At the risk of getting ahead of myself before I catch you up to real time in the new native garden series, I want to share some observations from my garden today. As I’ve mentioned before, one of the primary reasons I’m creating a garden full of native plants is to provide food for our native insects at all stages of their lives, from larva to adult. As I get started with the garden, I’ve been eagerly documenting every insect I can find on my plants. These are just five of the species I found today as I did yard work.
This first one was near the garden but not feeding, at least while I was watching. This is a tiger bee fly (Xenox tigrinus), and I just found out that it’s a predator of carpenter bees, which probably explains why it’s in my yard — I have plenty of those. This very large fly lays its eggs at the entrance to a carpenter bee tunnel, and when the fly larvae hatch, they find and eat the bee larvae.
I always enjoy learning about the relationships between various insects and plants, so this is a fascinating discovery.
These next four species were all feeding on common boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), one of my favorite native plants. Whenever I see this plant in other places, it’s covered with insects, so I had high hopes for seeing a good variety of bugs when I planted this.
In this picture the boneset is the tall one with white flowers at the back of the bed.
Not only is it pretty, it has a subtle sweet fragrance I adore. So here are four species I found on the boneset today.
First is the stinkbug hunter (Bicyrtes quadrifasciatus) — isn’t that a great name?
I’ve read that this wasp preys on the non-native brown marmorated stinkbug, making it a most welcome insect in my yard!
Next up is another wasp, the grass-carrying wasp (Isodontia mexicana). Interestingly enough, this species sometimes uses abandoned carpenter bee nests for its own young. One more inter-species relationship discovered today.
Next up is yet another wasp, the beewolf (Philanthus gibbosus), a species I hadn’t noticed before today.
And finally, one of my favorite diurnal moths, the lovely little ailanthus webworm moth (Atteva aurea). They’re very common but I always get a thrill when I find them.
I had trouble getting a sharp photo today because it was breezy and this guy was moving pretty quickly as he crawled around the flowers to feed. But just look at the pretty patterns of orange, black, and yellow. Most of us are well aware of the beauty of butterflies, but fewer people notice that there are lots of gorgeous moths as well. That’s probably because most moths fly at night, but there are quite a lot of them that are daytime feeders (diurnal) too.
So there you have it — my nascent native garden is already proving its value to the ecosystem!