It’s a Bug’s Life

Confession time.

Are you ready?

I’ve got some mad skills but they have little to do with gardening. I excel at raising insects and bugs.  Not to toot my own horn, but I think I might qualify for ‘Top Incubator of Garden Pests.’

Don’t believe me?  Come take a look:

After chatting you up about my gorgeous coleus, and my plans to take cuttings for next year, I found this:

Spider Mites or Whitefly?

Spider Mites or Whitefly?

I’m not sure if I have whiteflies or spider mites or both, but boy are they prolific. While watering the plant this evening, I removed a large, partially eaten leaf. When I turned it over, I could see that a small family had moved in. In just a week’s time, they spread to half of the plant’s leaves and part of the soil. Damn I’m good!

Next up, aphids.  Why settle for a hundred aphids when a gazillion will do?  The more the merrier, I always say.  I noticed a bit of ‘black soot’ on the stems of my soon to bloom Allium, but I just walked right on by.  Might as well let the aphids settle in first.



By the time I made it to the garden center for a batch of ladybugs, the party was well under way.  The ladybugs arrive in a container saying pre-fed.  Huh? I guess all that good aphid food will just go to waste.


Aphids, and the ladybugs that love them

Saving the best for last, will you take a look at that Scale?  I diligently removed all traces of scale earlier in the year while the tree was dormant.  I manually scraped the scale into a bucket, then went back over the young branches with warm soap and water.  I run a tight ship here. I cleaned those branches top to bottom to get the tree ready for the new residents.  They moved in early this summer, and show no signs of leaving.  In fact, it looks like they’ve invited a few guests.

scale on magnolia


In case you’re interested:

16 thoughts on “It’s a Bug’s Life

  1. Why ya buggin?! Those scales bug me too! Try a little less water on the coleus and a lil more sun to “burn” them off.
    Looks like it’s time for you to get some chickens for pest control.
    “Not all chickens are roosters but all roosters are chickens.”


    • Hee! Yes, chickens would have plenty to do around here, with eating bugs and snails while running away from Mouse all day long. Too funny! Interesting ideas on the coleus. I’ll reduce watering and see if that helps. Since the flies are under the leaves, does the sun still help?


  2. You crack me up with that dry wit. I had to move my house plants outside because of the little flies that were all over the house. Hope I finally get them under control before the seasons change. Nature always has the upper hand. Doesn’t it seem like we are growing things just to feed the insects?


    • Oh no! They are tough once you have them indoors, aren’t they? I worked in an office many years ago with plants cared for by an agency. Then to save money, they stopped paying for plant care and left it to someone who didn’t know what they were doing. They nearly drowned the plant by over watering and eventually they were covered in little flies or nits. It was miserable.

      I’ve been lucky with my indoor plants in recent years. Now doubt all the spiders lurking in the corners ready to pounce!


  3. OH NNNOOO_OOOO! I pictured you in your perfect bug free garden with your perfect bug free kitties ….. next you’ll be telling me they have fleas ….. [the kitties, not the flowers] My fairy tale illusions laid waste in the face of the natural world! I love, love, love that you can buy lady bugs from the nursery. I remember the days when they were just as much a part of the garden as the aphids – in fact they used to arrive at the same time in order to keep those hordes under control. Soldier on dear friend, soldier on!


    • Thanks for your support, Pauline. I’ve just watched a video on the decline of our beautiful red ladybugs. What a shame.

      You’re right…they are supposed to arrive just after the aphids. We’ve messed with the natural order of things and now everything is off kilter.

      Sorry to shatter your allusion of a perfect garden, but it was bound to happen eventually. Rest assured, however that our three cats are flea free, and because Mouse is a regular visitor, he gets the flea treatment as well. I love Advantage. What a boon for cats and dogs everywhere.

      It’s so nice to see your smiling face in the comments, Pauline.


  4. Gasp, what’s a girl to do? They say not all insects are bugs? Potaytoe, Patatoe…..they’re positively a menace. Eeeck, blech. screech and every other horrid reaction I can’t spell. Why didn’t your Lacewing clean up better I wonder? What slouches! Hope those lady bugs stay in the vicinity and not eat and run, you need all the help you can get. I’m beginning to think that scale would deter me from ever planting a magnolia, assuming I lived somewhere’s they grew. Which I don’t. I’d recommend a tall cool one on your little garden swing. If you sit back far enough you won’t even see these rotten critters 😀


    • Well guess what, they partially ate and ran! The nerve. Tonight I took the house and gave the plant a good blast. Each of us has brushed up against that plant at least once and came indoors covered in black soot. It’s right outside the patio door.

      I was doing a bit more reading on good bugs vs bad today, and I read that brown, not green lacewings eat scale. I wonder if we had the wrong eggs?

      I just feel sick every time I look at that magnolia. I really need to contact an arborist to see if anything can be done.


      • Do you worry about the cats bringing aphids inside? Can they live on furniture I wonder? Hey, brown lacewings are worth a try. I just think it’s gruesome too, so prolific even after all your work. I wonder what an arborist would recommend? Is it a tree that loses all the leaves in the fall? I wonder if you vacuum every single one up and then dig all the way around and remove the dirt? Where else could they come from?


        • I’m sure you are right about the dirt. That scale is gruesome. That’s a great word for it.

          As for aphids living indoors, they don’t seem to like it inside like nits and white flies do. I sure hope I”m write. The effected parts of the plant are too high up for the cats (hurray). The infestation is just below my shoulder height.

          LOL to the shop vac idea. I can see it no. [snicker snicker]

          This particular Magnolia does drop all of its leaves. Lots to thing about.


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