Monthly Archives: July 2018

Prey of the Praying Mantid

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Before I get into the garden horrors of this afternoon, let’s recap. Last week you may remember I put a few photos on Twitter about the praying mantid (Mantis spp.) I discovered in my Garden of Goods and Evils. I was working on one of my patios, watering some plants in a raised bed. It was hot. Very hot. And humid, although we were in need of rain. That’s why I was was watering with the hose. It was late evening and the mosquitoes were bugging me (yeah, that’s good) to the point where I just wanted to get back in the house. It was at this moment that something caught my eye. A flittering. A fluttering. A rapid movement under the topside one of my arbors covered in vines.

“What in the world is that?” I said to myself out loud. (I do enjoy a good conversation with myself). It looked like a moth that was really enjoying something on my Aristolochia vine. But there were no open flowers. I finished watering, put the hose down on the ground, and walked over the arbor. I stared up in amazement, nay, shock and awe.  The moth was not enjoying itself. A praying mantid was enjoying the moth. The taste of the moth. The head to be exact.

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I exclaimed for my husband to get back outside. “You won’t believe what I am seeing!” I yelled toward the house. I ran inside, grabbed my old cell phone and my Canon 60D (only cell phone shots on this blog post). I should have grabbed my tripod too, but I was in a rush.

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Back through the sunroom and out into the yard, I slowly crept up to the arbor. She was still there, feasting. The first images were blurred by the wings of the moth flapping as he tried to escape. Or perhaps it was just nerves twitching as the brain was being quickly eaten by the praying mantid.

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Even after the moth ceased to move, the praying mantid would dip her head into the neck cavity of the moth, grab a juicy bite, raise her head, and turn to look at me. I was interrupting. Nonetheless, it made it tricky to get a clear photo in the fading light, under the arbor. It was difficult to look away, though it should have been easy.

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I continued to take photos with both cameras until I could no longer stand to be eaten myself, by mosquitoes of course.

A few days later passing back through the patio, my husband said to me, “Whoa, check this out, a good photo opportunity.”

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Indeed, another (or the same?) praying mantid was hanging out on the flowering stems of my potted chives. Back into the house I ran for my camera and phone.  I was really wishing I had grabbed my extension tubes for my 50mm so that I could practice some macro photography with the little dude. But alas, my time was once again shortened by the constant slapping of mosquitoes on my arms and legs.

Today I was walking across the patio to dump my compost bucket out back when I saw a beautiful monarch butterfly gently nestled in the stems of my chives. OH, wow, I thought. It is just sitting there in the light rain, perhaps taking a break from flying. I went ahead and made a deposit into the compost pile and returned to the patio garden area.

I again looked in on the butterfly. But the more I stared, the more I really began to look, I realized it wasn’t moving at all. And there was something odd about the wings. The wings were all backwards or upside down. Pointed in the wrong direction. No! No! No! Could it be? I slowly peered down into the chives into the wings of the monarch. I shook my head (which was more than the butterfly would ever do again for its head was missing) and stepped back. Did I see that correctly? I stepped back up to the pot of chives and looked down again among the stems. Indeed, the butterfly’s head was gone. I quickly looked up and down the chive stems for the praying mantid. Who else is currently in my garden eating heads? I don’t want to draw from stereotypes, but lets face it. Who was recently eating the head of a moth and was recently seen on the chives? A praying mantid. I once again ran back into the house (hey, with all this running why am I so behind on losing weight?), grabbed my phone and returned to the scene of the crime.

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I took a few photos in the rain.

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Then I began to look again for the culprit. Any culprit.

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There she/he was…hanging out calmly on a sage plant about 18″ away from the chives.

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I would say she looked guilty, but considering how extremely creepy they look anyway, who knows? Is this enough to convict the praying mantid? Perhaps not.

Well, you just never know what lurks ahead or above in my Garden of Goods and Evils. Perhaps there is something lurking in your garden as well. Take time to observe and you never know what you will find.

