Many creatures have left their calling cards in my gardens. The wet, humid weather has caused a bumper crop of slugs. They usually only feed at night, but not this year. Maybe it’s their numbers, maybe the lack of sun has kept the slimy crawlers from seeking daytime cover. Regardless, the telltale shiny trails left on this petunia, and on many of my lettuce and tatsoi plants, show slugs are feasting quite well.
I can only hope the concurrent explosion in the garter snake population will eventually decrease the slug population. I am NOT even slightly enamored of snakes … but I have learned to tolerate garter snakes., and identify their favorite basking spots so I know where to expect them. Usually one or two ‘regulars’ and I develop a mutually tolerant, but still standoffish, acceptance of each other through the growing season, but this year my tolerance is being stretched. During a brief bout of sunshine I came across four garter snakes sunning in a three square foot area of a stone pathway and two more among nearby vegetation. An hour later I nearly stepped on one in a different part of the yard … trust me, profanities flew from my mouth faster than the snake slithered away.
Aphids are also thriving in our lovely swamp-like weather. Theoretically, planting nasturtiums helps keep aphids away from other plants. Here, on the underside of a nasturtium leaf, black aphids have set up housekeeping (I doubt the aphid-eating ant is an invited guest). However, to deal with this year’s aphid population, this ant may need backup from an army of ladybug beetles to help chomp the aphids away.
What caused holes in my moonflower and morning glory leaves was a mystery until one of my sons noticed a small – ladybug sized – metallic gold beetle climbing nearby. A little research identified it as a golden tortoise beetle – a bug with the admirable ability to change its color at will. Cool, except this beetle’s favorite food is ipomeas.
Voles have found the small group snow peas planted directly into the ground at one end of the garden – notice the hole where a pea vine once grew. These tunneling vegetarians also find the in-ground planted lettuce an easy meal. This is why I plant most vegetables in pots.