Friday, May 13, 2016

Small Visitors to my Garden in Early May

Visiting Insects in May


Although we schedule our visits on a calendar, it's not so neat in the insect world. They appear by season rather than by date. So although I can say that these insects were all garden visitors during the first two weeks of May, some had been hanging around since April, and some, like the bees,  visit me during the entire year. Let's look at them. My most welcome guests this month have been the ladybugs, who flew in to clean up my aphid problem.

Small Visitors to my Garden in Early May
Ladybugs Busy Mating and Eating Aphids, © B. Radisavljevic

They have been a great help to me. In the photo above you can see the one on top eating one of the aphids. The two on the bottom of the flower are mating. You can see how the unwelcome aphids are sucking the life out of the calendula plants. In the middle of April I had four heavily infested calendula flowers and one infested wormwood plant. It took the ladybug air force a month to finish the job, but as of yesterday there are no more aphids and most of the ladybugs have moved on. Below is another calendula plant they cleaned up. Do you see all the ladybugs visible on just this one plant? I counted nine.  How many can you count?

Small Visitors to my Garden in Early May
Ladybird Aphid Eating Crew on Calendula Plant, © B. Radisavljevic

There are still a few ladybugs lurking in the rosemary and on other plants. I found the one below in the crotch of this clary sage plant. I'm hoping it's not about to be a meal for the spider that lives there. We will see it later.

Small Visitors to my Garden in Early May
Ladybird Hiding on Clary Sage Plant, © B. Radisavljevic
 

Another insect currently in my garden is the spittlebug. Spittlebugs are small insects who cover their motionless nymphs, who hang out on the foliage of perennials, shrubs, annuals, and herbs, with this unsightly foam as they suck juices from the stems. According to Sunset, they do little damage and leave after about three weeks. If they really bother you, you can wash the foam off with a hose. They do make the plant look a bit ugly. Here they are "decorating" my rosemary.


Small Visitors to my Garden in Early May
Spittlebugs on Rosemary, © B. Radisavljevic

The last insect, the one who visits almost every day, is the hard-working bee. Below you see it on fruity teucrium, a ground cover, which is blooming now. The bees love it. I couldn't fit them all into this one photo, and they kept flitting off to new blossoms while I was focusing.

Small Visitors to my Garden in Early May
Bees on Fruity Teucrium, © B. Radisavljevic

Before we leave the insects, here's one more photo of a bee. This one is working on a lamb's ears flower. The lamb's ears started to bloom just a few days ago. This photo is just the right size to pin if you'd like to share it.

Small Visitors to my Garden in Early May
Busy Bee on Lamb's Ears, © B. Radisavljevic

The Inconspicuous Crab Spider in Early May


This spider has visited many of my plants. I have seen her (and what I assume is her mate) on the calendula plants with the ladybugs and aphids, on the juniper bushes, and on the rosemary.  It is very hard to see on this rosemary plant, even when I blow it up. It's not a large spider to start with, and it can take on the coloring of the plant it's on to blend in. Can you see it in the lower right corner below? I had to get into a very awkward position to get this photo at all.

Small Visitors to my Garden in Early May
Inconspicuous Crab Spider in Rosemary, © B. Radisavljevic

One of these spiders seems to be living on my clary sage. It's much easier to see and photograph there. It usually scrunches up like this while waiting for prey to appear. I do have a video of two of these spiders interacting on a calendula plant, and once they start moving, they are fast. I think one may have been chasing the other. The one below is a female. The male is smaller. I saw a male on this plant a couple of days earlier. I don't see it now. I wonder if the female had him for dinner. To see how this spider mates, check the last photo on this blog post.


Small Visitors to my Garden in Early May
Inconspicuous Crab Spider on Clary Sage Leaf, © B. Radisavljevic




 Spiders & Other Arachnids
I love being able to understand which insects and spiders are visiting me. Here are some books which have been a great help in identifying and understanding them. The two books on the bottom right will appeal to children and are small enough to carry into the backyard for field use. The books on the bottom left have a format designed for teens and adults. All are illustrated and will help you identify garden visitors with six or eight legs. The short video at left above shows you some common spiders in action up close. Prime members can watch it for free. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

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