Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September Brings.....

Since I have not posted in a few days, I have a variety of things to share with you. I always thought the older you got the more life slowed down. I can remember when our girls were young and in school, we had ball games and girl scouts, 4-H and school activities almost every night of the week. Those were also the days when if I wasn't working 2 jobs, I was putting in 10 hour days. And on top of all of that, there were meals to fix, groceries to buy, laundry to do and the always present house to clean. I longingly thought of the days when the girls would be grown and time would be my friend giving me days on end to do what I wanted. It does not happen that way! Well, at least I haven't found that time or those days. Let's just say life seems to be getting busier and I seem to have little control over it. So bear with me dear bloggers, I am having a pity party for myself.

Now, back to gardens. Have any of you noticed these small mounds of dirt in your yards or along your foundations? They started appearing in our yard and along the front edge of our patio about a week ago.

It took me awhile to figure out what or who was doing the digging. I finally saw the culprit but had no idea what it was. After much Googling I found what I was looking for.

The picture is not mine-it's courtesy of the Internet as is the following article.

Ground-digger wasps (GDWs) are very large (slightly larger than a green hornet) passive-aggressive wasps that "build" their nests in dry, unfertilized earth. They are typically large and black-bodied with yellow stripes on their back-end. When fully grown, they measure about one and a half inches (or more) in length with about a one and a quarter-inch wide wing span.
You'll know you've got ground-digger wasp nests in your lawn or garden when you see small granular mounds of dirt piled up anywhere from two-to-five inches in height. At the base of the mound of granular dirt will be a finger-sized hole with a "path" of dirt leading out from it.
The nests will be sporadically built throughout your lawn or garden, but will typically be in the driest areas and/or under longer grass/weeds or under growing flowers. GDWs do not like, but can live in, moist soil.
In the Northeast US, the life-cycles of a ground-digger wasp is about one month beginning in mid-July and ending around mid-to-late August (depending on where you live, their life-cycle may start earlier or later). They go from young adults buzzing about play-attacking with each other, to full-size adults in about two-to-three weeks.
While VERY menacing looking, they are passive stingers---meaning only if VERY threatened will they attack and sting. You'd practically have to start digging into their nests while they're flying about for one to come at you and sting you (so, don't do that!). Otherwise, they tend to buzz about to check you out and to scare you away---AND they probably will the first time you encounter them. Know that they'd rather get on with their business of killing cicadas up in the trees than sting you.

I also read that because this is the year of the 7 year cicadas, we are seeing a lot more of them than usual. And while I don't want to harm them, I am afraid for the little girls when they are here. So not sure what we are going to do.

On a much more pleasant subject-dragonfly corners is a flutter with butterflies. We have Monarchs!


And still more larvae on the butterfly weed.

A beautiful 'Buckeye' posed just long enough for me to get a picture. They do like to flit around. Lisa showed one on her blog and I found out the name. I am learning so much from blogging.

So far this one is unknown to me, but I am sure someone out there knows it. (Rose and I still have not been to the book store to get our identification books!) (Hey, my birthday is coming up...hint hint!)


I told you I had lots to share...


On Saturday, Hubby and I drove to Greenup, IL and found a little winery. They were just starting to pick their grapes. We walked some in the vineyards among the vines that were hanging full of glorious, beautiful purple fruit. Oh and the wine was good too!

We had 2 visitors this weekend. Our youngest granddaughter and Thomas. Thomas is the cat who occasionally comes by our house for a petting and a bowl of cat food. He doesn't stay long and wouldn't dream of coming into the house even though we would like for him to be 'ours'. As for the granddaughter-she spent the night and kept us very entertained.

The foxglove I planted way last spring has finally decided to bloom. I actually thought it had died-I remembered planting it in a different spot! It's a wonder I didn't pull it out as a weed.


