Authors in Bloom Blog Hop: Spring Brings Good Bugs
After such a snowy winter ⛄ (Boston broke a record with something like 108 inches this season!), those of us in New England are very much looking forward to spring. Some are likely looking for that first telltale sign of a robin hopping along the grass, or maybe the brightly colored daffodils anxious to reach the sun ☀. For me, I’m eagerly waiting for the birth of a new crop of praying mantises.
That’s right, when I think of spring, I think about bugs. 😀 Late May/early June is always an exciting time in my garden because that’s when the little mantises emerge from their egg sacks (easily identified on various bushes now that I know what to look for).
Years ago praying mantises used to be a rare sight. The rumors in school were that it was illegal to kill a mantis or pick a lady slipper flower (found in the swampy areas around town). Now it would seem strange to me not to see a mantis in my garden since they’ve been a regular fixture for many years. Even seeming to increase in numbers, although that might just be me noticing them ore often.
Certainly canceling the pest control service that was spraying our house foundation for ants has helped the mantis population stay healthy. Nowadays, I prefer organic pest control methods and a hardy group of praying mantises is a great help.
There is one small downside: while they are voracious insect eaters, they aren’t choosy about what they eat. One of my mantises’ favorite hangouts is the butterfly bush. Yup, guess what’s on there menu there every day? 😀 Fortunately, the butterfly population is also very healthy around here, too, thanks to a garden full of butterfly-friendly flowers.
The mantises also like to hang out on my cucumber vines and that’s a good place for them to be to keep pesky aphids and other troublesome bugs away from the veggies. Occasionally, they nab a bumblebee coming to fertilize the blooms, but mostly they hang out under the leaves and the bees come and go without incident.
An insect you may not think of as helfpful to the garden is the common yellow jacket wasp. I know…ooo-ahhh, wasps, they’re nasty, they’re mean. Actually, I think they’re largely misunderstood. As a child I was petrified of wasps (I mean, panic-stricken to the point of freezing like a statue, on the verge of fainting the moment I saw one enter a classroom window, whether it came near me or not.) Finally I decided to confront my fear and learn more about the yellow jacket. I reasoned that it had to have a purpose or why was it here. Surely not just to torment us (although I haven’t found a reason yet for ticks).
I learned that yellow jackets, while they eat nectar like bees, their young are voracious meat-eaters. So, to feed the offspring in the nest, adult yellow jackets go out and gather up other insects. I personally saw a yellow jacket pluck a large broccoli worm off my plants and fly off with it. Thank you, Ms. Yellow Jacket! They also love to eat those nasty tent moth caterpillars that destroy so many tress in New England each summer. How can you not love that?
So, while they might be a bit on the aggressive side, a yellow jacket is not something you should just squash indiscriminately. Like bumblebees, praying mantises and ladybugs, they serve an important role in your backyard garden.
Blog Hop Giveaways
What’s a blog hop without a few prizes, right?
Leave a comment here on my page about what you’re looking forward to most this spring and then visit ALL the other pages of the blog hop (and comment!) and you’ll be entered into a drawing for the Grand Prize: an ereader of their choice (up to $200 value) with second prize a $25 gift card to the ebook retailer of their choice.
NOTE: Be sure to include your email address in the comments areas of the blog hop participants so you can be contacted if you win.
Only visitors who visit every stop on the blog hop are eligible for the grand prize.
A pair of handmade beaded “Caterpillar Eye” earrings.
To enter MY DRAWING, leave a comment for one chance to win. Like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter or join my monthly newsletter for additional entries. A Rafflecopter has been set up to make entering easy:
The winner of my giveaway will be announced in the comments section of this post on April 18. The winners of the eReader and second prize will be announced on the blog hop organizer website: www.diannevenetta.com by April 20. Good luck!! 😀