Sunday, September 11, 2011

Honeybees Return, and more...

 Honey Bee on Sedum "Matrona"

   I have no idea where they live, but they stop in for a snack every now and then, particularly when they find something on my menu that suits them. The Honey Bees come and go over the course of the summer and I've taken a keen interest in seeing what their favorite plants are. This time, it's the Sedums that have brought them back.

Honey Bees on Sedum "Matrona"

   Nothing relaxes me more than sitting on the front porch, watching the bees whirring back and forth. Their motion and faint buzzing can have quite the hypnotic effect on me.

 Paper Wasp on Cimicifuga "Hillside Black Beauty"

   For some reason, this hybrid Bugbane (Cimicifuga) blooms later than the true species. It also smells much sweeter. Not surprisingly, it's covered in tiny ants, and only the boldest wasps can squeeze in for a sip of the nectar.

 Carpenter Bee taking the shortcut on Salvia

   We still have an abundance of Carpenter Bees hanging around. I noticed they've developed a clever way to "steal" some nectar from long tubed flowers that they otherwise wouldn't be able to access with their shorter tongues...they land on the tube, climb up, and pierce the base of the flower where they can then reach the nectar! Quite clever indeed!

 Milkweed Bugs on Swamp Milkweed

   I've been dutifully checking all of my Milkweed plants for Monarch caterpillars, but unfortunately all I have are Milkweed Bugs and Milkweed aphids. And boy do I have a lot of them!

I'm wondering, would having these insects on the milkweed plants discourage Monarchs from laying their eggs here?

If that's the case, should I have tried to remove the Milkweed Bugs and aphids when I first noticed them?

Or, is it perfectly natural for them to be there, and I should just leave nature alone?

Any advice is greatly welcomed!

Orange Milkweed aphids on Swamp Milkweed


  1. I have decided that since Milkweed is a host plant and Milkweed bugs are sapsuckers, someone has to go. Sap gets sucked, seed pods deform and the Monarchs go elsewhere. Soooooooo, I squish 'em. Everyone must make the call for themselves but I'm in the squishing camp. :)

  2. I was excited to find a spicebush swallowtail caterpillar on my Lindera (spicebush). First time ever! The same plant also had 3 saddleback caterpillars ... eek!

  3. Late season swallowtail caterpillars and a win in the Caption Contest...I guess you think you're pretty hot stuff!

  4. Great photos, I find the paper wasps like to "look you in the eye" when you're photographing them, as you've captured. Sometimes, I wonder if they're considering making a run at me.

  5. Ellen, congrats on your Spicebush Swallowtail, they have to be one of the coolest looking caterpillars out there.

    Heather, thanks for the compliments. Believe it or not, I've really enjoyed having Paper Wasps build nests near our doorways. We seem to have a mutual "I won't hurt you if you don't hurt me" relationship. They're fascinating to watch how they communicate with each other with body movements.

  6. Well, way late to game, but I've raised 500 monarchs in three years. Squish those aphids! They suck the leaved dry. Oh sure, eventually the lady bugs come and dispose of every last aphid. EVENTUALLY. I come inside with orange fingers all the time--monarchs get priority in my garden!

  7. I'm with Benjamin...
    Don't want those pests...
    The milkweed bugs seem related to squash bugs... they keep coming in spite of killing every one that I can catch... and they produce tons of progeny!
    Those aphids suck!
    There's nothing left for the monarchs after the aphids take over. I wash them off, squish them, and in severe cases, just cut the plant and dispose...