For the first time ever, we have an infestation of flea beetles in the kohlrabi and cabbage. You can see in the header photo what they did to the kohlrabi leaves in just a couple of days. We very rarely have insect problems in the garden, and usually never have to apply insecticide. This time the Sevin was sprayed vigorously  on these tiny, black, flying beetles the size of sesame seeds. We will wait three days to harvest, then all the cabbagey things are getting removed.

I am both  fascinated and repelled by insects. I know we need some, like bees, but I wish they weren’t so destructive.  People here try to catch flea beetles and take them to the Badlands and put them on Leafy Spurge, an invasive plant that is toxic to cattle and resistant to herbicides.  What a wonderful use for them.  I like useful insects, but that is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

What are your favorite/least favorite  insects? How do you manage them in your garden? What are your feelings about insecticides?

84 thoughts on “Bugs”

  1. I knock the japanese beetles into a shallow dish of water. Then I put the dish into a tray feeder to see if there are any avian takers. The beetles disappear, and I don’t think they are able to get out on their own, so perhaps they make a nice snack for some bird.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. When they first came in about 10 year ago, they killed an entire Mountain Ash in our yard. They ate that thing down to a stub. It was sad.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember when I was about 10, Rock County had an infeatation of by Army Woms. They were all over the place, on the sidewslks, in the fields, etc. . I think they were terribly destructive to crops.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember that so well. We used to go barefoot all summer (saving money on school shoes), but that summer we wore shoes to avoid the army worms. Those ate EVERYTHING. Stems were bare on the garden plants, and they even ate the leaves on the trees. If we left the garage door open they would crawl up to the ceiling, then fall off the ceiling onto us.

      Renee, what year do you think that was? I remember being somewhere between 12-14 years old.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    When it comes to summer insects, this is the most delightful part of the summer. Our Joe Pye Weed, Mexican sunflowers, sunflowers, and zinnias attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds and goldfinches. They like some other plants, too, but these are the ones that are the big attractors. I also found a Monarch caterpillar in the garden one day, a delightful surprise.

    I wish I could post pictures here because the butterflies have been posing like fashion models. We have had Monarchs, Yellow Swallowtails and Black Swallowtails. Earlier in the summer, we had some of the tortoise shell moths, too. One of the yellow swallowtails is missing the “tail” on one side, so that one is easy to identify. It fights for territory with another yellow swallowtail and the Monarchs in the airspace over the garden.

    Lou has been building a new raised cold frame out by the garden. The black swallowtail seems to show up for him while he works on that. I have seen one several times, but it seems shyer with me than the yellow ones which seem to almost flirt with me, landing on flowers next to where I am working in the garden.

    Re: GB recovery—stomach and ribs are slightly tender, but feeling OK. Yesterday, my first day post surgery, I only used OTC pain medications. It appears that will suffice today, too. This is kind of amazing after experiencing the amount of pain and disability I had with my knee replacement last September. My son, who digitally engineers medical devices, says surgeons have a future goal of developing all non-invasive surgery. Given this experience, I am all for it.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. we have Hyssop that really attracts the bees. I don’t want to spray any more Sevin because of the bees and butterflies. I like the old fashioned way to get rid of cabbage moths by equipping small children with nets and paying them for every cabbage moth they catch.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. In your picture, Renee, it is so clear your insects target the cruciferous plants. The parsley next to the kohlrabi is unmolested and looking healthy.


