Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Walnut trees get holistic healing and I learn something cool

Posted by sodaklady on July 17, 2013

It all starts with the 2 walnut trees we have in our yard. They are each about 30 feet tall and give wonderful shade. But they have also been a nuisance for one reason or another every season of the year except winter. This spring they started misting sap from the leaves. On father’s day, as we sat outside with our 2 grown children, you could see it in the sunlight like a fine rain. Everything underneath it was sticky: the grass, the patio, the patio furniture, the honeysuckle plants.

Walnut tree

Last Friday, I was having a crumby day and it was suddenly made worse when I noticed the back porch, the patio and the patio furniture covered in little six-legged bugs. I texted a picture to my husband and both my son and daughter, hoping someone would have a clue, or that they could find someone else who had a clue. Nothing useful.

The post at the top of the steps was covered in happy little crawlie things.

The post at the top of the steps was covered in happy little crawlie things, constantly on the move.

As would any good technophile today, I headed online looking for 6-legged, black and orange/red bugs and found nothing even close. This is how I found myself spending the afternoon with broom in hand, sweeping into mush as many crawlies as I could. When Richard came home he called one of the local firms that handle yard care even though hundreds of dollars to spray our trees was not in the budget. There was no one available who could help until the next day. Of course.

Just before bed, I gave it one more shot online and looked for pictures of beetles since they have six legs, and eureka!  The good news is that they are ladybird (also know to some of us as ladybugs)larvae; the bad news is I spend the afternoon turning a couple hundred of them into smears because these are the good guys; the cavalry come to the rescue in the nick of time.

Here's several ladybugs as they begin emerging from their larval stage. The tiny white dots are the aphids, their prey.

Here’s several ladybugs as they begin emerging from their pupal stage. The tiny white dots are the aphids, their prey.

So instead of trying to kill them, I’ve been watching their development. And impressing my daughter when she came by with the schoolroom right in our backyard.

I think these are the larvae of another variety of ladybug that is yellow rather than red.

I think these are the larvae of another variety of ladybug that is yellow rather than red.

I also found that the ladybug larvae will have backup soon in the form of lacewings. I found the eggs hanging from the underside of the leaves. If not for the article I found, I would have assumed they were a bad thing.

Lacewing eggs. Would you think this was a good thing if you saw it in your tree?

Lacewing eggs. Would you think this was a good thing if you saw it in your tree?

And for my patience, a ladybug landed on my hand. I managed a quick shot just as it was taking off.

Ladybug taking off

I don’t have the skill to take amazingly good photos but if you’re interested in this subject, I recommend Back Yard Biology where I found the first picture of my creepy-crawlies, and  the Wikipedia entry for Coccinellidae.

And as a final thought, or lesson, I’m so glad that we didn’t buy some chemicals and start spraying willy-nilly, killing off mother nature’s pesticide with the man-made kind. I much prefer the natural cure for what ailed our trees.

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One Response to “Walnut trees get holistic healing and I learn something cool”

  1. Gerald McD said

    Nice detective work. They certainly didn’t look friendly and helpful, but you can’t judge a bug by its cover. Look at the praying mantis for another example.

    Ladybugs are great. I always like to see the adults on our flowers, but I didn’t know what the larval form looked like. I’ve probably wiped out many of these around here, and now know to be more tolerant.

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