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Insects

In Praise of the Lowly Zinnia

The other evening a friend and I were sitting on my deck having a happy hour and enjoying my gardens. The backyard is literally filled with flowers, many of them the new, must-haves touted in all the gardening magazines. (I grow them to see how they really stand up to our harsh, Midwest summers.)  Taking in all the choices in all the different beds, she asked me which flower was my favorite. When I gave her my answer her expression said it all –  Zinnia was not the right answer.

An Environmentally Friendly Fall Clean-Up

We had an almost perfect fall weekend  --  skies were bright blue, temperatures were in the mid-60’s, and every once in a while a slight breeze would bring in the subtle scent of fall. Like I said, it was almost perfect, except for the non-stop noise pollution from our nearby neighbor's industrial strength leaf blower. As I stood in front of his house considering a non-confrontational way to beg him for a break from the noise, something even worse than the noise caught my attention. His haul of blown leaves was tightly tied up in literally a dozen black plastic bags waiting to be hauled off to the dump. 

Celebrating Insects

My four-year-old granddaughter sat for a good half hour the other morning completely mesmerized by a caterpillar climbing up a branch. She squealed in delight each time it inched its way up the branch, forming an arch, then straightening out.  She declared that green was her favorite color and asked if she could keep it “forever.”    

I have to admit it --  I wasn’t quite so entranced with the giant tomato hornworm crawling up my heirloom tomato plant, but her fascination and pure joy did strike a chord with me. We all need to be a bit more appreciative of the insect populations that surround us, not just the monarch butterflies and golden honeybees, but all insects -- even the tomato hornworms in our lives. The stark reality is without insects, the planet will cease to exist as we know it. 

Bringing Butterflies Home

Keeping a healthy, robust butterfly garden throughout the fall is an essential tool in not only maintaining our current butterfly population, but also to hopefully increase it. Here are just a few suggestions Embassy designers suggest to their clients.

The Butterfly Dilemma

I am sure that you have heard by now  --  “the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found that adding the monarch butterfly to the list of threatened and endangered species is warranted but precluded by work on higher-priority listing actions. With this decision, the monarch becomes a  candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act…(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Press Release, Dec. 2020)”  Essentially that means that as the number 8 candidate on the list, data on the monarch butterfly will be periodically reviewed until it either reaches the top of the list, recovers or becomes extinct. With the numbers of both Eastern and Western Monarchs dramatically plummeting across the entire North American continent, many question the ruling.

What's Bugging You Today?

Neither an insect nor a “true bug,” this fierce-looking arachnid is a common visitor to the garden. Black and yellow garden spiders (also known as Corn Spiders or Zipper Spiders) and their impressive orb webs (up to two feet in diameter), …

What's Bugging You Today?

By Sandra Nelson   My butterfly weed has been taken over by bright orange bugs. At first glance, I thought they were lady bugs attacking aphids–  about the right size and shape  —  but before long I knew something else was at work. Almost overnight they had changed into slender insects with long black legs …