Now we know what the all the butterfly action is about!
If you have been spending time in your flower gardens recently, you may have noticed many brown and orange butterflies visiting plants to drink nectar. Adults of the Painted Lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui, are gathering at flowers in unusually large numbers to prepare themselves for migration down to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. The Painted Lady butterfly is one of the most widely distributed of all butterfly species, but is not frequently seen in Minnesota most years. According to Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas, this is probably the largest migration he has seen in over 30 years (LJWorld.com September 8, 2017). These larger migrations often follow rainy periods in their wintering grounds.
You can help these butterflies on their journey south by making sure that you have flowers to provide them with the nectar they need to fuel their long journey and keeping these flowers free of pesticides. According to butterfliesandmoths.org these butterflies prefer nectar from composites 3-6 feet high, especially thistles; also aster, cosmos, blazing star, ironweed, joe-pye weed, red clover, and milkweeds. Many of these plants can also serve as food for the caterpillars if the adults make it this far north again next year. Unlike monarch caterpillars, which require milkweed, the painted lady caterpillars have been found on over 100 different host plants, but favorites include thistles and legumes.
If you have not already seen them, a visit to a pollinator garden planted with a variety of blooming flowers is likely to reward you with a stunning showcase of insect beauty.
Light Up the Night
The days are getting shorter as we move into September. The sun is setting just before 8:30pm each day so we need light for evenings spent outdoors. We are featuring light this month, one of the Garden Décor Elements. Sun light is not as strong as it was earlier in the season leaving some solar lights dimmer and batteries not fully charging. Using indoor/outdoor battery powered lights will let you enjoy the outdoors long into the fall. Most use simple AA or AAA batteries that are easy to access and change when needed.
These battery powered lights also include timers in the lanterns and the string lights. When turned on the light will stay on for 5-6 hours, depending on the timer, go off and the come back on at the same time the next day. For example, turn the light on at 8:00pm, it will stay on until 1:00am, go off and then come back on at 8:00pm the following night. Batteries will last a few months with this process. The lanterns are indoor/outdoor and some of the styles can be set on a table or hung up. Many have a ‘candle’ inside to provide the light and others have an interior bulb. The string lights can be hung or woven around a bannister.
Don’t let fall chase you indoors. Let’s Light Up The Night!
Japanese beetles have invaded my yard and my neighbor’s yard. This is a very timely article for me. I hope it provides some helpful information for you.
Shared from: The Sherburne County Master Gardeners Newsletter, August 2017
By Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist
If you had problems last summer with Japanese beetles on your property, the odds are very good they will be pests again this year. In fact some people are already seeing them in high numbers. So the question is what can a gardener do?
Killing individual Japanese beetles is actually easy but the problem is what to do when there are a lot of them. There is no one guaranteed method for treating Japanese beetles. It is best to use as many different management steps as possible to improve your chances of keeping Japanese beetle feeding to tolerable levels.
If you have a small garden, physical removal can be a good option, especially when only small numbers are present. However when Japanese beetles are numerous, it become impractical to handpick them every day. Another non-chemical option is to place a cheese-cloth, or similar type of fabric, around valued plants to exclude the beetles.
There are a few low impact insecticides available. Pyola is effective but this product is short-lived and repeat applications are necessary. Neem oil is also an option. It helps deter Japanese beetles but is less effective when large numbers are present. Both of these products can be toxic to pollinators so be sure to apply them when bees are not active.
There are a variety of residual insecticides that you can use, like permethrin or carbaryl (Sevin). To protect bees, apply insecticides during late evening after bees are no longer active. The products should be dry by morning when bees become active again. If you are trying to protect a large tree, you may need to have it treated by a landscape or tree care company.
Deciding whether to treat trees and other plants will depend on how many of the leaves are still intact. If nearly all of them are already chewed up, then spraying does not help protect the plant. If there are still a lot of unaffected leaves, then it is work your while to treat them.
Keep in mind that trees that are healthy and mature are not going to be killed from just one year of feeding. Trees are quite resilient and can tolerate a lot of defoliation. If trees have been recently transplanted or are already under stress, it is a good idea to protect them from any additional damage.
