Sunday, June 21, 2015

"It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought."
~James Douglas

The Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach, Calif. currently has their Butterfly House open to the public.

-ENC - Environmental Nature Center. Newport Beach, Calif.

Dovetailing into the previous post about I.P.M., here is a disturbing article regarding the effects of neonicotinoids in our own gardens and how tenacious and pervasive these chemicals can be:

Pretty scary stuff: a much greater residual effect versus its granddaddy, nicotine sulfate. What is surprising and particularly disturbing is the almost ubiquitous presence of "neonics" amongst the plant offerings occupying our nursery rows and shelves, even present in the veggie paks we bring home to plant in our own gardens. Trying to avoid these chemicals applied on our foods out in the growing fields and during processing, they migrate home with plants we purchase in order to sidestep pesticides.

There's a dearth of butterflies at the moment here in the Container Butterfly Garden. Not sure why, as now is the time when butterflies of all sorts begin to come on strong as summer approaches. One female Monarch is flitting about ovipositing eggs, and I've seen a lone Gulf Fritillary visiting my Passion Fruit vine. A few Monarch caterpillars have been spotted, not to mention the multitude of Oleander aphids on the milkweed plants this year. I attribute the aphis explosion to the warmer than normal winter temps we experienced. Colder temps will kill off many of the aphid pests, but such was not the case last winter.

Regarding Oleander Aphids, I'm willing to share if anyone wants any. There were lots of ladybugs around happily feasting on them, but they too have disappeared at the moment. Now may be the time to spot-spray those tiny yellow beasties with insecticidal soap before the Monarchs return in full force and start laying eggs. The aphis populations are dramatically decreasing though now, as I suspect predator populations have increased to the point where their influence is noticeable. Upon close examination, some aphid carcasses are mere shells, most likely the aftereffects of wasp predation. Others are dried up, shriveled specks, which I suspect are the work of sucking insects. So yes, I.P.M. works, if one is willing to forgo garden perfection and allow nature to do what nature does, as it has done for generations past.

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