Bird or Bug? Monday, Jun 15 2020 

They may be young but they are often smarter than the adults.

I have two seven-year-old grandsons, a five-year-old granddaughter and five-year-old grandson. Technology doesn’t intimidate any of them. The two oldest grandsons became ZOOM experts before I did. Their parents expose the children to nature, athletic classes, and travels that I didn’t experience until much later in life.

And their energy can be deceiving. As they literally run circles around us, the wee ones are taking in everything around them and remember what they saw and heard, especially if it is something we’d rather they hadn’t noticed.

This past weekend, my grandsons Daniel and Nathan helped me water my garden. We saw an unusual creature hovering over the petunias and sucking up nectar. I thought it was a bee or other type of insect because it had three body parts—a head, thorax, and abdomen, but it was larger in size than a normal bee or moth. Nathan insisted that it was a hummingbird.

Thanks to the “Bug Queen,” my friend, Carol Hendrix, we learned we both were somewhat correct. This beauty is a Hummingbird Clearwing Hemaris thysbe, an insect that mimics a hummingbird. It belongs to the Family Sphingidea (a family of moths, commonly known as hawk moths, sphinx moths, and hornworms). These moths are moderate to large in size and are distinguished by their rapid, sustained flying ability. Their subfamily, is the Macroglossinae, moths in the order Lepidoptera.

Most of my plants are on a set of three shelving units against the back of my house. It allows me full use of my limited space and plenty of sunshine with southern exposure to promote hearty growth of flowers, herbs, and vegetables and less consumption by chipmunks and rabbits. The Hummingbird Clearwing Hemaris thysbe isn’t often seen in my area of the Midwest, so I appreciate that it visited my little boxes of plantings. The opportunity to have witnessed one in action up close and personal was a special gift of nature.

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Check out my posts, “Waling in Someone’s Painful Shoes” and “Why We Suffer.”

Citronella Beetle Bath Thursday, Jul 25 2013 

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Discoveries are often found by accident. I recently made one such finding I’m excited to share with you.

Japanese Beetles have attacked my roses for years. The healthy rose buds open only to serve as tasty treats for the visiting pests, who immediately destroy them. Sprays intended to prevent this do little to help.

I recently set two unlit citronella candles out on the ledge of the deck during a barbecue. The following morning I found dozens of the Japanese Beetles frozen in the melted candles.  I hadn’t even lit the candles. They melted in the warm sunlight.

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Citronella is considered a natural insect repellent, but it must actually attract the beetles, which then get stuck in the wax. I have moved the candles closer to the roses and am morbidly delighted to see this collection continue to increase. The roses appear to have less infestation, but I honestly am not certain if in fact I am drawing more beetles to the garden.

Citronella oil is an essential oil obtained from the leaves and stems of different species of lemongrass. It is especially effective against mosquitos, lice, and stable flies. There are no known adverse effects when used as a topical insect repellent, including when used on children and people with sensitive skin. Citronella oil is used in chemicals in soaps, candles, and incense. It is also recognized as an antifungal.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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