What Is Lurking On My Kale?

Kale on 7-10-2020.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. The garden is doing GREAT and I must say the tomatoes are the best I have ever grown. I think I say that every time I write or talk about them. I harvested my first ripe tomato on July 13, which was a Rutgers. It was very good. 🙂 I still like the new way I am pruning and hanging them up and I also think the mulch has made a big difference. BUT, this post is about the kale so I better stop rambling. I started this post on July 7 and have updated the draft 18 times…

Once you start seeing the Small Cabbage White Butterflies flying around your kale, you know you will start seeing their larvae soon. This year I noticed three newcomers to the table… I a sure they have been here in the past but I didn’t see any. Depending on what time of the day it is, you may or may not see them, but you will see where they have been…

I did learn a new word while I was writing this post… Crucifers… In botany, it refers to plants whose flowers have four petals. I would have thought the information would say the worms in this post prefer members of the Brassicaceae Family, instead, they say they prefer crucifers. Hmmm… Well, that may be true because brassicas are apparently crucifers. I just never saw that word used before but I don’t get out much… 🙂

 

Pieris rapae (Cabbage White Butterfly) larvae.

Pieris rapae (Cabbage White Butterfly)

Interestingly enough, most of the butterflies in the garden are Pieris rapae also known as the Cabbage White. It is called other names such as Small Cabbage White, Cabbage Butterfly, or White Butterfly. It is a member of the white and yellows family Pieridae which consists of about 76 genera and 1,100 species mainly from tropical Africa and Asia. This species is found all across Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It was “accidentally” introduced into Quebec, Canada in the 1860’s and has now spread across North America… 

 

Pieris rapae (Cabbage White Butterfly) larvae.

Most of the worms I find are just sitting there doing nothing but I found this one munching away…

 

Trichoplusia ni (Cabbage Looper Moth) larvae.

Trichoplusia ni (Cabbage Looper Moth)

I have seen this worm for many years and I always thought it was the larvae of the Cabbage White Butterfly. BUT, I have learned the error of my thinking. Do you see the way it arches its back? That means it is a lopper similar to inchworms (which are in a different family). Thanks to INaturalist, I found out these critters are the larvae of Trichoplusia ni, commonly known as the Cabbage Looper Moth. I have not seen any of the adults in the garden, but I have seen similar looking moths elsewhere. These caterpillars are called loopers because they don’t have the same amount of legs (or prolegs) as most other caterpillars. They only have 2-3 pairs on the hind end instead of the normal 5 pairs. When they crawl, they clasp with their front legs then draw up the hind end then clasp with the hind legs (prolegs). Then they reach out and grab with their front legs again. This gait is called looping because it arches it back into a loop when crawling.

I thought it was funny how they could be lying flat on the underside of a leaf until I started looking at it and taking photos. Then they would arch their back like they were trying to scare me off.

One very interesting thing about the adult is that they are migratory and are found across North America and Eurasia. According to information, over 160 plants can serve as hosts for this species but “crucifers” are preferred

 

Evergestis rimosalis (Cross-Striped Cabbageworm Moth).

Evergestis rimosalis (Cross-Striped Cabbageworm Moth)

This is the first year I have seen this critter but it doesn’t mean they haven’t always been around. Certain times of the day you may see no worms of any kind anywhere. This colorful member of the family Crambidae inhabits most of the eastern portion of the United States and can be found on all types of brassicas. The adult is a brownish moth and I have not seen any of them in the garden… I kind of think they do most of the damage to the kale which leads me to believe they have been here before and I just didn’t notice them. I always wondered how could so few very small cabbage worms do so much damage now I know… 

 

Cuerna costalis (Lateral-Lined Sharpshooter).

Cuerna costalis (Lateral-Lined Sharpshooter)

This strange little critter is a member of the leafhopper family Cicadellidae with 26 species in the genus and is a North American native. I have seen a few of these on the kale although it is not necessarily on their menu. Although kale is not on the list, turnips, another member of the Brassicaceae family, is. I did see more on the okra today but I can’t tell what they are doing. They are odd critters for sure… They normally produce two generations per year and adults overwinter in grass and other dead plant material. 

In numbers, leafhoppers can cause serious damage in a variety of ways. Several species of this genus are believed to be vectors of a few plant diseases. C. costalis is thought to be a vector of Pierce’s Disease Virus of grapes (in Georgia).

 

Conocephalus strictus (Straight-Lanced Meadow Katydid).

