Friday, August 8, 2014

Something Is Eating My Milkweed

I walk around with blinders on when it comes to insects in the garden for the most part. I pay them no mind. Butterflies are about the only thing that will grab my attention.

Decades of being bent down and face first, enmeshed in shrubs and flowers even if they might be swarming with bees has taught me there is nothing to fear. I have work to do. I can't be worrying about all the bugs crawling around.

Those same decades have also taught me that any plant that can't survive and prosper while sharing a little lunch with a few bugs isn't worth growing. No potion will ever solve the problem or save it in the long run. I am licensed to kill bugs in the state of North Carolina and I never use it.

A garden that operates on the principle of survival of the fittest means just that. Climate, temperatures, sun, shade, soil, wet, dry or bugs, it don't matter. Any plant that is known to be bug candy isn't likely to survive here.

Something is eating my milkweed and I don't care.

When I first saw the eaten leaves I couldn't believe it. Yes I grew them from seed and planted them just for monarch caterpillars. We already have other species of milkweed up here and not once have I seen a monarch cat. I wasn't expecting any action on them. Only in the fall do I ever see a few migrating monarchs passing through.

That's no monarch caterpillar. What is that furry thing? A quick search tells me it is the larva of the milkweed tussock moth. I also read over 450 different insect species use milkweed. I always thought monarchs were one of the few.

So there are fuzzy orange, black and white caterpillars on half of my baby milkweeds and I still don't care. When they were  planted out as seedling last fall the turkeys scratched the peck out of them while taking dust baths in my newly cleared ground. I was surprised they even came back this spring.

These are Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, a pernicious rhizomatous perennial that can be hard to get rid of. The only thing that needs to survive is the root crown. Let them eat the weed. They will be back.

Now what the heck is that thing speeding through the service entrance? It was big, a good two plus inches long.

It looked like the insect version of a caltrop. This is it, the spiked tire puncturing device that will always land point up no matter how you roll it. What are those people in Madison County up to now?

I know I have a garden buzzing, squirming and crawling with insect life and I just hardly notice them at all. Yes, I can get annoyed when some stem boring insect send stalks of Joe Pye crashing to the crowd, but I am not short on Joe Pye. Quite the opposite. There is plenty to share.

Plenty Joe Pye.

With most plants, if they are getting chewed on in any way it gets lost in the abundance. Even deer browsing only amounts to some random sampling at best.

I might feel a bit less accepting if something was to go after my first ever pumpkin that is now turning orange and getting warty. It will have to rely on its thick rind for protection. I think only a bear could get through that and if that should happen I will stop growing pumpkins before I start attracting bears.

Now there are more. I am learning, don't count your pumpkins before they begin to swell. Some are just sitting there, not rotting and not growing. I don't know what they are doing. Right now I have four swelling pumpkins which is four more than I have ever had before.

These things I notice. It's the plants I am interested in.


Lola said...

Love those munchers.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

That huge beetle is fabulous. I love to see the insects inhabiting the garden. They seem like friends in the garden.

Rebecca said...

I like your philosophy of bugs! It definitely serves you well there in the Lush. Looking good. What a beautiful season there...

Jane said...

I love your way of gardening, no spraying for bugs or weeds. Your garden is lovely!