More bee hotels for your collection

Wherever I travel, my eyes are sharply on the lookout for housing. Housing for birds and bees and butterflies, that is. This summer, my little eye spied this big bee and, perhaps, butterfly condo in the Smithsonian Gardens in Washington, D.C.. With all those living options, it would be the perfect home for all kinds of solitary, […]

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Meet my new pal, the bold jumper

Holy smoke, that’s a big spider! Take a look the maple key in the picture below for scale. Fat and furry, it surprised me in the garden yesterday. Naturally, I wanted to know: friend or foe? Friend, as it turns out! It’s the bold jumping spider (Phidippus audax), and it’s more interested in stalking the bugs […]

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What’s wrong with my ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea?

Last year around this time (late April or early May) I noticed something strange about the leaves on shoots of my old, reliable ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas. They looked glued together into a puffy, leaf-shaped balloon. What was wrong? In fact, they were “glued” or rather tightly stitched together at the edges. Turns out the culprit was the larva of […]

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An Icky Honeydew You Don’t Want

For the last few months I’ve been battling scale on an large indoor-wintering abutilon, or Flowering Maple. I’d been occasionally picking the scale off by hand, or with a microfiber cloth, (which works quite well) and I was (sort of) keeping them at bay. I’m a pretty experienced scale squisher, and I thought I had […]

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White spots on your pine needles? Uh oh.

If you see white dots like these on pine needles, you might mistake them for something the tree produces itself, like pine gum. I did at first, too. But nope. Dots that look like small splashes of white paint or resin on the needles are the winter homes of an insect pest called pine needle scale (Chionaspis pinifoliae). These critters […]

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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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