I thought I would show you the moonflower-morning glory again. Each day it seems to have more blooms than the day before! It has long since out grown the lightening rod and has spread through the sunflowers, over to the barrel and is now climbing the Sheppard hook several feet behind it. Aiyana was the first one to give me a name for this morning glory. She says it is called heavenly blue. Very appropriate name don't you think?! She also said that while she would love to have this bright blue in her dessert garden it is banned in Arizona. Oh my, I think that means this is very invasive! I will have to be very diligent next spring in pulling up all it's seedlings. And all of this because I wanted a moonflower!
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The rains have missed us all month and we are very dry. I remember telling you that about August I get really tired of watering containers. That is still true, but I made myself stick with it for the entire month. Now, however, I am more than ready for the plants in those containers to go on to the great beyond in plant heaven!
Hope you are enjoying your gardens!

30 comments:

Cheryl said...

Dear Beckie.......I to have found my life is busier than ever and like you I also thought it would slow down at this age....never mind it keeps us in the swing of things.....

Ground digger wasps how wonderful....I love to hear of new bugs.......you are becoming my wildlife gardener of the year.......

Please tell me more about cicadas....I am no familiar with these.....why are you worried about the girls safety....what will the bugs do to them....do they sting??

The foxglove looks as though it is dry.....they are thirsty plants......they will not like prolonged spells of drought......
leave the seedheads on, and let them fall.....you should have a nice patch of them eventually.....remember though that most are bi-annuals.....

Your little granddaughter looks very sweet.....and its nice to see them with animals of any kind....

Lovely post....I always miss them....

Beth said...

It's always so nice to see a post from Dragonflycorner--but I think we all are minimizing our blogging time with the distractions of beautiful weather and gardens--I expect that in the winter we will all have time to catch up and reflect on it all. Enjoy it all, Beckie!

PGL said...

I'm still in the teenage years so anything beyond this looks far away. lol I will have to keep an eye for those ground wasps. Hopefully the animals leave them alone too. Foxgloves are such pretty biennials. They usually have to reseed themselves to come year to year. Heavenly Blue is a weedy morning glory. I'm still pulling seedlings from a couple of years ago, sorry about the moonflower. :(

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Beckie that Morning Glory lives up to its name when blooming. It is gorgeous.

We have one of those wasps hunting cicadas in our garden too. I haven't noticed its nest yet. Now I will know what to look for. There is plenty of dry ground not fertilized in our garden. Ha..

I know what you mean about not having time. It seems like when the kids were young I could manage my time better I guess because it seems I got much more accomplished.

We do learn a lot by blogging and reading blogs. What a fun way to learn!

Rose said...

Amen to your first paragraph!

I have noticed lots of mounds in my yard this summer, but all of them were ant hills--or so I thought. I may have to inspect them a little more closely, but not too close:) Thanks for all the great info on these wasps.

A monarch butterfly--I am sooo jealous! Really, I am happy for you, and a great shot! I read the other day that we should see more of them in the next two weeks as they start their migration south.

Wow, look at that morning glory! I am really going to have to come over to see it.

It's raining!:)

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Beckie. What a sweet kitty.

Your butterfly may be a red spotted purple ( I know, who picks the names for the butterflies? It isn't purple and I could think of 100 better names.)

I had such a hard time getting my foxgloves to reseed. I think I have a couple for next year.
Marnie

Gail said...

Beckie,

Wonderful post...how does my day get filled up with other peoples activities! Thanks for the id on the wasp, he can have at the noisy cicadas all he wants. I knew Marnie could Id the butterfly, thanks, he's been here, too and I wasn't sure what he was!

Your grandaughter and kitty friend are sweet together.

Gail

Cheryl said...

Just me again Beckie....I failed to say this morning.....I love all of those beautiful butterflies.....you must open your garden to the public....people will pay money to see the activity in your garden.............

beckie said...

Cheryl, had to goole some more to find out about the cicadas, also know as a type of locust. They spend most of their lives underground as nymphs eating the roots of trees and grasses. Then emerge every so often-as long as 17 years! as adults who eat any green in sight. So everytime there is a big emergence the ground wasps are out in force. The wasps are what they call passive stingers. They don't go out of their way to get you, but will if threatened. So I worry about the girls trying to play in the same area where their nests are.

The foxglove finally got watered today-it is raining a nice slow all day type rain. Yeah!! I will follow your advice about the seed heads etc.

