Yesterday, on the 15th, I posted many of the flowers that are blooming in my garden for the monthly Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
. But plants are not the only thing living in my garden; a closer inspection reveals another thriving living community perfect for today's ABC letter of I
Every one of my flowerbeds is virtually humming throughout the sunlit hours with the activity of the pollinators, without whom there would be no flowers.
Honeybees, the most well-known of the pollinators, are difficult to capture for this amateur photographer as their wings are in constant motion.
Often times the photo of a small bee is pure luck, as I try to capture an image of a bloom only to discover later while downloading the photos that a little winged creature has been caught as well.
Even more difficult to photograph than the honeybees are what we refer to as "sweat bees," which is a name applied to many different bees, all belonging to the family Halictidae
. They tend to hover over a bloom and move quickly from one to another, so I was amazed that this photo turned out well.
The bumblebees have to be my favorite, though. Their size makes them easy to spot as they go from flower to flower, sipping the nectar. They are much more accomodating about posing for a photo as well.
Not every insect is welcome in my garden, however. I forgot to include a photo of my Knockout roses on my Bloom Day post yesterday; they are finally beginning to bloom again after an early bout with sawflies and then the ravishing by the Japanese beetles. Now that the beetles have finally left, they are recovering enough to bloom once again . . . but wait a minute, that's another Japanese beetle! Doesn't he know the rest of his clan has left for the summer . . . I think.
I'm also not too fond of grasshoppers, which can destroy foliage not only in the garden, but in large numbers can also cause destruction in the nearby fields of corn and soybeans.
I am no expert on insects and certainly cannot identify all those I see. These resting on a black-eyed Susan appear to be some kind of wasp, but I'm not sure. When it comes to wasps, I don't get too close to investigate:)
Nor can I identify these two insects. Hmmm, do you sense a theme here? No wonder I have so many insects in my garden!
Another mystery bug . . . alone, this time:) Rather blurry, but I am hoping that someone can identify it for me. It was the most brilliant shade of blue.
This is an insect that I can identify, and one that is more than welcome in my garden--the praying mantis. Last year, I had a whole community of different types of mantids in my garden and became fascinated with these "good bugs." I learned a great deal about them, which you can read about in a post I did last summer if you are interested in knowing more. This year sightings have been few, a phenomenon I can't explain.
With some insects, it is easier to find the trail they leave behind. These shells of the cicadas look like some kind of prehistoric predators, don't they?
Not every insect has wings, and not every plant in my garden is planted for its show of flowers. The butterfly weed, Asclepias Tuberosa, is host to many butterfly larva, including the Monarch butterfly. Although I have seen Monarchs floating through the trees and the gardens here, I have yet to get one decent photo of one. I do hope this caterpillar is a Monarch and that I will have more adults coming to visit.
Other plants grown primarily for the butterflies are parsley and fennel. This looks like a swallowtail caterpillar, which prefers the fennel.
Another tiny caterpillar I discovered in the fennel is this little black guy with the white stripe. This is when I really wish I had a supermacro feature on my camera! Perhaps someone recognizes him as well.
Aside from the bees, my favorite of all the insects, of course, is the butterfly. For whatever reason, they have been scarce this year, although the garden is thick with yellow sulphurs and cabbage whites right now.
The spotting of any unusual butterfly or moth is cause for celebration and a reason for the photographer to go running about her garden trying not to squash a flower while trying to get one good still photo.
Many flowers are also chosen here because they attract the butterflies. I have been so pleased with the colorful blooms of the cosmos planted this year, but I'm just as happy that the bees and moths like this one enjoy them as well.
Finally, I leave you with one butterfly that has made fewer than its usual appearances here this year--the Painted Lady. It posed quite daintily for me atop a zinnia, another plant that is a butterfly magnet.
For those of you reading this today who aren't gardeners, perhaps you can see another side to my obsession with gardening--it is not only a place of beauty, but also a sanctuary, and a place to observe so many of the small miracles of life.