The plants are green and blooming, despite the harsh winter, late freezes, and dry spring.
One of the Pale-Leaf Yuccas has two tall flower spikes.
And one mysteriously writhing flower stalk.
Bluebonnets and Gulf Coast Penstemon bloom around the Giant Hesperaloe.
I finally divided the Brakelights Red Yucca that I bought a couple of months ago. I was hoping to get at least three plants and ended up with five. All divided easily and should survive. I planted three near the Giant Hesperaloe and still need to decide where the other two will go. They are in their own pots until I decide.
But looks can be deceiving. Amid all the beauty of spring, destructive little beasts are lurking around the garden and feasting on some of the plants.
Large numbers of the beetles feed on Missouri Evening Primrose in the front garden. I think they are flea beetles.
Here is a close up of the beetles on the Missouri Evening Primrose. Interestingly, in the back garden, they are feeding on some wild Gaura that I collected from a field and they are not touching the Stemless Evening Primrose, a close relative to the Missouri Evening Primrose.
Four lined plant bugs suck the juices out of the leaves which results in damage that looks similar to a disease, rather than an insect attack. They are quite fond sages. Damage to Autumn Sage is pictured above. They are also attacking the Mealycup Sage and Big Red Sage.
In addition to the sages, the Four lined Plant Bugs are feeding on the Gayfeather. A couple of them are barely visible in this photo. Had I seen them when I was taking the picture, I would have attempted to squash them between my finger and thumb. They are hard to catch because they drop to the ground when threatened. I spot sprayed the flea beetles and four lined plant bugs with light horticultural oil in an attempt to get them under control. That is the strongest insecticide that I will use and it seems to have helped some. I have to be careful with the spray because I do not want to hit any good bugs or predators of these pests. This fall, I will put out some beneficial nematodes to see if that will help control the overwintering pests.
Another pest attacking the Gayfeather and a few other plants are spittlebugs. The nymphs live in the foamy mass they create on stems and suck juices from the stems. Fortunately, they usually do not cause much damage. I will try to get rid of them by washing them off with a stream of water from the hose.
In addition to the flea beetles, hummingbird moth caterpillars are quickly consuming the Gaura leaves and flowers. It is interesting that they are different colors.
I don't mind this caterpillar too much because I will eventually get the benefit of more of the moths in the garden and more opportunities to try to take a good picture of one. This blurry one is feeding on the flowers of Gulf Coast Penstemon.
Too bad for the caterpillars that they were discovered by a female grackle over the weekend. She ate just about every one of them. Who knew grackles ate anything besides french fries in parking lots?
I invite many caterpillars into the garden by planting the host plants that they eat. One example is bronze fennel which supports black swallowtail caterpillars. In this example, the damage caused by the caterpillars is barely noticeable.
Some insects can be a pest in the garden, but they are usually just a temporary annoyance. The flea beetles and four lined plant bugs should disappear as quickly as they appeared and new growth should replace the damaged leaves.
This is the second year these two insects have attacked the garden. I hope biological warfare this fall with beneficial nematodes will keep their numbers in check next year.
Is your garden getting bugged too?
Is your garden getting bugged too?