Archives for category: Insects

I have so much to do, I don’t know where to start. I’m getting a little overwhelmed. Spraining the ankle on New Year’s Day didn’t help me get off to the roaring start I’d planned.

I took a cup of tea out to the garden at noon to evaluate and meditate. It’s amazing what happens when you just stop. And observe. I wasn’t sitting for more than a couple of minutes when neighbor C.L. grabbed his cane and rambled over. As he chatted a bit, I spotted a wandering Monarch caterpillar four feet away on the driveway. When they wander away from the milkweed plant, if they are full-size (fifth instar), that means they are looking for a good spot for their chrysalis. I like to keep track of them, so I will know when the butterflies emerge. I moved this one back to the lone milkweed plant 12 feet away, and it got interested in eating again.

I’ve lost a few cats, and the cold and wind has been brutal for them. I’ve had no luck relocating them inside, or outside, to what I consider a good spot for a chrysalis. They have a mind of their own. This one died while shedding its skin to form its chrysalis. I had just watered the carrot barrels right beside it, and it is wet. I hope I did not kill it.

Dead Monarch Caterpilla

Dead Monarch Caterpillar Shedding Skin for Becoming Chrysalis

Today it is 63 degrees. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 73, and 75 degrees on the weekend. It has been in the 50’s during the day and dipping in the low 40’s at night. With wind. This makes a tough go for Monarch caterpillars. I have chrysalises that are not mature after almost two months!

I sat back down and mused about how fast some veggies grow, while others take much longer. Most of my winter garden was planted early to mid-November. Radishes and lettuce and one barrel of baby finger carrots are mature, while it will be another month or two for kale, cauliflower and cabbage, a couple of weeks more for Swiss Chard.

Little Finger Carrots

Baby Little Finger Organic Carrots

Green Kale

Winter Bor Green Kale

Green Cabbage Seedling

Copenhagen Market Green Organic Cabbage

I could harvest beet tops right now while they are tender, but I’m more interested in the beet root, which will be awhile. It’s so hard to say with the wild fluctuations in weather.

Beet Greens

Beet Tops

I could make a big salad right now of spinach, arugula and red deer tongue lettuce. But, that would clean me out. I have about two big salads worth of greens out there.

Spinach Grown in a Pot

Spinach Leaves

Deer Tongue Lettuce Leaves

Red Deer Tongue Lettuce

So, Monday, I planted more lettuce, this time, organic Romaine. That’s a small row of snap peas behind it.

Freshly Planted Garden Row

Row of Freshly Planted Romaine Lettuce

Nasturtiums have self-seeded through my beds, so I pull them out when they start getting in the way. I opened the driveway gate to drop a few in the green bin, and spotted this tiny, metallic blue beetle on the gate key pad. It looks like a drop of metallic blue paint, no more than 1/8 of an inch across. But, this one had a problem, and was opening the wings over and over to get them all folded back under the blue helmet. A little piece was sticking out. It scurried across a leaf and my hand. Since I’m a beginning gardener, everything is new to me (I had seen one last year), so I assumed it was common. After I shot video and took a few shots, I relocated it to a rose leaf.

Tiny blue beetle with broken wing.

Ladybird Beetle, Halmus chalybeus, family Coccinellidae

I sat back down and drank from my cup. Postponing the inevitable return to my office to work. I have so much to do, I don’t know where to start. So, I sipped a bit longer. Then, I came inside, and sent the beetle photo to Dr. James Hogue, Professor & Manager of Biological Collections at Cal State Northridge, in charge of their 60,000 insect specimen collection. He immediately responded:

“It looks like this is a ladybird beetle called Halmus chalybeus, family Coccinellidae. It was introduced from Australia over 100 years ago for bio-control of scale insects. I had not seen this beetle before, nor do we have any in our collection. If you run across one again, it would be a good catch that I would like for our schools collection.

The hard blue things are its first pair of wings that, in beetles, are modified as covers for the more delicate hind wings that are used for flying. These covers are called elytra.”

WHAT??? IT WAS IN MY HAND!! And I let it go. I ran back outside and searched, but it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. It was in my hand!! I’m kicking myself. I really missed my calling. I should have been an entomologist, instead of an actress!

Thanks for stopping by! What bugs are you finding in your garden? – Kaye

I highly recommend growing celery in raised beds, so you don’t have to get down on all fours to inspect your celery. I did that today. I went out to harvest some spears for juicing, and ran across a cabbage worm. I ran in for my camera and had to return a phone call and when I got back, couldn’t find it for a few minutes. Searching on hands and elbows, I found this.

Cabbage Worm Cocoon©KayeKittrell 2012

Cabbage Worm Cocoon on Celery Leaf

Let’s just say this cabbage worm will not reach the moth stage. Next, I found this cocoon.

