August’s Yellow Flowers

Sunflowers_RedLionSWA-LoganCo-CO_LAH_2282

What is it with August and yellow flowers? Last week Pete and I revisited the Yampa River Botanic Park in Steamboat Springs. As I expected, the gardens were in full bloom—dazzling in the clear mountain sunshine. As I strolled the pathways, I noticed expanses of Coreopsis, clumps of Rudbeckia, beds of sulfur-yellow buckwheat (Eriogonum), and sprays of goldenrod. And that’s when I realized that the majority of blooms were in some shade of yellow.

Continue reading “August’s Yellow Flowers”

You (probably) Don’t Need an Exterminator

Monarch Butterfly_DBG-CO_LAH_9197The neighborhood where I live seems to be a magnet for door-to-door salespeople selling services. One company in particular has been particularly persistent in their marketing attempts—an exterminator.

The first time they rang the doorbell, I politely but firmly told the guy I did not want my yard sprayed. I consider a diverse arthropod population to be a sign of a healthy landscape. I particularly want insects around to feed the birds I feed. Moreover, I had just planted a pollinator garden, designed to attract bees, butterflies, moths, and other fascinating creatures;. The last thing I wanted was to kill my invited guests.

Continue reading “You (probably) Don’t Need an Exterminator”

Good Guys Flies

EmeraldValley-EPC-CO_LAH_0773fSomeone left the screen door open, and suddenly our house is full of annoying, buzzing, flies. They circle the kitchen while I’m cooking, tangle with my hair while I’m sitting at my computer, and zoom past my Kindle when I’m reading in the evening. I have to ask, did we really have to have flies, God?

Continue reading “Good Guys Flies”

Tiger Beetles, Take 2

Green Claybank Tiger Beetle_LakePuebloSP-CO_LAH_1514

We may not live in the deepest, darkest jungle, but that doesn’t stop me from hunting tigers—tiger beetles, that is. Last year, I wrote about my first tiger beetle hunt. Earlier this month we repeated the adventure.

Continue reading “Tiger Beetles, Take 2”

Garden Advice: Don’t Buy Ladybugs

Ladybug_XG-CoSpgsCO_LAH_9349Every gardener knows that ladybugs are “good” bugs because they eat “bad” bugs. Educated gardeners know that ladybugs are actually beetles, and that they eat aphids, scale insects, immature beetles and true bugs, and mites. The adults are efficient predators; the larvae are even more voracious. No wonder we want lady beetles in our gardens!

The simplest way to get lots of these colorful beetles is to buy them, and many people do just that. It’s a huge industry. However, buying ladybugs is largely a waste of money, and may even harm the environment! There are better ways to attract not only ladybugs but other beneficial insects as well.

Continue reading “Garden Advice: Don’t Buy Ladybugs”

Hunting Wild Tigers

Oblique-lined Tiger Beetle_LakePuebloSP-CO_LAH_5033Last Saturday, I participated in a tiger hunt. These tigers are fearsome predators, pursuing their hapless victims with incredible speed, and I was armed not with a gun, but with my camera. Happily, however, the only danger I was in was that of sunburn. The tigers we were hunting were the five local members of the large tiger beetle family, Cicindelinae.

Continue reading “Hunting Wild Tigers”

Garden Advice: Marigold Myths

Tagetes_Marigold_DBG_LAH_7897It sounds too good to be true. Not only are marigolds pretty, but growing in your vegetable garden will protect your harvest from nematodes, beetles, hornworms, whiteflies, squash bugs, thrips, hornworms, and even rabbits. I know it must be so, because I read it on the internet:

  • “French marigolds repel whiteflies and kill bad nematodes. Mexican marigolds are said to offend a host of destructive insects and wild rabbits as well.”
  • “Annual Marigolds can be used anywhere to deter Mexican bean beetles, squash bugs, thrips, tomato hornworms, and whiteflies. They are also known to repel harmful root knot nematodes (soil dwelling microscopic white worms) that attack tomatoes, potatoes, roses, and strawberries.”
  • “Marigolds also repel pests, including beetles and nematodes.”

Gee, if it’s that easy, why not? Marigolds are easy to start from seed, grow quickly, thrive almost anywhere, and produce tons of sunny yellow and orange blooms all summer long.

Continue reading “Garden Advice: Marigold Myths”