Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Agroforestry

Photo Courtesy of the NY Times

 

An interesting project in Montana and a great display as a demonstration garden. Agricultural sustainability seems to be more than just a buzz word lately. Find more on Gloria Flora’s work here.

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Oviposition, oviposition, oviposition

Sunday night dinner was a celebration of Greek food, Greek movies, a farewell to a great housemate, and an unexpected event.

In the beginning, it was a fairly normal evening.  A wasp was flying around, doing it’s wasp thing, and landed on a chair.  Fear not, soon to be Doctor Princess Marie!  This wasp is mostly harmless, unlike the pesky yellow jackets and hornets that would like to join you for a picnic.  So we let it be and eventually it flew off.

But alas! Minutes later it returned and reared its pesky, large and beautifully blue iridescent head.  After a few closer observations of its strange motions and careful examination of its back end, I realized it was ovipositing on the chair!  You can see the egg on the arm rest just below the tip of the ovipositor below.

What excitement and discussion of host choice and explanation of oviposition, the process of laying eggs.  Go figure, the entomologist of the house would get excited.  But the others appreciated the natural event as well.  I’m pretty sure that we used “oviposition” in practically every sentence afterwards. In true entomologist fashion, I collected and froze the wasp for identification and for my collection.  If only all my pinned insects had a story to go with them…

Special thanks to Jason for his fortuitous photography, Marie for diligent attention to insects on the porch, and Trevor for the delicious reason we were outside to witness this event.  Still working to ID the little thing, but I will let you know when I figure it out.

Who’s Who #2

That cute little critter from Wednesday is a pest of the plant below!

If you’ve never seen asparagus growing in a field, this is what it looks like (picture was taken about a week ago in western New York).  It’s asparagus season, and in fact I had some deliciously prepared asparagus at a tapas restaurant in town last night.  My favorite preparation of asparagus is quite simple.  I arrange the stalks on a baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil, squeeze some lemon juice over them, sprinkle a bit of garlic powder and pepper, then bake for about 30 minutes at 375º until tender but crisp.

Wednesday’s bug is the spotted asparagus beetle, Criocercis duodecimpunctata.  Here’s our spotlight pest on the crop itself.

Photo courtesy of Insect Images

The beetles are quite small, about 6-8mm in length.  Spotted asparagus beetles are in the family Chrysomelidae and may resemble ladybugs to the untrained eye.  It is distinguished from ladybugs by the six spots on each wing with longer antennae and an almost rectangular shape.  (Ladybugs tend to be more oval or almost totally round with similar but varying coloration.)  This particular species of asparagus beetle is often considered a secondary pest of asparagus, with the asparagus beetle Criocercis asparagi the most common pest (below).

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Both these pests directly damage the asparagus crop by feeding on tips and spears.  Furthermore, C. duodecimpunctata feed on the asparagus berries of the male plant.  Cutting stalks close to the ground is a good way to manage for asparagus beetle, not allowing larvae to establish in the crop.  Removing dead stalks over winter can also help reduce success of overwintering populations.  Particularly for the spotted asparagus beetle, removing asparagus berries can help reduce pest populations in home gardens.

Now that the weather has finally warmed up, it’s time to get working on the summer garden.  As soon as these thunderstorms let the soil dry up.  Happy gardening!