Monday, July 09, 2007

Late Afternoon Snacks Chez Sea Holly

I thought I might as well continue the theme of welcome garden bug buddies I started yesterday with the praying mantis. As happy as we were to find a mantis out in the hibiscus bed, we're also really appreciative of the wasps who do their work in other areas of the garden.

I know, for most people, wasps conjure up scary thoughts of vicious stings, but in my experience with them, I view them much more favorably. Wasps are hunters. When they're visiting your flowers, yes they are doing some probably inadvertent pollinating, but the real reason they're there is to hunt and devour smaller bugs. So, viewed from the right perspective, wasps really should be more popular and accepted in people's gardens. Obviously you want to avoid the nastier, aggressive types like hornets and yellow jackets, but our garden variety wasps (as pictured in these shots taken 7 July, 2007) are generally quite oblivious to human attention. And on a hot sunny day like yesterday, we found them feasting on some sort(s) of smaller, unfortunate bugs that in all likelihood we don't want messing with our Sea Holly anyway.

To describe these Sea Hollies as a hub of activity would be an understatement, given how these late afternoon photos nicely show off some of their labor. Between the dozens of bumblebees and honey bees foraging in the front boulder bed and the wasps in front working the Sea Holly, things were quite literally abuzz yesterday. I should have wished them bon appétit! had I been thinking but oh well ... I'm sure they enjoyed their snack anyway!

The first photo is one of the medium sized brown wasps (sorry, no name) that like to frequent the blooms. Fernymoss informs me that the large black wasp in the second photo is called a "cricket killer," so if that's his real job, I'm happy to have him on board at Casa y jardín IVG. Oh yeah, there's a bonus wasp I didn't even see when I took this shot, because I focusing so intently on capturing the black wasp.

Sunday Night Movie Update: Though we had planned to go see SiCKO today, we were so lethargic from the heat that we gave it up for a later date. We did, however, watch Robert Altman's last film, A Prairie Home Companion which I think I may need to write about soon, so beware ... My first blush take on it is that it's a bittersweet, yet eccentrically light-hearted swan song from the master of the large ensemble cast ... All throughout it is evident, I believe, that Altman was fully aware this would be his last film. For Altman, I found it a fitting end to his career to make a film about ends of other eras, a final performance directed, and then all is done. Altman admirers will most likely enjoy the pace of the banter, the stories, the songs and the quirky turns of petites réalités shared by his large cast ... For those less familiar with his work, it might not immediately click, but should manage to charm anyone who rides it to its dénouement. More later, I fear.


Catharine said...

Hmmm. Good Morning IVG! This post is the perfect send-off for my day at work.

A lovely garden and a sweet movie review. I really do have to run off but I'll stop by later with more about how much I like what you've said about bees and wasps. And Altman films.


Nancy P said...

Thank you. You have finally answered the age-old query: "Wasps. Why?"

I loved that movie. Saw it three times in quick succession and loved it every time. Woody Harrelson and what'shisname are sooo funny to me, and I loved Meryl Streep in it, too.

olivia said...

Morning IVG, katieb, kansas.

Great capture on the wasps! You were having a buggy w/e yourself ... :)

And yes, wasps and spiders and ladybugs do eat up some of the smaller plant damaging insects, so they are a welcome sight. Although, I have to remind myself of that when I come across a spider ... :)

With these wasps, I find it fascinating how they have that very tiny connect between the two parts of their bodies. Here is a link to The Bug Guide's wasp section, which may help in identification: [LINK]. It's a useful site!

Btw, the sea holly is fantastic too. :)

FARfetched said...

I'm not a wasp fan, although on Planet Georgia you pretty much have to put up with them. But blowing up yellow jacket nests can be fun.

Family Man said...


I'm like FAR. I'm not much of a wasp fan myself having been stung many times as a kid. I tend to give them ground like I do snakes. :)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Howdy all! Glad you enjoyed the pic KB, and any time you want to talk Altman films, I'm right here. :-)

And Nancy,I didn't use to like wasps at all, but since we've been working on the space here, I've come to appreciate their contributions to the overall harmony of the garden. Still, those hornets and yellow jackets just have no purpose other than to annoy and sting, so we spurn them, obviously. The others, however, we give free rein and they do well by us, thus the more positive perspective!

Yes, FAR and FM, give them their ground and let them be and let them do their work, and they can be wonderful regulars to the garden. We don't use any pesticides or non-organic products in the garden, and we're content to let the natural visitors take care of the riff raff... Yeah, we have more weeds, but keeping the ground clean is more important to us in the long run.