What you don’t do is just as important as what you do try. Some people like the idea of using Japanese beetle traps to protect their plants. While these traps can capture an impressive number of beetles, the traps are attracting more beetles than they catch. Research has shown that when these traps are used in home gardens, damage is not reduced but in fact is likely to increase. Likewise, companion planting has been demonstrated to ineffective in protecting plants from Japanese beetle feeding.
Garden Décor Elements
It is great to have amazing plants, shrubs and trees but by adding some unique items your yard and garden comes alive in a different way. Adding décor and art items to your garden brings whimsy and interest anywhere it is ‘planted’. The four basic components to consider when choosing items to add are: light, sound, movement, and color.
Light is defined as electromagnetic radiation within a certain portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. More simply, light cuts through darkness and illuminates space. Lights or lighting will brighten any outdoor space and add visual interest. Light can be easily added to potted plants on a patio, porch, or deck. You can also add a string of lights just about anywhere including on a deck, or pergola. Lantern lights are great for trees, arbors, awnings, or hanging from a shepherd’s hook. Try lighting a pathway or around the foundation of your house with items that stick in the ground.
The power source for your lights can be replaceable batteries or a rechargeable solar battery pack. Solar lights need about 6 – 8 hours of good sunlight each day to fully recharge their batteries, so these lights need to be placed in an area that gets good sun. Battery powered lights might be a better solution for areas of your yard that are mostly shade. Many battery powered lights also include timers, which relieves you of having to turn them on and off all the time. Once these solar lights are turned on, they can remain on for 5 – 6 hours, depending on what the timer is set for, then go off and come back on each day at that same time. The batteries are easy to change and are usually AA or AAA.
The definition of sound is the auditory sensation evoked by the oscillation in particle displacement. In other words it activates the ears to hear. Sound is very personal. It can invoke different emotions, sensations, and feelings depending on the sound itself and the person hearing it.
In your garden, the sound is often of nature. The birds, the crickets, the wind through the trees, even ground animals scurrying around. Décor that adds to these sounds would be a great addition to your backyard. Filling space with sound is also very personal. A bell bouncer ornament in a tree provides a gentle embellishment to a soft breeze. A wind chime in a tree could be music to your ears. Speaking of – how about music? A bluetooth speaker on a lantern or flower stake is great fun for a party or just a relaxing afternoon with a good book. Sync the speaker up to your phone or tablet and YOU control the music.
Wind through the trees or tall grass is an example of natural movement. The spinning of a kinetic spinner indicates either a gentle breeze or a strong wind. The gentle flapping of the wings on a metal butterfly stake with a solar body that combines these two natural elements could also be such a relaxing addition to your outdoor environment. It might also be a hanging fairy with a bell on the bottom. Combining movement with either sound or light results in an amazing effect.
Color is the characteristic of human visual perception described through color categories, with names such as red, yellow, purple or blue. Color in your garden décor is important as it draws the eye up from the ground. Color and movement are a good combination as it draws the eye in and the motion holds your attention. Color and light area also a good combination, especially at night. Great color with light behind it will feel welcoming and break the darkness in a unique way.
Understanding the importance of each of these garden décor elements and how they work together is key to using décor to accent and highlight your garden, giving you amazing effects, day or night.
All the Soaps and Lotions we carry at Amy Lea ‘n Me, including the Gardener’s Soap, are handmade in Anoka, MN by Lisa Hallberg of L’s Soaps. We have a great selection in the store but you can also special order any of Lisa’s products that we might not carry. It takes about a week and you can pick them up in our Golden Valley Store (no added shipping costs!). Here are a couple of Diana’s favorites that are now in stock.
This amazing soap makes cleaning up after gardening even easier…..the all natural way! Gardner’s Soap is a very powerful, high cleansing bar that removes dirt, grease and grime off the hands and smells fantastic. Made of Avocado Oil, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Castor Oil, Cranberry Seeds, Sodium Hydroxide, Distilled Water and Essential Oils of Rosemary, Lavender and Teatree. NOTE: This bar is not for the shower, only for handwashing.
Bug Repel Soap