Tag Archives: leaf insect

Critters: mimics, camouflage, and more ugly

In the last weeks of August, I probably spent more time photographing critters than doing any actual garden maintenance :). It’s amazing how much you can see when you walk around and just quietly observe. It’s like the whole garden wakes up before your eyes.

I was in the garden one evening a few weeks ago when I noticed this crazy-looking grasshopper sitting on a butternut squash leaf. I ran back inside to get my camera and take some shots:

Grasshopper on a butternut squash leaf

Looks like he would camouflage best in rocky areas.  I thought the raised areas of its head and thorax were interesting. He almost looks like a tank.

I think the pictures are blurry because it was early evening. Using flash just washed out everything. I should really learn the settings on my camera.

Another angle

Another angle

The next day I saw another grasshopper, a leaf mimicking insect, and another insect that I at first thought was a lacewing (because of its lace wings), but it looked nothing like the lacewings I found on the net.

Nearly stepped on this guy in the grass. Caught up with him on the fence.

Nearly stepped on this guy in the grass. Caught up with him on the fence. He jumped pretty high and far for only having one hind leg!

Saw this guy hanging out on my giant zucchini.

Saw this guy hanging out on my giant zucchini.

I really harassed the leaf insect. I kept poking his wings from behind, just to see what he would do. Most of the time he would just walk away until he finally got fed up and hopped out of sight. It sounded as if I flicked my finger against the zucchini leaf or a taught piece of tarp. I was surprised that something so small could make so much noise!

Had to get a good angle

Look at those eyes!

I have no idea what this is. He was camouflaged in the sage leaves.

The body looks too big to be a lacewing, yet it has lace wings. Hmmm....

The body looks too big to be a lacewing, yet it has lace wings. Hmmm…. Check out the antennae!

Back to the usual uglies:

I was upset when I discovered that these brightly coloured beetles, which I labelled as harmless flies, were the dreaded squash vine borer!!!

Squash vine borers on one of my zucchini plants

Squash vine borers on my zucchini near the strawberries

If I had known what they were, I would’ve killed them. No question. I was even more upset when I discovered from a University of Minnesota article that after the worm destroys the root, it bores its way into the soil to pupate and reemerge next spring! If I had known this, I would have pulled up the giant zucchini plant it had invaded! Well… it would have been a tough call. This plant produced an abundance of fruit despite the serious damage it sustained.

Squash vine borer damage

Look what it did to my giant zucchini! Absolutely shredded!

Earlier this summer when I looked closely at the big white patches on my beet greens, I noticed worms burrowing under a thin layer of the leaf’s surface! This was the first time I’d ever seen the leafminer worm. Although it’s really neat to see it underneath such a thin layer of the leaf, I kinda wish I’d never seen it. It’s pretty gross.

The dark stuff in the tract is poo or frass

The dark stuff in the tract is poo or frass

This guy has made a mess of this leaf!

This guy has made a mess of this leaf!

Leafminer eggs

Leafminer eggs

At least I know what the eggs look like now. I’d seen them earlier this summer when I was washing the greens for my family. I just washed them off. If I had told my sister what they were, the greens would have ended up in the garbage.

Not sure what this is. A spider perhaps?

Not sure what this is. A spider perhaps? I like the colour contrast against the leaf.

Cricket!

Cricket! These guys don’t stick around to be photographed.

Such a tiny guy made such a big hole!

A baby cabbage worm. Such a tiny guy made such a big hole!

Cabbage moth

Cabbage moth –  the final developmental stage of the cabbage worm (and the producer of more eggs) – on an acorn squash leaf

Leafhopper

Leafhopper – these guys suck the juices out of plant leaves, leaving them mottled and distorted

Cucumber beetles

Cucumber beetles mating in a zucchini flower

 

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Tough love, part 2

Last night I’d been reading that some of the brown spots on the tomato leaves may be early signs blight. So this morning I sprayed the leaves  as well as those of the zucchini with some diluted milk and poured the rest into the soil. I read about this idea in the book You grow girl by Gayla Trail (it’s also on her website of the same name). Milk is apparently a potent antifungal. Who knew?

Milk, does a plant good too!

In one of her posts, Gayla uses spoiled milk but says in response to her post on the subject that regular milk can be used as well. My family drink a lot of milk (I only really crave it when I have cookies) so it rarely goes bad. I also went a bit crazy with removing suckers, accidentally removing some that had flowers on them. Flowers that would have become tomatoes. My brother was not impressed.

Continuing with tough love, as planned, I removed the nine calendula flowers crowding the zucchini. The space was a housing tons of earwigs and a cucumber beetle! I’m so glad I removed them  if only to find this out. Earwigs are helpful in the garden, getting rid of debris, but they can also attack your plants.  And the cucumber beetle will harm your curcurbits (ie. gourds such as squash and cucumbers).

No longer a hiding place for earwigs and cucumber beetles

I was so happy to see them scatter when I pulled out the calendula. I not only improved the circulation around the zucchini, but I also took away a pest hiding place. Yes! Hopefully the zucchini will recover and start to make fruit.

Now to find a home for 9 Calendula flowers

We easily removed the giant sunflower from the front of the plot and I planted 4 of the calendula in its place, 2 where the carrots were planted next to the sunflower, and 3 next to the cornflowers, which are finally starting to bloom. I was going with the idea of 4 plants per square (it seemed like logical spacing). This plant is very delicate! Several leaves broke off as I planted them, making a hollow crunching sound like snapping off a piece of celery.

Calendula take stage left, former space of sunflower and carrots

Red and yellow nasturtiums, blue cornflowers, and once they bloom, orangey-yellow calendula

Saw this cool bug that looked like a leaf. I did a Google search for “insect that looks like a leaf” and came up with a katydid. I wonder if that’s what this is:

Can you see the leaf-mimicking insect?

Harvested mostly carrots today and a few more zucchini blossoms. The carrots were pretty good and I had the blossoms on my pita pizza. They had disintegrated when I washed them with my harvest from yesterday. I have tons to basil and I’m not sure what to do with it. I’m not a fan of pesto. I might just them to my green smoothie.

Beautiful carrots

This cucumber did not need my help. It scaled the nearby sunflower to become the tallest plant in the plot. Good job and great companion planting advice (see July 5th visit)! I’ve seen at least 3 baby cucumbers on my 4 plants. It doesn’t sound like much, but to see any is fabulous. Things are looking up!

This cucumber is now the tallest plant in the plot!

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