    1. Yes, it is just the cabbagey things. I hope they don’t try to find other tasty snacks after we pick the kohlrabi and cabbages. We are making cod bundles wrapped in savoy cabbage leaves as well as minestrone alla milanese on Sunday.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. My guess is that they don’t kill the leafy spurge, but if they defoliate the plant to the extent it can’t steal light from the plants you’re trying to grow, that could be a benefit.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not fond of houseflies, no-see-ums, biting gnats, sand flies, chiggers, deer flies or mosquitoes. But the insect I loathe is the tick. I have a deal with ticks. If I find one on me unattached, I give it the relative dignity of burial at sea (ie, flushed down the toilet). Attached ticks don’t get off that lightly. They crossed a line, and that makes it personal. I roast them with the flame of a match or cigarette lighter.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Those all have been out in droves this summer. After several gardening binges I was plagued with Chigger bites in all the worst places. It is so uncomfortable.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I hate bed bugs despite never being bitten by one. My sister brought some home after staying in an upscale hotel in San Francisco. We went the exterminator route for $1000.00 bucks.
    Plus a hundred dollars in quarters at the laundromat.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Where else can you talk about your favorite insects?
    We have a resident monarch that I am grateful to see each day, and a small nest of bumblebees somewhere in the garage’s foundation. They never bother us, but they love the clover, coreopsis, motherwort, and now goldenrod – I keep the garage doors open so they have a clear shot from one flower bed to the other.

    Our high school biology teacher required a 100-insect collection in high school. I had no idea till then of the number and variety of insects – my favorite which I still remember is the lacewing, and I saw one here this summer:

    Liked by 3 people

  8. The mimosa beetle is has to be way up my favorites list. An elegant example of symbiosis. Mother Mimosa lays her eggs on a branch of live wood but the larva needs dead wood to survive. So she backs up and cuts a band around the branch deep enough to kill that part of the tree where the eggs are. The branch dies, falls to the ground and serves as food for the next generation. An unpruned mimosa will live for 25-30 years. A mimosa pruned tree can have a life span over a hundred years.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. I’m not a huge fan of creepy-crawly critters in general, although I don’t go out of my way to eradicate most of them. Except for Deet, I don’t use chemical sprays to control bugs. Judging from the amount of cobwebs that have been cropping up everywhere in our house during the pandemic, we’re apparently coexisting with a fair amount of spiders.

    I do like butterflies and some moths; some bugs I find endlessly fascinating. Fire flies (or lightning bugs) I could watch for hours. Same thing with the praying mantis. And watching a dragonfly decimate a swarm of flies is truly amazing. Puff! and they’re gone.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. The late Bill Holm wrote some wonderful poems about boxelder bugs. Here are a few of them.|
    First, a boxelder bug prayer:

    I want so little
    For so little time
    A south window,
    A wall to climb,
    The smell of coffee,
    A radio knob,
    Nothing to eat,
    Nothing to rob,
    Not love, not power,
    Not even a penny,
    Forgive me only
    For being so many

    Next is Holm’s method for getting rid of them:

    Take two bricks.
    Creep deliberately up
    Behind the boxelder bug,
    Being careful not to sing—
    This will alert him.
    In a graceful flowing gesture,
    Something like a golf swing
    Or reaching for your lover in the dark,
    Gather up the boxelder bug
    On the surface of the left brick
    Bringing the right brick
    At the same time firmly down
    Together with the left brick.
    There will be a loud crashing,
    Like broken cymbals,
    Maybe a breaking of brick, and
    If you are not careful,
    Your own voice rising.
    When the brick dust has settled
    And you have examined your own hands,
    You will not see the boxelder bug,
    There is a small hole in the brick
    And he is exploring it,
    Calmly, like a millionaire
    In an antique shop.

    And finally, three boxelder bug haiku:

    (1) Careful if you kill him!
    There may be an afterlife
    For both of you.

    (2) Those black spots in your lamp?
    Only bugs who didn’t make it
    Into the next world.

    (3) The piano string stops trembling
    But boxelder bugs
    Keep dancing.

    Liked by 9 people

        1. True that, but if you find a 72 year old on floor conversing with boxelder bugs, you may have an entirely different scenario on your hands.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. My father’s favorite method for getting houseflies out of the car was to open all the car windows as he sped down the road, blowing the flies and everything else all around in the car.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. My Grade 6 teacher told a story about growing up near Glenwood, MN, in the early 1960’s and she and a couple of family members going on a walk in a woody, brushy area with a Catholic nun in a full habit. (Her family was very Catholic.) When they emerged from the brush, Miss Larson said there were so many ticks on the nun’s habit it looked like the habit was moving. She had no idea why the tics were so attracted to the habit.