Good links with information about the Praying Mantid (Mantis spp.) from Iowa State University Extension and the University of Kentucky College of Ag

 

Connect with my Facebook Fan Page: Tales from Hort Side

 

Yours In Garden Horror,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

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Categories: Garden Insects, Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils | Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Garden Carnage of Monday Morning Shark Week

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Pulling these from my Twitter feed for Monday morning July 23, 2018:

So here it is Monday morning when a melancholy stroll through the garden is interrupted by #SharkWeek Sharks eating chive flowers, bat face cuphea, sharks swimming thru the lawn.

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I tried to run from #SharkWeek sharks in my garden, but they were everywhere. Sharks eating organically grown cucumbers (Sumter), green Paul Robeson tomatoes, and attacking my scarecrow.

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Unbelievably, #SharkWeek sharks even attacked my garden fish sculpture and my defenseless garden gnome. Pure garden carnage. What a Monday morning!

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With all the #SharkWeek garden carnage this Monday morning, even the Rudbeckia in my pollinator garden was not safe. Though, in the shark’s defense, it did look tasty.

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After witnessing all that, I went back inside for some online education in photography, water gardens and pollinators as part of some courses I am enrolled in.

Later I needed to take the dogs out to go potty. Just when I think it is safe to go back out into the garden, #SharkWeek sneak attack at the mailbox on my Passiflora vine as I reach for my mail.  The flower just opened today. Died so young.

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Beware of lawn sharks and teach your garden gnomes self-defense.

Yours in #SharkWeek gardening,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

 

Categories: Crazy Plant Things I See, Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils, Vegetable Crops, What's Blooming | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Botanical Data Collection of Potential Blueberry Releases 2018

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Here are some of the images to capture the overview of botanical data I collected for potential blueberry releases for my boss. Now, obviously I cannot give any specific information. That would be unethical. This is just to show some of the stuff I have collected. It is detail-work, but great fun if you are into that sort of thing. I learned a lot too, based on reading many previous plant patent releases from various sources including the University of Georgia breeding program.

Most of these images were previously posted on Twitter the day the work was being done. The images are not high quality as they were snapped with my cheap cell phone but they give you an idea of what I was doing. Placing them all here is a good way to showcase the entire year in one location.

I began this year’s collection in February when the blueberries began to flower. Did you know there was such variation in blueberry flower color?

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Look how tiny these little white flowers were!

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Some of the flowers have a very faint, light perfume.

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The honeybees enjoyed the flowers and we worked around each other all morning.

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My initial measurements were taken in the field because it was an incredibly, beautiful day.

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After working in the field, I collected data from the blueberry plants in the lab.

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Check out the anthers and filaments of the stamens (male) on the blueberry flower.

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I was so excited to be able to collect some pollen grains! My first time.

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I sure am glad I enjoyed taking Plant Taxonomy class at the University of Arkansas with Dr. E Smith. Not only do I still carry around my “flash cards” (can you say PLANT NERD), but I am now able to put all of that to good use.

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After flower analysis came fruit!

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A little coffee, some good tunes on the MP3 player and I’m set for lab work.

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So, my role in the blueberry breeding program goes something like this, although my duties vary from year to year. My boss selects plants to cross. The Lab Tech makes the crosses in the greenhouse. She collects the seeds from the fruit that results. The seed is planted in trays in the greenhouse. When they reach a few inches tall, I pot them into trays of peat pots. At the same time, my boss takes hundreds of cuttings in the field from selections to propagate. When they have rooted (hopefully), I pot them up into one gallon pots. After the seedlings have grown and rooted well in their peat pots, those seedlings are transplanted out into the field.

Here is a photo of part of my blueberry field planting this summer.

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My boss observes them for several years, taking notes and selecting potential crosses for release.  Blueberry plants with the best potential are dug and transplanted into more permanent plantings. The cuttings which were also rooted and potted up into 1 gallon pots are maintained in our nursery and sent out for observation at nurseries or planted in our own blueberry fields for continued observation. But, I really do like my role in collecting finely detailed botanical data of taxonomic characteristics for the selections my boss would like to release. In order to release them, he must first submit a plant patent with this detailed information showing that the plant is new or novel.

As a Certified Professional Horticulturist, I love working in plant research. Especially traditional plant breeding.

All of this blueberry talk is making me hungry for some blueberry cobbler!

Yours in Gardening Goodness,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright The Garden Maiden 2018

 

 

Categories: Fruit Crops, Research | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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