Butterfly Cocoon

Damaged Monarch Chrysalis Hanging from Celery Leaf

It looked a lot like the shape of the Monarch cocoon, but, it was whitish green, so I wasn’t sure what it was. I cut the spear and propped it against the fence, and went in to the computer to look for cocoon images. When I got back out there, it was smashed. I’m not sure how it happened. If it was a Monarch, I’m sorry, but I will have more. And can’t Monarch butterflies communicate to their eggs not to attach their cocoon to edible plants that might be harvested? It took some searching, but, I found the cabbage worm, exactly the same color as the celery stem.

Cabbage Looper on Celery Stem

Cabbage Looper on Celery Stem

I removed all the celery leaves from around the six plants and had enough for a small batch of green vegetable juice.

Fresh Picked Celery Leaves

Fresh Picked Celery Leaves

Next, I juiced them along with organic zucchini and carrots (from the market) and my own parsley.

Celery Leaves Going into Juicer

Celery Leaves Going into Juicer

However much juice I make, the proportions are always about 50% celery, 25% zucchini, 15% carrot, and 10% parsley. I blend in a tablespoon of raw (unheated) honey per quart, to make it drinkable, ha!

Green Vegetable Juice by Kaye Kittrell 2012

Green Vegetable Juice

And down that one went. If I could only get my carrots, zucchini, celery and parsley to grow all year, all at the same time, I’d be in business! Thanks for stopping by. Watch for the next episode of “Late Bloomer” tomorrow, “Kaye’s Tomato Story!” – Kaye

Rhino Beetle Grub

Fig Beetle Grub, on It’s Back

At least, I think that’s what I just dug up! However, a Fig or June Beetle was in my garden this summer, and could have laid eggs, but I think this grub is too large. Please correct me if I’m wrong. You can see the size measured against my finger near the end of the clip. It is dragging itself on it’s back, as those are it’s short legs sticking up in the air. And it can move fast! I plan to gift this to my neighbor’s chickens.

Click here for video on Late Bloomer Show Facebook page. Thanks for stopping by! Isn’t the natural world amazing? 🙂 – Kaye

I thought it might be interesting to go out the morning after my “Evening Observations” post to see what I missed last night. Turns out, there were a few things, particularly this critter lounging on my red cabbage. That notch of missing leaf just beside it’s head was in its mouth.

Imported Cabbage Worm Larvae on Red Cabbage

Imported Cabbage Worm Larva on Red Cabbage

I call a lot of caterpillars cabbage worm, and I know I’m not accurate all the time. This one appears to be. They are fuzzy, green with a yellow stripe, and this one was about 1 1/4 inches long. When threatened, they curl up in a ball, like a Roly-Poly. Caterpillars are one long intestine, and they eat and defecate constantly in their short life before metamorphosis. As I see cabbage moths in my yard all the time, I know to watch out for these. They’ll eat anything.

Imported Cabbage Worm Larva Coiled on a Stick

Imported Cabbage Worm Larva Coiled on a Stick

This cabbage grew back from a stalk that I left in the ground in June, after I harvested my last one. Something’s been eating on it, maybe more of these, and nibbled off the head, so I’m probably going to pull it out and start over with cabbage when it gets cooler. As I went in for a closer look to see if there were more caterpillars, I came face to face with a pile of its feces. Like I said, one big pooping machine.

Imported Cabbage Worm Larva Frass

Imported Cabbage Worm Larva Frass

Next, I moved on to my watermelon patch. I’ve cut out so many drying up vines, that I’m starting to lose hope. There are several blooms still and a few little babies. If I can just get the watering right, maybe there will be time for these to develop.

Baby Watermelon

Baby Watermelon Sprout with Bloom

I’ve got five of these almost this size. This is the biggest. As I am the world’s worst at discerning when a melon is ripe (I always defer to the produce person at the market, and they are not always right, either), I have no idea whether I should cut it now. Clearly, they are never going to get as big as they were supposed to get.

Baby Watermelon on Vine

Baby Watermelon on Vine

I’ve got quite a bit of squash action, still. Here are blooms on my zucchini.

Green Zucchini Blooms

Green Zucchini Blooms

And a half dozen zucchinis ready to harvest.

Green Zucchini

Green Zucchini Growing

And there is life left in the patty pan squash on the parkway with new blooms and leaves.

Patty Pan Squash with Bloom

Patty Pan Squash with Bloom

And the little purple pepper plant is finally starting to produce. There are three little black ones and one red one.