    Liked by 5 people

        1. Several years ago a couple of friends and I spent a weekend prowling Southwest Minnesota. Somewhere in the little towns near Windom and Comfrey we saw a single nun, out in full habit. This was noticeable because a) it was a brown habit of the Carmelites, not the usual black and white, b) she was nowhere near anything that looked like a convent, church, school, or hospital – the usual environs of a nun, and c) she was the only person we had seen out walking for quite awhile. We still giggle about happening upon a “free range nun.”

          Liked by 5 people

  13. Not long ago I heard a buzzing from behind a curtain in the kitchen. It sounded a little like when you get a bee in the house that keeps trying fruitlessly to find a way through the glass, but a bit weirder than that. I gingerly pulled back the curtain and discovered a housefly caught in a spiderweb, unable to get free. It was a good-sized fly, and a little spider probably less than a quarter of its size was standing by watching it struggle. I wondered what the spider was thinking. It was likely thinking either A) This huge creature is going to rip apart my carefully constructed web and I’m going to have to rebuild it all over again, or B) JACKPOT!

    I forgot to go back later to find out who won.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. The Moths by Mary Oliver

    There’s a kind of white moth, I don’t know
    what kind, that glimmers
    by mid-May
    in the forest, just
    as the pink mocassin flowers
    are rising.

    If you notice anything,
    it leads you to notice
    and more.

    And anyway
    I was so full of energy.
    I was always running around, looking
    at this and that.

    If I stopped
    the pain
    was unbearable.

    If I stopped and thought, maybe
    the world
    can’t be saved,
    the pain
    was unbearable.

    Finally, I noticed enough.
    All around me in the forest
    the white moths floated.

    How long do they live, fluttering
    in and out of the shadows?

    You aren’t much, I said
    one day to my reflection
    in a green pond,
    and grinned.

    The wings of the moths catch the sunlight
    and burn
    so brightly.

    At night, sometimes,
    they slip between the pink lobes
    of the moccasin flowers and lie there until dawn,
    in those dark halls of honey.

    Liked by 5 people

  15. When I have been going out for walks these last couple of weeks I have often been accompanied in places by monarchs and dragonflies. Once or twice I have spied hummingbird moths. Loud buzzing has often meant I am passing bees happily dining in someone’s garden (I passed a bee balm one day that was a veritable party of bees out for afternoon tea). I was less happy about the walk where clearly my companions were mosquitos – it was a short walk and I came back with bites all over both ankles, my knees, and along one leg. Calamine lotion helped but made me look like I was suffering from some ill disease.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love standing in my garden and listening to the buzzing. There are bees everywhere. They love the sunflowers and the Joe Pye Weed especially. Bumblebees hang out on the Mexican sunflowers. I try not to use any pesticide in that part of the garden ever, although I rarely use it anyway. I stopped growing roses because they require so much rose powder which has an aphid powder on it, but it gets the other insects, too. Yesterday our Monarch butterfly was back and the aggressive yellow swallowtail was visiting other gardens.

      Liked by 5 people

  16. We have a patch of monarda that all summer has been host to some very large bumblebees, their stuffed leg sacs orange with pollen. They are so gleefully busy they pay no attention to us at all.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. We have Monarda, too, The bees seem to love it even when the blossoms are spent, and I am reluctant to desd head them until the bees abandon them.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. We are about to harvest the cabbages, and are scrambling to find recipes we can use them in. In addition to minestrone and cod-stuffed cabbage rolls, we are making a traditional Hungarian gulyas with cabbage. Of course, this is happening just when the tomatoes are rushing to ripeness and I need to can them today as well. Truth be told, I feel like a pig in clover.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. If I’m not misremembering, you grew hops a few years ago, so apparently you have been toying with the idea for a while. I say, go for it!


  18. House centipedes freak me out. So quick! I understand they are harmless to humans and prey on bad bugs but still…
    They remind me of the cartoon character Randall from the delightful movie Monsters Inc. although he more of a lizard.

    Liked by 4 people

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