Friday, July 11, 2008 | | butterflies, editorial, wildlife
One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug. -Franz Kafka
The Japanese beetles arrived last week and as Lilah and I were on patrol yesterday armed with cans of soapy water, she started reciting The Metamorphosis. (Cheeky girl.) We proceeded to have a showdown to see who could capture the most beetles. – I think it was a draw…
As gardeners we live and work amongst all walks (and flies and crawls) of life and as conscientious gardeners I think we do our best to do no harm. As Gail tells her kids, “we don’t hurt nature”. But then there’s things like aphids and Japanese beetles and white flies and scale and I seem to have no compunction at all about squarshing them. But we ought to practice at least basic integrated pest management. The more diverse the wildlife population is in the garden, the healthier and more balanced the garden is. It’s worth encouraging (just by not discouraging) natural predators – like ladybugs who eat aphids and praying mantises who eat everything (including fellow mantises). And as for the Japanese beetles whose only real predator is Lilah, we have tried dosing the grubs with Milky Spore Disease which is harmful to nothing else. — I think it might be working too. Dan treated the lawns two falls ago and so far this year (knock wood) the beetle population seems ever so slightly diminished. I’ve heard other theories that last year’s drought did them in. Are any of you seeing fewer this year than last?
Over the last few years I have learned to love and be less skeeved out by the creepy crawlies in the garden – even the giant spider web I walked into headfirst this morning didn’t set me shrieking. The more I’m around these guys, the more fascinated I become. It helps that I work with Gail who I think is an entomologist in a parallel universe. I can’t be too neurotically phobic when she’s saying “Wow! Look at this one!” She has an amazing box full of bugs and it is extra special for being a no-kill collection. It takes dedication and an extra keen eye to find the bugs that are already dead!
I’m content to watch the live ones. How do you feel about the wildlife in your garden?