On ants, aphids and mutualism

I’d wanted to tell you a cool thing about ants and aphids. These are Norway maple aphids (Periphyllus lyropictus), one of 4,000+ aphid species. (Who knew the annoying little sap-suckers were so specialized!) They were visible on the top of the leaf, not their usual worksite on the underside. See how they’re in a nice, neat herd? The “cool thing,” if […]

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Up close and personal with pollen

An almost-wordless Wednesday post from my photo archives – in the days when I could shoot these things freehand, simply by breathing out and holding my breath. My hands aren’t quite as steady without a tripod today. Blame the heavy lens. No idea what the bee species is, but it was really getting into the […]

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Coneflower rosette gall mites

The more we plant something, the more something comes along to eat it. Usually something buggy. In the case of coneflowers (Echinacea), this green, tufted centre in the centre of the disk is a sign of some undesirable noshing going on. The culprit is an unnamed type of eriophyid mite, a breed of microscopic, sucking […]

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Bee hotels for your wish list

My adventures in urban wild bee hospitality have appeared on the blog before. Right now, other than some passive carpenter bee action on our shed, I’m out of the bee hotel business. But I’d like to get back into it. Over my garden travels, I’ve been collecting bee hotel pictures for inspiration. Hoping these inspire you, […]

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What’s that orange bug on your milkweed?

It’s simple. Those orange bugs on your milkweed are milkweed bugs! And these little fellas (or gals) above are one of the later-stage nymphs of the insect. Milkweed bugs come in two versions. Large Milkweed Bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) and Small Milkweed Bugs (Lygaeus kalmii), both of which feed on the seeds of milkweed plants. You can […]

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Will fine plastic netting deter deer?

The Minneapolis gardener who installed this sash of mesh netting across her front garden bed (can you see it?) told me it was to discourage deer. I don’t have a deer problem, but it looked simple and cool. I neglected to ask her one question: Does it work? Have you tried this technique? And how would you […]

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Sadly, my monarch did not hatch

Before I left for Minneapolis, this little guy caused me some excitement. I always turn over the leaves of the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) looking for potential babies. Every once and a while, like this time, a Monarch makes me an expectant parent (or expectant foster parent). But, sad to say, when I got back […]

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Love-Hate: Concrete squirrels

I keep telling my friend D that she can give these to me We’ve had a word or two or even three to say about squirrels on this blog. Yet, for a gardener who wages a constant (non-violent) war on squirrels, I must confess to having a perverse squirrelophilia. For example, I always claim the […]

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