Purple Bell Pepper, Red Stage

Purple Bell Pepper, Red Stage

I would happily spend the day in the garden, but my next episode,”Growing Tomatoes,” would never get finished. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

I  just planted celery seedlings in the parkway where my corn was. I read in “Golden Gate Gardening” that celery would like to be planted in pure compost if it can get it, so I obliged with a whole bag of biodynamic compost between six seedlings. It also needs a lot of fertilizer, so I mixed up 4 cup worm castings, 2 cups organic vegetable fertilizer, and 1/2 cup citrus fertilizer (because celery likes slightly acidic soil as do citrus trees). I sunk each seedling in a pile of compost in the middle of the crater, spread the fertilizer around each, watered deeply, then covered in compost.

Was I deterred by the fact that the book said celery is a demanding vegetable? Heck, no! Celery needs to be kept moist all the time, so I figured I plant them right beside my neighbor’s sprinklers which overspray about two feet into my garden bed, so it will get an additional watering every day! Just as I was scooping in some compost, a huge, green beetle flew right by my face and plopped on the mound of compost and started burrowing in the wet soil. I ran for my camera and it was buried when I got back in less than a minute. I uncovered it, and took a couple of shots as it was madly burrowing back in.

I didn’t know if this inch-long, bejeweled creature was friend or foe, so I captured it in a jar and ran to the internet. There are tons of great photos of emerald green beetles, but this one happens to be a Fig Beetle. They will dive bomb right at you, and suck juice out of figs. There are no fig trees around here, so I’m guessing, according to a post I read on Encino 411, that the beetle larvae metamorphosed in the compost and opening the bag set it free. (Then, I captured it again, oops.) Not sure what I should do with it now.

The parkway is coming together nicely. I planted milkweed and yarrow along the curb where the sunflowers were. I’ve still got two Japanese melon, one Japanese cucumber, and the Patty Pan squash, and now the celery.

There’s room for a couple more plants. Since this is my best sun, I’m going to pop in the two ‘Stupice’ heirloom tomato seedlings I bought yesterday. This variety, I was told, came from the Czech Republic, and has a short growing season, can take a milder climate, and that I could still get tomatoes this year. So, I’m giving it a shot.

Thanks for dropping by! Have a great Sunday! – Kaye

I was doing my nightly reading of “Golden Gate Gardener” last night trying to find out what was wrong with my lemon tree. Though I have more than a dozen green lemons developing, the leaves don’t look so good. I decided to take a closer look, and this is one of the things I found. On the undersides of a few leaves, I saw cottony puffs and an ant madly racing around. Upon closer inspection, they appear to be aphids that the ant has spun webs around. Aphids are food for ants, but I didn’t want to take a chance this ant couldn’t eat them all. I gave the leaves a quick wash, and removed infected leaves.

While I was out with my camera, I moved to the parkway, as I had also been reading about cucurbit pests. And this is what I found. Kind of a mold on the backs of leaves of the Japanese cucumber. I just harvested two good ones two days ago, but the leaves all look pretty bad.

There are a host of issues here.

Something is eating the leaves, like a cucumber beetle, though I’ve never seen one, or, the small birds eat holes in the leaves like they do on my sunflowers.

At this point, I saw tiny beetles on the backs of leaves running around. I first thought they might be a pest, but thought they might be a tiny version of a lady beetle, which eats the mold, so I left them alone. It took blowing the photos up on the computer before I was sure they were beneficial lady beetles.

Here’s one in a larvae stage. They are only about 1/16 of an inch long.

This disease eats right through the leaves from the back to the front, I think.

This lady beetle was racing around on the back of a leaf covered in this waxy mold-like stuff. I hope it eats it all!

This, I’m convinced, in some kind of leaf miner. I read they have several stages as they burrow through the leaf, getting larger and larger. That’s pretty evident if you look at the beginning of the line and the end of it. It would appear that it has metamorphosed and emerged from the leaf at the fat end.

Moving on to my Japanese melon right beside the cucumber, I’m hoping these dents do not mean this emerging melon is infected with some bug!

The leaves don’t seem infected, but they are lacy from something eating on them. I think it’s the birds, as I saw what I think is bird poop. My patty pan squash is but three feet away, and once again, the powdery mildew is back!

There are white spots on front and back. Time to spray with my milk solution again. Two beautiful squash are growing, so it doesn’t seem to be slowing growth, yet.

Thank God for the pollinators. There was a bee clinging to this leaf in the breeze, and when it would settle, the bee would groom itself. You can see its back covered in pollen. There are a few big blooms on the patty pan squash, so, I guess it was about to dive back into the bloom.

