What’s eating you, uh, your garden?

Just a reminder, dear reader, before you go any further … my blog is not specifically a ‘gardening’ blog, it is a ‘decompression’ blog. As in, me, decompressing…

Lately I’ve been decompressing over the infestation of aphids, fungi and other pests in our back yard. I’m determined not to use chemicals and to implement a more organic approach to controlling pests. So far I trapped three beetles in our earwig traps – but have since ditched the traps because (1) beetles are adorable and (2) earwigs are probably not the culprit eating our salvia in the first place (3) I should stop hating earwigs so much even if I can’t get the thought out of my head that earwigs crawl inside sleeping people’s ears, eat their brains and cause infinite torture. Ewwww!

Moving right along to the aphid infestation (per topic of my last blog) I have received invaluable feedback from my readers. One of them grew up on a farm. Her dad’s crop was infested with aphids. He let loose bags and bags of ladybugs and they got rid of the aphids. Voila!

Another reader mentioned insects that herd aphids and milk them. Whew. Yes. Farmer ants feed on the ‘honeydew’ or sugary secretions (yuck) from the aphids. It’s a ‘mutualisic relationship’ in which the ants nurture the aphids and vice versa. Interesting. But not particularly helpful in getting rid of aphids.

One more reader suggested I have a ladybug wing-clipping cookout party on my deck – you know, clip the wings on the lady bugs so they don’t fly off to your neighbors’ … which, the fact that lady bugs fly off is a big problem. You would invite family members to such an event. My sister was proactive on the subject, commenting that, given the side effects of her asthma meds, she would for certain cut the ladybugs in half.

I tried last week to purchase a ladybug brigade to eat the aphids on our huge old crab apple tree. Called all the greenhouses in town – none of them have ladybugs for sale now. “It’s too hot and they aren’t shipping them because they’ll fry in transit.” I’m starting to feel really bad for ladybugs now – with all the horrible things humans can do to them. At this juncture, may I suggest: “Pray for ladybugs.” (Maybe set aside a national “Pray for ladybugs” day – first thing in the spring?)

So, back to our 3/4 dead aphid infested crab apple tree: We did not (A) use chemicals (B) cut the tree down or (C) implement a lady bug brigade. Out of default (and the fact that we haven’t heard from the arborist hired to cut tree down in over a month) we have implemented Plan D: Do nothing. Which, how surprising to see such positive results with absolutely no human intervention whatsoever:

June 30, 2015

June 30, 2015

Up close you see a healthy crop of crab apples!

"Keep the tarps handy, honey"

“Keep the tarps handy, honey”

I didn’t see any signs of aphids on the few leaves I didn’t look too closely at. (Hey, I’m just not in the mood today for close encounters with aphids, okay?) I’m thinking maybe nature took care of the problem with the heat wave we’ve been under the past 10 days? I did do a Google search on ways to get rid of aphids. One way is to pick them off the leaves yourself (are you kidding?). Another way is to ‘displace them’ by shooting them with the hose (and then you stomp all over them once they hit the ground?). You should be very pleased with this link I found – for horticultural soap spray – an “environmentally friendly application used to eliminate small soft bodied insects such as aphids, whiteflies, spider mites and mealybugs.” Great. (Subjects for three more blogs?..)

To make insecticidal soap:

•Combine one cup of oil, any variety, such as vegetable, peanut, corn, soybean, etc. with one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid or other “pure” soap (Dawn, Ivory and Lemon Joy are mentioned on many internet sites). Be sure to avoid any dish washing liquids which contain degreaser, bleach, or those that are for an automatic dishwasher.
•Mix two teaspoons of this “soap” mixture to every cup of warm water and put into a spray bottle. Mix only what is needed for a one-day application.

“Horticultural soaps disrupt the cell membranes of the insect, resulting in suffocation.” Hmmm. Tough way to go.

Meanwhile, something somewhat alarming and uncomely has been happening in our neighbor’s lawn:

Don't ask, don't tell?

Don’t ask, don’t tell?

which abutts our driveway.

What do you bet, when you pull that dead grass out you’ll find it’s missing its roots. I’m not going to do it, though.

I’m just not in the mood today for a close encounter with grubs. You know, those critters (I made reference to in my last blog) with six front legs with claws for digging and the machine-like jaws for chewing? Should I, dear reader, post a link providing magnified close-up images of grubs and grub infestations for you? No?

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