April 29, 2010
Polychrysia esmeralda (Oberthür 1880)
P. esmeralda larva
Beginning in the first week of May, our new up-and-coming delphiniums, larkspur and monkshood plants will be subject to infestation by the larva of Polychrysia esmeralda, the leaf-tier moth. They overwinter as eggs or early instar larva and they can infest the plants at the earliest stages of growth. The larva use silk to hold leaves together over the growing buds of the plants. Secure inside this protective cover, they eat away the growing centre of growth. This not only disfigures the plant, but it also removes the flowering bud.
The simplest method to fight this pest is to open up the tied leaves and pick out the larva with your fingers. Dispose of them as you please…I drop them at the entrance of the nearest ants nest.
Amn't we cute?
(Moth image from Encyclopedia of Life Labs, original from the E.H. Strickland Entomological Museum at the University of Alberta)
April 28, 2010
Some rainy days ahead, a chance to work indoors on garden related items. Here is a repost from The Bug Whisperer blog:
It won’t be long for the bees to be on the wing again, and it may just make their lives a bit easier, and our garden’s more enjoyable, if we have a few bee hotels scattered about. Not that we have to bring in a skep or a large boxy ‘super’ for domesticated bees. I am speaking of the variety of small wild and solitary bees which often visit our gardens. Most of the solitary bees are cavity nesters, and it is fairly easy to emulate their nesting sites by drilling holes into wood or by bundling straws or sections of bamboo. Bumblebees need more elaborate nest sites, but all the information you need can be found in this pdf as produced by the Xerces Society. It does not take much to provide homes for the helpful little pollinators that are so useful to our lives and add so much interest to our gardens.
Halictus sp. (Halictus rubicundus?) on Helianthus 'Summer Sun' (Summer 2009)
Learn more about the importance of bees and other pollinators at Pollination Canada
April 19, 2010
Feeding at the Maple
An early spring pruning has resulted in our maple bleeding (not to death, mind you – spring pruning of maple and birch is frowned upon for aesthetic reasons only, and does not harm the tree) and becoming a source of refreshment for some of the spineless inhabitants of our garden. Yesterday while doing the major perennial cut-back in the front garden, two Mourning Cloaks came to visit, distracting me from my honest labor.
The Mourning Cloak, Nymphalis antiopa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common in Alberta, these butterflies are considered rare in England, where it is known as the Camberwell Beauty. John Acorn, in his book Butterflies of Alberta, explains that they were once known as ‘Great Surprise’ and ‘White Petticoat’ in Britain. He approves of the former, but finds the latter ridiculous. I think White Petticoat is a nice folksy sort of name, but perhaps a bit risqué for your more staid variety of entomologist, who may find it a tad…naughty.
April 18, 2010
Barren, barren, all is barren! Nothing but autumn’s leaves and the skeletons of leaves, and twigs. Mouldering mounds where green lives once grew.
Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)
But what is this? Raking aside the crumbling remains, some life peers through. And at the foot of the monster spruce, glints of blue.
The garden is afoot!