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