Blog, blog, bloggeroo, blog, blog, blogblogblogblogblogblogbloggity blahgger.
Blogging is dumb.
After work yesterday, I found no less than five species of insects with an active interest in my garden. It's quite the wild kingdom on my balcony; many species are fighting for survival. I will describe them only briefly, as I don't want to creep out my wife. I have not seen a single twiddlebug.
These guys are nice. They've been around for a couple weeks, pollinating the beautiful flowers on my basil, catnip, tomatoes and peppers. They are wasps that don't sting. They are a natural enemy of the *ugh* mealybug.
*Ugh*. I discovered this guy last night. My wonderful peppermint had its leaves coated, on the underside, with some kind of white and hairy larval forms. I found some information on alternative pest control. Apparently, both alcohol and soap can be used in solution to fight plant pests effectively. I filled an almost empty Febreeze spritzer with water, as Febreeze contains both alcohol and soap, and I washed the entire plant, leaf by leaf (I hope the plant survives). After reading more about these bastards, I realized that the waxy-shiny substance I saw on the leaves last week was not a normal part of the mint. Mealybugs secret a sweet honeydew.
They're barely visible, yet I hate them. I have two flower boxes growing grass. One of these boxes is flourishing, the other one is not. I investigated the sick grass and I saw an infestation.
In cleaning up the garden last night, I was heartened to find a ladybug. Defender of all that is good, and eater of aphids. It's not the brownish foreign invader look-alike, but rather the bright-red real deal. I think. I hope.
Ants aren't a problem unless they're in your home. We've had kind of an ant situation in our building for a while. So far, they've been a only a mild nuisance and have kept away from our kitchen. Seeing this new development, it's time to step up the battle.
Now they're in my garden. The ants have been enjoying a buffet of the finest honeydew secretions of both the aphids and the mealybugs. Ants are very industrious. They're not satisfied with picking up snacks to go. They actually farm the aphids. They provide shelter and protection from predators. It looks like they took up residence with the aphids in my grass box.
Seeing that the grass was almost dead and easy to grow from scratch, I thought I'd use a more certain strategy, rather than plant-safe. I took a look in our cleaning supply cabinet. I briefly considered using bleach, but I thought it might be too hard on the plastic. I decided on a bucket of hand soap and water. I just drowned the entire box of grass and sprayed everything that moved and the entire perimeter with my Febreeze mix.
And they're up to something on my blueberry bush. I gave that a good spray down.
I'll be watching them. I will not tolerate infestation. If I wanted to breed insects, I'd be keeping them on my desk in a thin clear-plastic box.