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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Garden Mysteries

When a backyard birdwatcher sees this on the patio what does it tell her?

That the brilliant Bullock's Oriole has been drinking at the Hummingbird feeder again. Since his bill is so much bigger than the Hummingbirds bill, he pulls off the little yellow mesh pieces from the feeder and drops them on the ground. As of this evening only 2 remain on the feeder and I haven't been able to find the other 2. In past years he just dumped them beneath the feeder but this year I found one way out in the middle of the back driveway and the other on the sidewalk in front of the back sliding door. Maybe he has figured out that if he doesn't take them far away, I will just pick them up, clean them, and reinstall them in the feeder. Mrs. Oriole also eats at the feeder, but I haven't seen her as often this year. When the young birds fledge she brings them to the hummingbird feeder also.
So far, Mr. Oriole has refused to pose for me, I hear him and hurry to see him on the feeder, but all I get to see is the feeder swinging back and forth. When I do see him, he is too far for me to get a good photo, so I borrowed this one from the website for Birds of Washington State. Photo by Jerry Rome.

According to an article in the Pueblo paper earlier this week, we are having a much larger migration of Ladybugs in the area than usual, probably because the weather has allowed for more aphids (Ladybugs' favorite food) than usual. I knew I had seen quite a few in garden, but was really amazed when I sat down beneath the blooming Catalpa tree and looked up at the under side of the large leaves. There were red Ladybugs everywhere. I've never seen that many in one place before. The red really popped against the green leaves. So, of course, I had to run (walk really, I am not able to run any more) to the house for my camera.

Now my mystery is: In the past I have used a product, recommended by my nursery, that is watered into the ground under the trees and shrubs infested with aphids, it goes up into the sap and kills the aphids when they suck the sap. If I use this now will it also kill the Ladybugs when they eat the aphids? I know that insecticidal soap will kill the Ladybugs as well as the Aphids. I only want to get rid of the aphids, not the Ladybugs.

Years ago, before I realized that this tree was so attractive to aphids, they caused the leaves to shrivel up and turn yellow and fall off, which was a real mess, not to mention all the sticky stuff they exude dripping, and the ants crawling all over the tree (the ants "farm" the aphids so they can eat the sweet sticky stuff.)

If anyone knows how I can get rid of the aphids without killing the beneficial insects, I would love to hear from you.


Sande said...

The orioles are beautiful. How nice that they come to the feeder, even if you have to pick up after them. We usually have Baltimore orioles at our feeders but haven't seen many this year.

Anonymous said...

We used to have three of those orioles in our backyard in Laguna (SoCal). They were a family of two females and a male and they returned to my yard for several years--all three of 'em. They used to enjoy the H-bird feeders until I got them an oriole feeder.

Allison Ann Aller said...

I blast aphids with the knocks them off--doesn't kill them but keeps them at bay.
Pretty, pretty garden!