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Posts Tagged ‘bugs’

Bug Photo Challenge

Grapevine Beetle

I had no idea what type of insect this was; I’d never seen one until it appeared in my garden in 2015 and I haven’t seen one since. The famous entomologist, Herr Google, leads me to think it’s a Grapevine Beetle, also known as a Spotted June Beetle. I enjoyed capturing photos of it, but I wish I’d run a lint brush over it before I started.

While heavily drugged after surgery last spring to remove a tumor from my pancreas, I gave myself ten “seven photos in seven days” photo challenges. So far, I’ve posted seven. This eighth post reveals seven of my favorite bug photos from 2015. Some are of baby bugs—caterpillars rather than winged adults. I pointed that out in case anyone feels baby butterflies and moths don’t qualify as bugs (I suppose it’s a stretch but there are many definitions of “bug”).

I hope you enjoy my bug photos. It’s a seven-day/seven-photo challenge, but all the photos are here in a single post.

Cabbage butterfly on lavender

I love to see cabbage butterflies in my garden, though they have seriously diminished my excitement for growing broccoli (I hate the part of preparing homegrown broccoli where you float the broccoli crowns in salt water for an hour so the worms die and float off the food.) The “antique white” of this butterfly delightfully complemented the delicate lavender color of my… lavender.


Since moving to Pennsylvania 21 years ago, it seems I’ve heard in five or six summers that this was the year of the seventeen year cicada. In one of those years, there was actually an abundance of the magnificent insects in our area, though they did not inundate our living space and crunch under foot. Every year we hear the cicadas’ buzz, and I often find visitors in my small kitchen garden. This one was resting on a tomato stake in my plot at the community garden.

Golden digger wasp on marjoram

I first saw wasps like this one in 2014. I was able to find photos online that identify it as a great golden digger wasp. Many of them started frequenting my garden when the marjoram was in bloom. The wasps show no interest in me, but focus exclusively on the marjoram’s delicate flowers.

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed

For 18 years, I’d harvest wild black raspberries in meadows up the street from my house. Each year I’d also inspect milkweed plants in those meadows for evidence of monarch butterfly activity. Finally, in 2015, I found the caterpillar in this photo. Sadly, but for one building lot, the meadows are all gone. The landowner subdivided the land and there are houses on nearly all of them. No more milkweed. No more black raspberries. I wanted to live on a farm far enough from the nearest neighbors that we wouldn’t see the light on the pole in their barnyard. We bought a house on the edge of town 21 years ago, but town is an invasive weed that has grown in around us.


I’m not particularly fond of grasshoppers, but they tend to make themselves available for decent photos. This one lingered on my garden’s rabbit fence near the tomato patch.

Dragonfly in rain garden

I love having dragonflies visit my kitchen garden. The main attractant, I think, is the “rain garden” I dug several years ago. I haven’t completed the project; I still need to line a ditch with gravel, lay perforated pipe in the ditch, and fill around the pipe with soil. Oh, and I should come up with a few rain-garden-appropriate plants. Still, in heavy rains, the collection pool fills and as it drains, moisture holds on at the bottom for days after the rest of the garden has dried.

Small Kitchen Garden – Bug Photo Challenge

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Farmer and a Cow

This cow thinks it's a vegetarian

When I was a kid, the farmer up the street raised a serious question about cows’ diets.

My daughter—my youngest child—headed off to Argentina this morning. She’s a sophomore in college and will spend what’s left of her Christmas break hiking with friends in Patagonia.

About nine years ago, that same daughter, age 11, was gamely trying to keep her magazine in business. “Business” might be an overstatement.

In May of 2006, my daughter started Phoolish magazine. At first she had some enthusiastic contributors, and she pressed friends and family to participate. I wrote a few articles and was quickly seduced by the overwhelming crush of rabid fans. Letters poured in, and I wrote more and more—some under my own name, and some under a pen name…

Phoolish died when my daughter grew tired of chasing authors. When people promised material but failed to deliver, the hassle completely offset the glamour of editing, doing the layout, and delivering the printed copies. I was sad to see the magazine go, but I understand my daughter’s frustration.

Phoolish encouraged silliness, and I enjoy looking at the things I wrote for it back then. Here’s a piece from Janaury of 2007:

On the farm

I was about 12 years old when my parents bought a weekend farm.  We spent nearly every Saturday and Sunday there clearing brush, building fences, and doctoring up the old barn and milk house.

We quickly got to know the man up the road:  A farmer who also worked as a janitor to make ends meet.  He was a friendly man who generously used his tractor to plow our garden plot so we didn’t need to turn soil with a shovel.

He offered suggestions for improving our pastures.  We helped him do jobs that demanded large farming devices.  Sometimes we worked with him to harvest hay or oats, or to load a harvest into his loft or ours.  With our neighbor, we picked rocks from the pasture, harvested bumblebee honey, bagged oats, and stacked hay bales.

At least one variety of aphid likes sunchokes

If you’re a cow and there are bugs on your food, what are you going to do about it?

I learned much about so many things during days at the farm.  I’m sure the activities I enjoy today and the choices I make are strongly influenced by those experiences.  And, while I’ve many stories to tell about those days, one in particular stands apart from the others:

We had just completed a job—putting up oats, perhaps—and were strolling casually near our barn when our farmer neighbor asked thoughtfully:  “Do you ever wonder how many bugs a cow eats?”  Admittedly, I never had.  However, many times in the thirty three or more years since, I have found myself musing on exactly that.

Small Kitchen Garden – Farmer and a Cow

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