My garden is not the kind one would pay to see. :) But Rose and I have been amazed at the 'bug' activity we have had this year. We think it's a combination of us noticing them more(due largely to you!) and there may just be more this year. Thanks for the smile!

beckie said...

Thanks, Beth. You know I always enjoy reading your posts! Time does seem to get away from me during the summer. There is just sooo much that needs doing. And of course family takes a lot of my time, but I wouldn't have it any other way. This winter we will spend long hours dicussing our lives and the activities of summer.

beckie said...

PGL, I don't envy you the teen years, but they can be very rewarding and do go by so fast! After Cheryl mentioned the foxgloves as biennials, I kind of remembered that. I hope mine reseed! I may be very sorry about the morning glory-but it WAS marked as a moonflower. I know seeds from invasive plants can live for years.

beckie said...

Lisa, we started out with one little dirt pile and now have at least 20 spread in the yard and at the edge of the patio. In fact there is a dead cicada laying by one now(I ought to take a picture). I thought too about the dry and unfertilized ground. :0 The moring glory is really stunning, but if it's invasive I may have a mess in that bed next year.

Maybe we just had more energy in the days when our kids were small. That and I didn't spend a lot of time blogging!!

beckie said...

Rose, the dirt piles only showed up last week and are bigger than ant hills. I would think with all your trees you would have some of the GDWs going after the cicadas. Good news about the monarchs! I have only seen a couple so far and I love when they migrate thru here. They are just everywhere-so baeutiful.

From the sound of it, I will have lots of seedlings next year of this morning glory. You could plant them in your wildflower bed. Hooray for the rain-and the cooler temps!

beckie said...

Marnie, we have fallen for Thomas and I think he likes us, but as I said he is happy to just visit and not give up his freedom. I wondered if that was a red spotted purple, I posted one several weeks ago but it was a brighter blue. Maybe they lose some as they age. But I knew you would know. :) Rose and I have plans to get the Audobon book. I am wondering about the foxgloves reseeding in this zone-will just have to wait and see.

beckie said...

Gail, thank you! Excactly! Other peoples activities. Of course, I haven't learned to say no very well. I too thought Marnie would know. Did you get your book yet? It's still om my list of to dos.
This granddaughter is very gentle with animals and I think they know it. She is such a joy to have here and never a dull moment. Of course all my 'girls' are delights!

Mountain Mama said...

I've never seen that kind of wasp here in the North west and hope I don't! It sounds scary!

I do love your morning glory. Blue is my favorite color and it is really hard to find a flower that it actually blue like this. Yes it is 'heavenly.'

The older I get the busier I am it seems. Maybe because I am trying to do all the things I wasn't able to when I had a big family to care for and not much money. Then there is the age factor to consider. Dang! I move slower now than I used to so it takes longer to get anything done!

beckie said...

Mountain Mama, The articles I read really didn't say how widespread this wasp is. But evidently it is a good wasp-eating the cicadas that damage tree and grass roots. You are more than welcome to some of the seedlings I am sure to have next year. :)
I know you keep busy especially this summer with all those wedding cakes! I think you are right about age and not moving as fast, and let's face it I spend a lot of time now making lists so I can remember what it is I have to do. I didn't use to have to do that!

Susie said...

Hey Beckie-Be careful not to sit next to your morning glory vine for too long or your hubby may have to rescue you from being completely covered. That little sucker has really grown.

I loved the picture of the grapes. I have never visited a winery before but I think I would love it.

I have heard about those wasps but haven't seen any sign yet.

What a sweet picture of your cute little granddaughter!!

flydragon said...

Even tho your moonflower turned out to be a morning glory, you have to admit it is gorgeous. As far as ground digger wasps go....have never seen one, and don't want to!!!!!!!!

Wendy said...

Hi Beckie - well I must say I agree with almost everyone. Life seems to just fly by and I also thought it would be simpler and slower at this age. Ha! Can't believe all I used to do too - way back when. I do miss the children being at home. But I share their lives in little bits - and through my grandchildren.

Your little granddaughter is a dear. You must have had a nice visit.

And your morning glories are soooooo beautiful!! You could use that pic as a header!

