoo, is a male Painted Skimmer. He has been quite shy, but today allowed me to photograph him up close, close enough where I could almost touch him. So I am quite excited to get these close up shots of both of them.

Jagoo, Great Blue Skimmer,
 (and watch-dragonfly)
Male Painted Skimmer


                                                         Lastly, I have a concern. I was surfing the net and clicked on an ad entitled "How to Green Your Home" which turned out to be an add for Gaiam. Now I love Gaiam and have ordered a few things for my new home from them. They are generally an eco-friendly, fair trade oriented, green company. However one of the items in the ad was recycled glass wasp traps. Now something about this title just doesn't sound right to me. Am I to pay up for something "green" to kill a pollinator? I was somewhat appalled.

Wasp nectaring on a Swamp Milkweed

Now I realize that wasps can be a problem when they build their homes under the eaves and around areas used by humans. But I am inclined to believe that humans can find a way to live in harmony with wasps by encouraging them to build their nests away from our living areas by installing a fake nest or using a wasp repellent. Avoid having things they consider food like pet food and compost piles near the living area. Perhaps planting nectar plants out in the back areas to entice them out there. I will look into more ways to discourage wasps. But as I have seen them pollinating my vegetable garden and Swamp Milkweeds, as well as carrying off detrimental caterpillars like Tomato Hornworm, I certainly welcome mine. I will post anything I find related to this, but encourage you to share any tips you have for non-lethal wasp control. After all, they are pollinators.