The Wildlife Habitat Tour sponsored by the Wachiska Audubon Society was held here in Lincoln on Father’s Day, June 16, 2013. If you went you saw many ways to make life easier for the “Birds and Bees”. There are some fierce ones out there defending their “kids” and feeding them.  Among them are some of your best garden friends making life easier for you. We call them beneficial.

          Do you have a pond? If you raise plants in the pond that have stems or leaves that are above the water, the fierce Dragon Flies will come. Their favorite food is bugs! Their names in various places are scary like “Devils Darning Needle”, “Snake Feeders”, and “Horse Stingers”. They do not hurt people but they guard their territory as they can eat their weight in smaller insects in less than a day.  Their eggs are laid in water but when they hatch they can fly and are gorgeous.  I have the ones call “Blue Dashers” over and in my Water Lily ponds. A good guy!

          Have you notices that many of the evergreens, especially Blue Spruce trees have two leaders? The mother squirrel likes her kids to be safe so she chews off the leader to make a flat top and may build a nest up there so later two branches try to become the leader. You may notice a pile of fresh small branches under a tree and wonder if it is ill. Probably not but look up and a squirrel has built a nest of cut off branches.  If they drop one they never come down to get it. They just cut another.

          Another fierce creature you have is a Praying Mantis. The females may be up to 5 inches long. Their heads can turn 180 degrees as they wait to ambush lunch as it comes by.  Diet can be Aphids, Beetles, Caterpillars, leaf hoppers, or each other.  After mating the female eats her mate as she needs the protein for her eggs to develop. If in the fall you see a spongy brown mass glued to plant stems, let it be. Your friends will hatch next spring.  Good guy!

          In my yard I raise both Fennel and Dill as there are a number of Butterflies that like to lay their eggs there.  One needs to have a very thick patch as birds love to eat these caterpillars but can’t get to them as easy in a thick patch.  I feel a little mixed up when I see a Cardinal feasting on a Butterfly caterpillar.

          When I see a little yellowish white Butterfly out hunting, I know they are looking for members of the Cabbage family. They were brought here from Europe in the 1800’s. Look on the underside of your leaves for they are very small after just hatching but soon you will notice round holes scattered around the Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Radish, or Turnip leaves. They are bad guys!!!

          One of their enemies is the big eyed bugs who stab their prey and suck out the insides. If you spray insecticides you will probably lose a friend as well. This bug can eat several dozen Spider Mites in a day. Good guy!

          A bad guy is the Bagworm that has been quite common the last few years. Each bag is a slender silk one covered with plant bits and debris.  Adult males are black moths but the female never leaves her bag of eggs. If you have a “bag” on your Pine, Juniper, Spruce, or even Apple, Oak, or Willow, pull it off and open to kill the fat caterpillar. If it is full of eggs, step on the bag to crush the eggs or place in a container (bucket) of soapy water.

          The good guy, and the only natural enemy of the Bagworm I know of, is the Parasitic Wasp. This insect lays her eggs in or on their food, usually insects such as the Bagworm, so that when they hatch they can eat the host. These Parasitic Wasps will eat about 200 different kinds of pests. They are tiny, usually less than one-half inch, with long antenna.  If you look you can buy the eggs on cards that will hatch out wherever you put them. 

          Think of your yard as a dining room or restaurant in action. Another victim of the Wasp, unless you spray and kill them, is the Cucumber Beetle. (Bad guy!) Bright yellow, with 3 black stripes, they live during the winter in garden debris or weedy areas.  Adult beetles make holes in leaves and may eat entire blossoms.  You can find them on the underside of the leaves but the worst thing they do is carry bacterial wilt and mosaic virus.

          There are other good and bad guys in your garden. Think of it as a battlefield and try not to kill the good guys with sprays.

Copyright 2013






          Sungold won the race this year. On June 24, 2013, I picked 3 ripe, small, yellow ones.  They grow in clusters of 6 to 8.  Quite often the winner is Fourth of July but it was a few days behind this year (June 31, 2013) Fourth of July is much larger Tomato than the Sungold and is red.

Copyright 2013