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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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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Your garden needs more frogs

You’re lucky if you have frogs in your garden. They help keep down the bugs. Even metal ones. Frogs and toads, like ferns, usually prefer moist spaces. (You can help by offering them a toad house for shelter from hot, baking sunshine. Make one easily using a broken plant pot, set on its side like […]

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Faves: Helenium autumnale

Helenium autumnale  – that’s Helen’s flower, to you. Not sneezeweed. Geez. Enough about me. Let’s talk about Helenium. I don’t know what variety this is (perhaps its short stature points to ‘Ruby Dwarf’ aka ‘Rubinzwerg’), but I wish it were growing in my garden. Despite what they say about the need for full sun and moist soil, […]

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Bee, my love, for Earth Day 2011

Study nesting box for wild solitary bees   Something special arrived in our back yard on Earth Day 2011: a nesting box for wild cavity-nesting solitary bees such as mason (Osmia) and leaf-cutter bees (Megachile). It’s one of 220 scattered in private and public spaces, including green roofs, around the city, as part of a […]

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Spiderlings. It sounds so cute.

Look who’s hanging out at my place! Spiderlings! Isn’t that a great word? On the weekend, I found this little cluster of what appeared to be eggs. Then I noticed the eggs had legs. A (gentle) poke with a twig sent the whole bunch scurrying into square dance mode. They’re very pretty; yellow, with a […]

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Carpenter bees: I’m a bee-leaver

After yesterday’s heartless post on the subject of aphids and leafrollers, it’s incumbent of me [oops, I mean: on me] to say: not all bugs are bad bugs. Not even bugs with bad-boy reputations. Even in this day of catastrophic bee decline, Google carpenter bees, for example, and 99% of the results will be about […]

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Love thy (scary) neighbour

There’s no two ways about it. The most beneficial bugs for your garden are often the least, well, good-looking. Spiders, centipedes; it’s all those legs! All that unpredictable scurrying! All those alien body parts. Nevertheless, I repress my instinctive shudder when they appear because I know they really do provide a useful service: pest control. […]

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The Flutter-bying of Monarch Butterflies

Just popped out to get some fresh air and a break from the computer and was thrilled to see a Monarch butterfly on my milkweed. [Ed: Of course, the flowers in these shots are goldenrod or Solidago, not milkweed – but when the camera is missing, the blogger improvises.] It fluttered away when I came near, […]

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