Sunday, July 15, 2018

Rose Gall - Diplolepis rosae

Watering my garden this morning, I noticed yellowing leaves on my Rosa glauca. A sign of heat stress. Yet, as I looked closer, I saw a mossy mass which I've only ever seen once before.


I knew this is a rose gall, but I wasn't sure what was causing this gall.  Galls can 'grow' on all sorts of plants. Sometimes it's a sign that the plant is stressed.


I took my secateurs and cut the gall off with two sets of leaves at the base of the gall.


Mossy hard mass. Really cool.


Took my secateurs and cut the gall in half. Found several larvae in sections. Each within their own chamber.


They are in fact larvae from a wasp.

Non-native - an European introduction called: Diplolepis rosae.

The most fascinating aspect is: how the heck did they get in there?

Adult wasps lay eggs on the plant and once a larva hatches, it begins to feed on leaf bud tissue, and an amazing process begins. The host plant is stimulated somehow with the feeding, where cells from the surrounding tissue multiply, adding layers of tissue - forming this gall. The larvae within, creates a microhabitat, where not only they are protected and housed, but the chambers they indwell also become their food source.  A hotel with room service, if you will.

Pretty cool.


However, since it's an non-native intruder, I squished the gall and disposed of it. Removing and destroying it may sound harsh, but doing so before the gall dries out and the wasps emerge, will help to reduce the infestation. I fear if we don't handle these invaders properly, they will take over and cause major issues down the road.

Neat eh?



Saturday, June 30, 2018

Creeping Jenny Eaten By Sawfly Larvae

What's eating my Creeping Jenny?


Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'), is a staple in any garden. Used as a perennial ground cover or trailer for containers and hanging baskets - it grows in sun or shade.

So when I walked through the garden this morning, something was awry. I noticed foliage had been eaten; nearly every leaf was damaged.

On closer inspection, these Monostegia abdominalis larvae were happily munching away. Grrrr.


Great, here's another alien insect, reeking havoc in Ontario. Another introduction from Europe we don't need.

These "caterpillars" are in fact sawfly larvae.  Check out this link by Kansas State University to see the difference.


In total, I collected 23 from this one spot.

They are known to feed on foliage within the Loosestrife family of plants, which Creeping Jenny Lysimachia is classified under.

No spraying necessary, it took me no more than 4 minutes to gather them. They are quite easy to find as their silver/grey coating is a great contrast to the lime green foliage. Do Note: once you touch them, they coil and drop off the leaves.  They are known to have 2-3 life cycles per season. These came out in late June, so keep checking your plants for any other generation that may come 'calling'!

One bonus, they became a great snack for our Koi fish in the pond.

Here's Wikipedia's taxonomy description:  Monostegia abdominalis


Friday, June 22, 2018

Tree Sweaters - Yarn Bombing

This post may not have true horticultural content, but I felt compelled to share.

I usually have many distractions walking downtown Toronto. There's so much to take in. Like today, I couldn't help but notice colourful, eye catching sweaters adorning tree trunks. Well, not actually sweaters, but crocheted/knitted items that were wrapped around trunks.


I must say, they are quite creative.



Some are simply granny squares, colourfully designed...


...others are whacky characters.



They certainly took a lot of time and effort to make. They also made many a passer by smile.


Part of me giggled, enjoyed and appreciated the effort and the skill the artist(s) demonstrated.

Part of me worries about what may lurk under these yard bombing sweaters.  You can be certain, many insects nest and hide beneath these crocheted items. I checked. I found earwigs, pill bugs and two egg sacks. That and moisture are not a good combination for the health of the tree. If the yarn stayed sopping wet, it would be the equivalent of wearing a bandaid around your finger all the time. Not the best way to preserve the tree's health.

I'm divided. I would say depending on the type of crocheted/knitted stitch, I think there could be a happy middle ground. The more air that a tree trunk receives the better. The more the community engages with trees, the better - as I hope this "art" achieves. 

To the artist - well done, but make sure you keep the best interest of the trees in mind first before any other intention.

What do you think?




Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Living Walls - Update

I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised when visiting this living wall again. It has been nearly 4 months since I last stopped to take a look.  Here is my last post to refresh your memory:  Living Walls - Still Not Sure...

My hunch was correct.  A slow state of decline is apparent.


 Lots of yellowing foliage is seen in various spots.


Simple care plants like Philodendrons even yellowing is not a good sign.


Large pockets of missing plants.



Dieffenbachia plants struggling...it's so sad.

Well, I hate to report such a sorry state, but like I mentioned in my original post: living walls require attention and constant care. Great idea - but to say it takes minimal maintenance, the evidence proves otherwise.

Be sure if you decide upon installing one, to invest in a maintenance routine that creates great results.


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