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One of the best scarecrows we ever
used was a kid's toy duck with big eyes (eyes seem to have great
effect) and a motion detector that triggered a quack. We stationed
it at the base of the plant we figured was next on the menu.
- Janet Macunovich -
What's Coming Up #141
We have descended into the garden and
caught three hundred slugs. How I love the mixture of the beautiful
and the squalid in gardening. It makes it so lifelike.
- Evelyn Underhill, theologian and
see What's Coming
The best gardener is a baby killer.
Baby insects are much easier to kill than adults, and haven't yet
developed the big mouths and voracious appetite of the
- Janet Macunovich
Coming Up #95
The families of rabbits
or woodchucks will eat the salad greens just before they are ready
to be picked; I plot ways to kill these animals but can never bring
myself to do it...
- Jamaica Kincaid -
The key to good growing, especially to
keep problems in check, is lots of shaking hands with plants. Don't
just wave hello to them from ten feet away. Go touch them, look
under a leaf or two, and notice the small changes that are the
first signs of trouble.
- Janet Macunovich -
Coming Up #95
Breeze through a garden and you miss a lot, from big bunnies
to tiny sawflies. Stop, shake hands, and look to stay ahead of the
best to smoosh pine sawflies with rubber gloves.
Their guts eventually soak through cloth. Eww.
- Sonja Nikkila, Lessons from
Childhood Apprenticeship -
Below, left: Better, also, to smoosh the black headed
sawflies that plague mugo pines when the insects are tiny. Those
you see here are needle-long, ready to drop off and pupate, and
their damage is all done for the year. Earlier they may even be
knocked off with a hard stream of water. Once down they are
unlikely to find their way back up; too young to pupate, they die
or fall prey to all the hunters on the ground.
Below, right: The sawflies freeze in needle-like posture when
they sense motion. It's surprisingly effective. People often walk
See what it's doing -- is it looking
at you? That's a predator insect.
- Dr. David Smitley, Michigan State
University Entomology -
What's Coming Up #149
Predator insects are great to have on your side. They
don't know to back down, only to keep eating. When you see a
preying mantis cock its head at you, or your cat, it's doing what
comes naturally. Plant eaters hide or scuttle away. Predators
On every stem, on every leaf,... and
at the root of everything that grew, was a professional specialist
in the shape of grub, caterpillar, aphis, or other expert, whose
business it was to devour that particular part.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes -
Coming Up #129
To the preceding quote we can add,
"...and on the heels of each one was at least one kind of predator
insect." Let predators like ladybugs and spiders work for you --
don't use broad spectrum, kill-everything insecticides.
Plants are the original chemists.
Their sophistication makes DuPont and Monsanto look like little
kids with chemistry sets.
- Allen Lacy, in The Inviting
Coming Up #90
Insects leave (Madagascar periwinkle)
Catharanthus roseus out of their diets. So, for that
matter, do deer. The reason is that the plants are loaded with
alkaloids so potent that they are the source of vincristine and
vinblastine. These are drugs important in routines of chemotherapy
for treating Hodgkin's disease and certain forms of leukemia...
- Allen Lacy, in The
Gardener's Eye and Other Essays -
see What's Coming
Below: Catharanthus roseus, Madagascar
Internal chemistry is key when plants must fend attackers
that invade their tissues and work from within. Galls on leaves
rarely cause the plant serious harm. Most otherwise healthy plants
use their chemical prowess to put a damper on the gall-making
pests' lifestyle and reproductive rate,
Your fences need to be horse-high,
pig-tight and bull-strong.
- Chubb Harper -
Coming Up #178
'What do you do with slugs, Georgie?'
'Pretend you don't see them.'
- E.F. Benson, Lucia in
London, 1927 -
Although Helix aspera, the
common or garden snail, was an accidental import, its ravages led
to the introduction of that enthusiastic consumer of slugs and
snails -- the hedgehog.
- from A History of Gardening in
New Zealand by Bee Dawson
These characters mugging for the camera are the European
brown-lipped snail (a.k.a. grove snail, wood snail, Cepaea
nemoralis), a pesty emigrant to the New World. We made the
mistake of setting a bounty on them in our yard so the kids would
collect them. The approach was not a mistake -- our kids rose to
the challenge and often deputized friends. Our error was
in setting an individual bounty rather than per-pail or per-pound.
We thus made ourselves the chore of counting hundreds of snails. No
less than an accurate count would satisfy those highly competitive
'What sort of insects do you
rejoice in, where you come from?' the gnat inquired.
'I don't rejoice in insects at all,' Alice explained.
- Lewis Carroll, Through the
One of the tussock
moth caterpillars (maybe the white banded tussock moth,
Halysidota tessellaris), and the "is that some kind of
hummingbird?" insect known as a hummingbird hawk moth. Both are fun
to observe. Neither is likely to do any significant damage to your
garden plants as a leaf-eating caterpillar, and no damage as a