Never been to a winery - but those grapes look luscious - I'll be the wine was too.
Nice post, Beckie, as always... I love catching up with you...

Cosmo said...

Hi, Beckie--I came over from Rose's blog, and I really enjoyed your posting. I'm not completely sure about this, but I'm from Arizona, and I think the reason that the morning glory is illegal is not because it's invasive, but because the seeds are hallucinogenic. I love morning glory, even if they are a little thuggish--mine have always been pretty easy to pull out. Great to discover your blog!

Mary said...

Beckie, your words hit home with me, too. I do long for the days of being busy with children. When I thought the times were difficult and tiring, they were not in comparison to today. I always thought life would slow down in my fifties. That hasn't happened!

For many reasons similar to your latest entry, I haven't had time to blog. But you have done a great job of keeping up.

I haven't seen ground digger wasps here on my dry earth but we are now dealing with fire ants. None in my yard, yet, but you can spot their huge mounds in playgrounds and parks. I'm very careful on where I step!

Hang in there until the end of summer. I, like you, am ready for Autumn as my summer flowers are looking worn out and I'm tired of rolling up the garden hose every night.

Hugs,
Mary

beckie said...

Susie, I never thought about the plant taking over me?:0 It really likes to vine, that's for sure. We have visited several small wineries in the state and have enjoyed them all. Each one is a little different, but most of the people who run them are so friendly. It's interesting to see how they make the wine in fairly small batches. And the grapes growing are always so pretty. Of course the wine tasting is pretty good too.

Flydragon, yes the morning glory is a beautiful plant. I have always wanted a true blue bloomer for the garden. :)I am learning the GDWs are more scary looking than dangerous. In fact, I am becoming much more tolerant of insects and bugs of all kinds.

beckie said...

Wendy, I have thought about using the morning glory as a header-just hadn't gotten it done yet. Part of my 'busy' is family. and I really wouldn't have it any other way. I just need to complain once in a while. I know others(including you) are a lor busier than I. I think it just takes me longer to get things done.

Cosmos, welcome! I always enjoy meeting new people. I hadn't thought about 'that' as a reason the plant is banned.:) I find that funny!

beckie said...

Mary, it's ironic that we are so busy at this time in our lives. And life is so complicated now! I guess we should be thankful that we are in good enough health to be busy. I find it very hard to keep up with the blogging. I love it so and it's a good outlet for me-so a lot of times the laundry or the dishes don't get done. But then I don't have to cook evrey night as my hubby is gone during the week. And I am only working 3 days a week. So why do I complain!! :) I'm not sure how wide spread the GDWs are. Here we are having a lot of the cicadas so I would think that's why we are seeing them. Take care dear Mary. I miss your wonderful posts!

The Garden Faerie said...

Your granddaughter and Thomas are so cute! I had no idea ground digger wasps could make such mounds! And you have a lot of nice things still blooming, too! :)
~ Monica

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Those morning glories look fake they are so blue! I know you didn't intend to plant them, but they are very cheery. I've been finding cicada exoskeletons stuck to some of my plants. They are so ugly. The adult cicada look so much better.

beckie said...

Monica, thanks! I can't really take creadit for her being cute though. :) I was surprised at how big some of the dirt piles are-they sure do work hard at making a big nest.

MMD, I know the color looks like I've been messimg with color adjust! I am sooo happy the camera picks up the blue. as sometimes blues are purple and purles are blue when I download pictures. I am happy with the morning glory and had I wanted it I would have really been bragging. I guess this is what happens sometimes in gardening-happy accidents. The GDWs can have those old cicadas. They are certainly pests!

joey said...

Lots of news! Fun catching up, Beckie (your grandaughter is adorable). Most interesting about the ground-digger wasp ... my husband was attacked last month at the lake. While pruning and dragging limbs, he disturbed the nest and (very allergic to stings and not as agile as in his collage football playing days) pulled a hamstring racing up the hill (poor dear is still sore).

beckie said...

Joey, I hope he is alright! I know the feeljng of not being as agile as I once was. :) When my granddaughters say run with them, I tell them 'Grandma's don't run they only walk!' Hope you are doing okay and had a great visit with old friends.