Conocephalus strictus (Straight-Lanced Meadow Katydid)

I always thought this critter was some kind of grasshopper, but when I uploaded the image on iNaturalist it said it was a Straight-Lanced Meadow Katydid (Conocephalus strictus). Information says this species normally feeds on grass but here it is on the kale… I couldn’t get a good photo because this guy, or gal, was a bit photo shy and was about ready to jump. I wonder if it made that hole?

I see a lot of BIG katydids here that I haven’t photographed to get a positive ID. I thought a katydid was a katydid but apparently not… There are several species found worldwide that look a lot alike. 

 

Pieris rapae (Cabbage White Butterfly).

When I work in the garden in the early evening the butterflies and worms seem to be hiding. I was working in the watermelons when I spotted this Cabbage White Butterfly flying around the kale. SO, I ran to where it was to get a photo. It landed under a kale leaf then flew around a bit more but went back to the same spot. It did this several times before it finally decided to stay put. I guess this is where it will spend the night…

 

Crioceris duodecimpunctata (Spotted Asparagus Beetle) larvae.

Crioceris duodecimpunctata (Spotted Asparagus Beetle)

I have been noticing these strange varmints on the Asparagus. One day I stopped briefly to look at one and it appeared almost slug-like. I was busy so I went on about my business and it was happy about that. I couldn’t see where it was doing any damage. Then later when I had the camera and magnifying glass I had a closer look. I touched it and then it did something strange… It pooped. I took the best photo I could, but these guys are VERY SMALL. I uploaded the photo on iNaturalist and it suggested Crioceris duodecimpunctata commonly known as the Spotted Asparagus Beetle. I have no idea how to pronounce the scientific name because Dave’s Garden didn’t have a pronunciation for it. Maybe cry-OH-ser-is DOO-dec-im punct-ata. 🙂 I think I will call it Cryogenus dudepooper. I didn’t see any adults on the Asparagus, but Sunday afternoon I was walking in the yard and this small reddish-orange beetle with black spots landed on my hand. It said, “Are you looking for me?” I told him I wasn’t at the moment because I didn’t have the camera. I asked him if he was lost then he flew off. It was a male because the females are a different color.

According to what I read, the larvae of the Spotted Asparagus Beetle only feeds on the berries. Well, they are going to get hungry because there are no berries on the asparagus at the moment… A few plants are just now beginning to flower… Apparently, most are males that were too small to harvest. I have been getting a few nice spears all summer…

 

Jade wanted outside but I was a little reluctant to just let her out of the house when I was going to be in the garden. Jade is my son’s cat and he left her behind (and his tomcat) when he and Chris moved out. Jade has no claws so she stays in the house. So, since she wanted out, I carried her all the way to the garden (second time). She had loads of fun exploring and never ventured out of the garden. She seemed to like chasing the Cabbage White Butterflies so they couldn’t land…

I have some catching up to do. I seem to take photos every day but do nothing with them. I have to post about the watermelons and how and why I prune them. Then, today, which is not today by the time I get this post published, I found the tomatoes are under attack by THREE preditors… I noticed a few plants with whiteflies a couple of days ago which need to be sprayed with the neem oil. I hadn’t noticed any hornworms or any damage from them and I check pretty much every day.  I did notice a few tomatoes with small holes but I couldn’t find the culprit. THEN, this afternoon (Tuesday) I found a worm I had not seen before. Next thing I knew, I found several. Some were quite large and they were boring holes in the tomatoes and climbing inside… GEEZ! I did have my camera so I have photos. Then, a few hours later, I went back and found a few more as well as SEVERAL hornworms. That time I didn’t have the camera… What I want to know is how can there be no hornworms then they just suddenly appear? SO, I will be posting about the tomatoes as well.

SO, until next time, be safe and well, stay positive, be thankful, and GET DIRTY!

 

Spit Bug?

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Have you ever wondered what that spit-looking stuff on grass and other plants are? Well, even as a kid I remembered seeing it and really never gave it much thought. I see it off and on and just thought it was weird. A few days ago I saw it on some grass and clover and curiosity got the best of me so I took a few photos. 

I uploaded the above photo on iNaturalist and it said “it was pretty sure” it was a species of Philaenus and showed a photo of an insect. The second and third choice were slime molds. Well, I thought at first it couldn’t be an insect so I checked out the slime molds. That just didn’t seem to be what it was either.

I went ahead and posted the photo as a class of Myxomycetes and a member commented, “have you considered spittlebugs?” and included a link. He also said, “If  you brush away some of the spittle it is usually easy to find the insect inside.” Another member said, “It’s not a slime mold. It’s called ‘cuckoo spit’ (in Australis).” 

So, I checked out the link for spittlebugs then went to see if I could find the bug.

