Monday, August 25, 2008

... Meet Some of the Garden Help ...

The Mantises have definitely arrived (or emerged from hiding) in the garden now, and we couldn't be more delighted! After yesterday's discovery out front, we were thrilled to find two more --bigger-- ones hanging out on some of that weedy Heliopsis I ranted about back in July (it's not ex-ter-min-ated by a long shot). These were destined to be pulled at some point, but now that these guys have apparently taken up residence, we may reconsider that. For some reason, this year these 'Yellow Rogues' (as we call them) have been afflicted seriously by aphids (you can see them all up and down the stems), and we suspect that's exactly what drew the Mantises. Honestly, for a Mantis they must seem like an all you can eat Tapas bar or some Happy Hour spread somewhere. Hey guys, knock yourselves out and grow fast and prosper! Nobody wants aphids around (though they don't seem to bother our other plants), and if they're tasty to a Mantis, so be it and good riddance to the aphids!
Don't ask me what this weed is, but we have it everywhere, and when we clear an area, this is one of the first things to go (and this one went shortly after this shot was taken). The only reason to include this was to showcase that flashy little leaf hopper we saw earlier this summer on one of the 'Sun Showers' Hibiscus flowers. All we know is that it is some kind of leaf hopper, but when you see him up close he's really quite the snazzy dazzler, and to me he looks a lot like the Neon Tetra of the insect world, only he doesn't need an aquarium! There's no end to what we find insect wise in the gardens, but at least this one seems to do no harm, and is quite pretty we think.

Guess who's been playing with the video again? I'm really loving the video capabilities of the S700, the more I experiment, and I caught this little 16 second snippet of a bumblebee working a Cat Mint bloom in front of our old decrepit excuse for a garden shed. I was staking out the Praying Mantises nearby, but thought it would be fun to catch a bee at work, so here he is. I also took two short videos of the Mantises, but I'm going to have to edit them somewhat to get them reduced in size and duration, so I won't post them just yet. As for my video capabilities, they're still in their infancy, and I'm just starting to get the hang of focusing properly and using the zoom, so one day I hope, I can get some really great footage of things around the garden. My next targets will be the Goldfinches who are starting to come around for the Annual Coneflower Seed Feast and the various butterflies we've been seeing in abundance lately, so stay tuned for more to come.

Still photos by Fernymoss and video by IVG, all taken August 24, 2008.


olivia said...

Morning IVG and Fernymoss.

Gorgeous photos as usual! The first one is particularly stunning - w/ the mantis upside down like that! LOL ... and yeah, I agree w/ you IVG. They must feel like they're at a 24-hr all-you-can-eat free buffet ... heh.

LOVE, love, love the video! You did a great job. Can't wait to see the vids w/ the praying mantises.

(Just saw the gargoyle post -- those greens are so lush! The garden is looking really good there IVG.)

Shady Gardener said...

Now that's a post for me! ;-) Wonder if you'd like to send a mantis home with me, if it just happened to work out? (beg, beg) I have quite the infestation of aphids! Hopefully I have a plant left by the time I get home Thursday.

I have no idea what your jazzy bug is, but it's wonderful!!

Congrats on your video! I just posted about 5 or 6 on "The Grandkids" blog. ha.

See you Thursday! :-)

Gail said...


Hi and good morning! It's a good morning here in Nashville....finally we have rain! Enough about that! The mantis photo is wonderful! He must be meditating on a full stomach and resting before he moves onto the dessert bar or perhaps he wants more entree!

No mantis as of yet at Clay and LImestone...we have the brown ones that look like sticks. Hmm sounds like an internet search for this one!

Enjoy the day! Keep the videos coming!


Roses and Lilacs said...

The unsung heroes of the garden.

No mantis in my garden:( Since I live in the center of hundreds of acres of corn it's no wonder. Whatever chemicals they spray, dust, pour, and dump on the corn doesn't do the good bugs any good at all.

Annie in Austin said...

I was feeling mantid-deprived here, then ran into one yesterday...but your photos and videos are many times better than mine, IVG and Fernymoss.
Whatever that weed it, it pops up here, too.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

marmee said...

very cool mantis image! it is so clear and the green and yellow contrast is great. i love the fact he is upside down

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Toots, great to see you back! I've missed stopping by your place the last few days due to increasing workload (again). Yep, I'm writing another report for a presentation on Thurs... ack!

That mantis was still in the same spot, upside down, when we came in just before dark last night! Both of them spent the whole day on those plants. Didn't get to check them today to see if they were still hanging around.

I was really unsure what the video would be like at first, but I'm sold on it now. It does a pretty good job without much effort on my part! Love the S700... The mantis one may take me a while to edit, but will get posted eventually. (It's convention week you know, and you know what a political junkie I am.)

I don't have a gnome (hehe), so I decided to make do with some of my many gargoyles, at least the ones that can weather the outside!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Shady,
Thanks so much for the plants you dropped off on your way through this morning! I found them when I went to get the mail after work.

I love that Purple Emperor and the Matrona too. Does Matrona get darker if it gets more sun? You do know though, that they will always be referred to as "Shady's
Plants," because that's where they come from. :-) They'll be in good company with Elaine's Peonies and Frank's Poppies.

Sorry, but I think Fernymoss would have a caniption fit if I gave any of the mantises away. There must be some around down your way somewhere that you could maybe catch and release in your garden. Or maybe they'll show up naturally if you keep a close eye out.

Looking forward to you stopping by on Thursday, and we'll send you home with plenty to plant!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Gail,
I'm so glad you got a good rain! I was wondering if you'd get any of the remnants of Fay, and it appears you did. Now keep your eye on Gustav to see where he goes, and maybe you'll get lucky again.

We have those brown ones here too, and we're not sure if the green ones eventually mature to brown or if they're different species. Fernymoss found a huge brown one on a window where he works last summer and brought it home. We should both hit the Google and see what we can find out!

Next video I want to get is some butterflies (and still shots too I hope). You got me started on the video posting you know... thanks!


Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
That's a shame there are many chemicals over your way, because with very few exceptions (stuff to kill poison ivy) we frown severely on their use.

A few years ago when we were planting up part of our neighbor's garden, we planted some really great ornamental grasses, and then his son went out and sprayed a bunch of the yard with Roundup, then mowed them down, adding insult to injury. Of course, no more ornamental grasses for him.

I hope you're surprised soon and find a mantis or two! I'm sure you'll let us know if you do. :-)


Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Annie,
That's great you spotted one the other day! Seems like they start getting visible around here in late summer, but I suspect they're here earlier just lurking until they're big enough to come out (since they will eat each other if given the chance).

Glad you like the photos ... see why I keep bragging about how great the S700 is? :-)

I hate that weed! It's positively everywhere (almost worse than that weedy blue tradescantia), and nothing short of a nuclear strike seems to keep it away no matter how much you pull it. We also have this very annoying wild amaranth that comes up blooming and seeding right out of the ground. It's easy to pull, but I think that's its strategy, because when you pull it, the seed pods fall off. Clever strategy, but oh so aggravating!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marmee,
Welcome to our garden! I've seen your posts on some of the other blogs, and appreciate that you took the time to stop on by.

That mantis was still hanging upside down last night when we finally quit working and came inside ... guess he was having fun! Didn't get to check today to see if he was sill there, but we're on the lookout for them every time we're out now....

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