Confession: Before Master Gardener training I was, despite being a Biologist by trade, firmly on the squeamish side regarding anything bug related. I mean, butterflies and ladybugs were A-OK, but anything else? Gross.
I can’t say that I’m an entomologist or even bug lover now, but I’m not ‘afraid’ of them, more curious than anything. If I see a new bug, I take a photo and hit up the Googles to figure out what it is. In the past, my default setting was to assume it was a ‘bad’ bug and kill it. Now, I’ll take the time to figure it out for sure. I’m so brave!
This guy here was one of (ultimately) thirteen hanging out on just one of our Blue Muffin Arrowwood Viburnums (Viburnum dentatum ‘Christom’). They did quite a number on it and it has significantly less leaves on it than its other two counterparts. It will recover fine, but these guys had to find a new home.
A quick search ID’s them as the (obviously) larval form of the Achemon Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha achemon). I saw one of these striking and HUGE moths about a year ago hanging out on our mailbox. Thankfully I got a photo.
Isn’t it incredible? That screw head is a normal, household screw, so you can really appreciate how massive these moths are. When their wings are fully spread, you can see the pink arch at the bottom better. They are amazing.
I found six the other night and move them to our Crabapple trees (which is a known, preferred food source) as they are much larger than our year old viburnum and have foliage to spare.
We found seven more this morning and moved them along with their friends. I hope, once they mature, we get to see them in adulthood too!
Rich found this guy hanging out on the milkweed this morning as well. It took a lot (A LOT) of searching but I did finally figure out it is a Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle (Labidomera clivicollis) and is perfectly harmless. Its sort of tubby and cute, so I’m glad to have it around.
This on the other hand, is a bad sign. It is the cocoon of bagworm-type moths. Like tent worms but on a lesser scale. Yarf. (Seriously, do not get me started about tent worms. DISGUSTING. I will not even link to anything about them just on principle.) Apparently there is just one larva in each of these, but they can get out of hand if not managed. So they will join the Rose Chafer Beetles in the Soapy Water of Doom.
The other new-to-us bug this year is the Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexgutata). They are SUPER fast (and eat baby grasshoppers) so I haven’t been able to snap a photo of my own. Their shiny green color makes them both beautiful and hard to miss and I’m always pleased to have another beneficial bug predator calling our garden home. Especially since there are A LOT of baby grasshoppers this year.
I know most of you aren’t in Wisconsin, but a few of you dear readers are from the Midwest, so may I suggest the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee’s Field Station Bug of the Week site. You can search it by general classification, but once you know your bug, this site has an abundance of great information presented in a really approachable way.
What happy/beneficial bugs do you have in your gardens?