I guess it was a good thing I didn’t know about cucurbit diseases and pests before I started. After researching diseases and pests online for a couple of hours, I felt a little queasy. For sure, I learned that cucurbits with certain diseases must be removed from the garden, and not planted in the same spot the following year. The book said you have to plant them at least a quarter mile away, haha! My front garden is tiny, so I’m not sure if I will be able to plant cucurbits next year. We shall see. Gardening is an adventure! Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

I started at seven A.M, hand-watering. When it’s quiet out, and you take a good look at how things are in the garden, you get drawn in. First, I tidied up my tomato and watermelon vines (it seems there’s more of that to do every day now with the summer winding down), then I lopped off the milkweed pods before those fuzzy things are everywhere attempting to reseed. When I moved from the planted Cinderella Weed to the Tropical Milkweed in pots, still waiting to be planted (today!), I noticed the pods on one plant were covered in aphids. Aphids come in different colors, by the way.

If I understood the life cycle of the aphid better, I’d know what is going on in this photo. The yellow (presumably larvae) weren’t really moving much, and there are these little white bugs emerging. If those were parasitic wasps coming out of them, it would be awesome, but I don’t know if I got that lucky. Probably it’s just the mature aphid. I lopped off these pods and put them in the garbage. I know I never saw a Monarch butterfly come in my yard, so they haven’t found my milkweed, yet.

Then, there’s this. I stuck a Hass Avocado pit in a seed cup months ago and left it in the kitchen and watered it when I thought of it, which wasn’t often, and it never did anything, then, about a month ago, I moved it to the windowsill on the front porch, where it gets some morning light, and regular watering. Look what is emerging! I asked C.L. who knows a thing or two about avocados, and he said if I plant it in the hot sun right now, it could burn it. So, this is one of those garden decisions that needs to be made, where and when to plant it. I would REALLY like my own avocado tree, but I have so little space!

Checking in with my emerging carrot sprouts in one barrel, which were looking good, I decided it was time to get the other barrel replanted in carrot seed after the radish-carrot experiment failed.

I used the planting lettuce method in Late Bloomer – Episode 7 that I used in the barrel of carrots above.

Linden decided to join me, and roll on the warm bricks. Yes, she has blue eyes.

What a show-off. She knew I was shooting her picture! Doesn’t she look just like Louis’ cat in episode 5 of “Suits”??

Okay, one more turn, and back to the business of gardening.

While we were on a roll :), I also planted Arugula in this pot. Same method. I keep them out of the sun till they sprout, so I can keep them wet. The sun will dry out the towel in an hour or two. Carrot seed must stay wet to germinate, which can take weeks! Arugula will sprout within a week.

Thanks for stopping by! Leave me a comment, advice welcome! – Kaye

Is this some insect, nutritional defect, or fungus? Or, some alien hieroglyphic that I need to interpret? Whatever, it seems to be all over my garden. Cucumber 1 (Bushy):

Cucumber 2 (A&C Pickling):

Cucumber 3 (Japanese Climbing):

Japanese Melon:

Patty Pan Squash:

Yellow and Green Bean:

Even the Nasturtium!

These plants are in different soils in different areas, albeit a few feet to three yards away from one another. I pulled out the bean plant as it just looked awful. I gave plant food and more watering for the cucumbers and melon and the newer leaves look better, and I cut off a ton of squash leaves, most of which were covered in white spotty mold. Your advice is welcome! Thanks for reading. – Kaye

When my watermelon patch (about 6’x6″ with seven plants of baby watermelon) started showing fruit, I could count at least 50 little green balls emerging.  Now, it seems like things are amiss.

Several are misshapen. (I only have about ten round ones. I ate the first, and it was pretty good.)

Or shriveling up before they develop. There were four potential melons on this vine that dried up.

Could be inconsistent watering (I am rather stingy with water in water-strapped L.A.), or possibly a bug, though, I haven’t seen any.

Speaking of bugs, this metallic blue dome looked like a drop of liquid blue paint, till I got down beside it and could see legs. About half the size of a regular ladybug, it’s evidently a lady beetle as well. That’s my fingertip for scale.

I went to check the tag on my blueberries to see how long they produce (since I’m not getting any) and opened the tag to find this cabbage worm. It was already nestled in webbing in the folded card. I didn’t realize I was focusing on the back end.  Soon, it started moving from the other end. Sorry to disturb! You’ll see this worm in action in a future episode of “Late Bloomer.”

As I was capturing the cabbage worm, this critter ran up to see what was going on. I saw a photo like this on internet, but, it wasn’t identified. Know what it is? It was about a half inch long. It got away before I could squish it.

Some good news. Loads of tomatoes on the way.

Hundreds of cherry tomatoes, on my one plant.

Thanks for reading! – Kaye

I spotted this on a sunflower leaf about 8PM last night, and didn’t realize what I was looking at. I believe this is the back end.

John Dunstan’s “Total Metamorphosis” video makes it quite clear that this is one stage of a ladybug transformation. This little creature was racing along beside the one above, which wasn’t moving.

If I’d realized they were beneficials, I would have not deposited the leaf with the emerging ladybug in the recycling bin! 😦 Thanks for reading! – Kaye

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