Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Lingering Bounty of Gardening

The gardening season is pretty much over here in NE Indiana, other than cold-hardy crops such as mustards, kale, etc. (or covered crops which we do not have) but a few of our plants are still hanging on and are providing nectar sources for some of the still lingering pollinators.

A few dandelions bloomed recently and there is always some sort of pollinator taking in their nectar; good reason to let these little plants grow...not to mention the vitamins contained in the tasty greens or the delicious wine the blooms produce.

We've not turned our compost pile in a while for a number of reasons, but by not doing so we've watched closely the insects as they glean vitamins and minerals from the decomposing fruit and vegetables and were able to capture this cricket chewing on and hence helping to decompose a napkin.

This fly looks like perhaps he does not know when to stop eating...

The calendula is still flowering randomly and is now the most sought-after nectar source. It was not a preferred source in the peak bloom of summer. Here cucumber beetles and tarnished plant bugs forage...

more cucumber beetles...

and a honeybee!
The last find of the day startled me and obviously startled the ladybug even more. The bug (yes, a true bug) featured in the last three photographs is a Wheel Bug, a member of the Assassin Bug family. These are large bugs (1 1/2 inches!) that predate on other insects...good ones for your garden though in this case, the ladybug is a good one too. Our fennel, the plant that readily supported black swallowtail caterpillars this summer, is now decomposing and must be a good source of vitamins and minerals because lots and lots of arthropods are consuming its foliage. This wheel bug found a good area to hunt. Wheel bugs can inflict a painful stab on human fingers so we respected this guy with a bit of distance.

Wow, what a unique creature! Would we have had a hospitable place for him/her if we'd turned our lingering plants under?


  1. Mal and I saved a Wheel Bug from the stream at the park a couple weeks ago! They are interesting bugs. . .

  2. I have seen these guys around my place, but they were strangers to me. Thanks for giving them a name.


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