I moved some of the spit around and didn’t see anything except for this yellowish speck which wasn’t an insect. So, I moved to another wad of spit…

 

Low and behold, there was a larvae of a spittlebug. That was really weird to find a little critter crawling around in spit…

Philaenus spumarius (Meadow Spittlebug)

I took a few photos and uploaded them on iNaturalist and it was identified as Philaenus spumarius which is the Meadow Spittlebug.

 

Philaenus spumarius (Meadow Spittlebug)

Wikipedia says it is the Meadow Froghopper or Meadow Spittlebug and it belongs to the family Aphrophoridae. The genus name, Philaenus, comes from the Greek word philein which means “love”. The species name, spumarius, comes from the Latin word puma which means “sparkling” from the foam nests. The name Philaenus spumarius is translated as “foam lover.” Hmmm…

The species originally comes from the Palaearctic ecozone. It was later introduced to North America and Canada. Apparently, it is important because it is a vector of Xyellia fastidiosa. Xyellia fastidiosa is a plant pathogen that causes several types of leaf scorches and other issues. So, this little critter is a valuable worker.

You can check out THIS LINK to Wikipedia to read more about the Philaenus spumarius. You just never know what is lurking around in the yard and pastures.

That’s it for this post. I have a few more posts in the works which I might be able to finish today. At least one…

Until next time, be safe and stay positive, stay well and always be thankful. I hope you are getting dirty!

 

My First Luna Moth Sighting

Actias luna (Luna Moth).

Hello folks! I hope this post finds you all well. A few weeks ago my son showed me a photo of a Luna Moth that he, and many others, spotted at a convenience store one night. It was on a brick wall and was almost as wide as the brick. Over the years several people have told me about seeing them at night, usually being attracted to porch lights, street lights, and yard lights. I had never seen one in person until a few nights ago.

 

Actias luna (Luna Moth).

I had got up at about 3:30 AM and walked into the living room. The yard light shines through the house at night and I could see from the shadow that something fairly large was flying around the light. I looked out the back door and saw it was a Luna Moth. It flew around the light, banging itself on the light and the pole then landed on the grass. I grabbed the camera and went outside to see if I could find it. I thought something that big surely wouldn’t be that hard to find.

 

Actias luna (Luna Moth).

It wasn’t too happy about being picked up at first and got away twice. The third time I picked it up, I assured it I meant it no harm and it completely calmed down. After that, it seemed perfectly happy to be resting on my hand.

They are quite easily identified. It is large, light green, normally with four “eyes” on their wings, have a pinkish-purple bumper along the front of their wings, have feathery antennae, and normally have a long tail…

The Wikipedia says, “There are some sex-determined and regional differences in appearance. Females will have a larger abdomen compared to males because it contains 200–400 eggs. Both sexes have antennae, but on the male, much longer and wider. Wing color is blue-green in the north and for the over-wintering generation in the central and southern states; second and third generation wing color has more of a yellow-green tint.”

“Based on the climate in which they live, Luna moths produce different numbers of generations per year. In Canada and northern regions of the United States, they are univoltine, meaning one generation per year. Life stages are approximately two weeks as eggs, 6–7 weeks as larvae, nine months as pupae, finishing with one week as winged adults appearing in late May or early June. In the mid-Atlantic states the species is bivoltine, and farther south trivoltine, meaning respectively two and three generations per year. In the central states, the first generation appears in April, second in July. Even farther south, the first generation appears as early as March, with second and third spaced eight to ten weeks later.”

 

Actias luna (Luna Moth).

This Luna Moth looks a bit ragged and even its long “tail” is missing. The average Luna Moth wingspan is 4 1/2″ wide, but can be up to 7″. The long tails of their hindwings are thought to confuse the echolocation detection used by predatory bats.

 

Actias luna (Luna Moth).

InsectIdentification.org says the Luna Moth is only found in North America and their population is on the decline. They are very sensitive to light pollution (such as yard and street lights that are constantly on), pesticides and parasitic flies (a parasitic fly that was introduced to the U.S. to control the Gypsy Moth…).

It was interesting to read the Luna Moth is being bred in captivity and is used in classrooms to teach about the lifecycle of butterflies and their role in the environment.

Many years ago I was told the Tomato Hornworm was the caterpillar for the Luna Moth but that is untrue. The Tomato Hornworm is the caterpillar for the Five-Spotted Hawkmoth. Luna Moth caterpillars feed on the leaves of certain trees. Strangely, the adults do not feed.

You can read more about the Luna Moth on Butterflies and Moths of North America.

I am thankful I finally got to see a Luna Moth in person for the first time and hope to see more.

Thanks for reading this post. Until next time, be safe, stay positive, stay well, and always be thankful!