GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2003 show12
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Show #12

This week we visit the "Crawloseum" at The Gardens of Callaway." We see some unusual bugs and learn about IPM - Integrated Pest Management.


Celia Stewart Whitman is the curator and will act as our guide. This is a bug exhibit, but more correctly an Arthropod exhibit. An Arthropod is defined as an animal with an Exoskeleton. It's an animal with a hard crunchy shell with joined paired appendages, such as legs or antennae and they are cold blooded or exothermic. The Arthropod group is divided into four subgroups. Myriapods consists of Millipedes and Centipedes which have more than six legs. Insects is a group and they have six legs. Arachnids, are Spiders, Scorpions and their relatives, Ticks. The fourth subgroup is Crustaceans, Shrimp, Lobster and Crab. Anthropoids help keep our planet clean.

Myriapods are wonderful recyclers. The Giant African Millipede is from equatorial Africa and is larger than anything in the U.S. It is Detridevor, it feeds on dead plant material and leaf litter. It is similar to an Earthworm in that when it excretes matter it re-nitrogenates the soil, improving the soil. There are a number of differences between Millipedes and Centipedes. Millipedes have two pair of legs on every body segment. They are slow moving and friendly. A Centipede is a little flatter and has one pair of legs per body segment. It is faster moving and a predator, some species will bite. Both are beneficial to the garden because they feed on other insects.

Bugs in the water are bio-indicators. If there a lot of different species in the water it is safe to assume that the water is healthy. If there are only one or two species and not a lot of those, it is safe to assume there is probably some pollution problems. Sunburst Diving Beetles, when diving will take a little bubble of air on their back as they submerge. This allows them to stay underwater for some time, a kind of aqua lung. Toe Biters are predator water bugs. They lay their eggs on the males back and he cares for them until they hatch.

The Orchid Mantis is from Southeast Asia, it has the exoskeleton discussed, although in this case it is a multiexoskeleton. As the insect grows it develops another, larger exoskeleton. This insect blends in with the surroundings. It feeds on other insects, similar to a green Praying Mantis. It will sit very quietly, very still on an Orchid, when a Bee comes by to pollinate, it will nab it. They may kill their mate after breeding if hungry, otherwise she won't bother. The green variety common in our country kills all sorts of insects in the garden. The Dead Leaf Mantis looks like a dead leaf, that is its' camouflage. A Praying Mantis egg case will house hundreds of tiny miniature Mantises. They make them in fall or early spring. The fall ones over winter and hatch in the spring. It is helpful to spread them out in the yard otherwise they will cannibalize each other.

The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach hisses as a mechanism to defend itself. It is trying to scare off predators. the muscles in its' body contract and forces air through the little dark spots on its body. The hard shape on one end is not the head but a bony plate, it acts as armor and protects the head, which is relatively small. Cockroaches are meticulous groomers, they constantly clean themselves. It has never been proven that they carry disease. As housekeepers they are lacking. They shed their skin and leave excrement. Cockroaches are attracted to food and water. Many live outside but like to come inside for food and water. By keeping food in containers and not leaving crumbs they will be less inclined to be attracted to living spaces.

If you are a Frugal gardener you may want to consider starting annuals from seed rather than from plants. It saves money but it takes time, oftentimes it is late summer before blooms appear. If taking this approach, select plants that reseed easily, for example Cosmos or Zinnias. You'll get a lot of color at a very low price.

Beetles are a favorite of Celia. They have been around for a long time and have evolved with flowers. They were some of the first pollinators, without Beetles flowers wouldn't have evolved. Their hard wing covers, Elytra, helped them evolve. Under those hard wings are their fore wings. The hind wings are membranous, they have veins. Some Beetles have fused Elytra, they have lost their ability to fly because they don't have the need. Some species are flatter, they like to dig or go under bark or under ground, the Elytra protects the wings keeping them in good shape. One of the easiest ways to kill a bug is to limit water, the Elytra helps hold in moisture, an essential ingredient for life. Beetles have adapted to every environment in the world, even Death Valley, the Elytra facilitates this. The Atlas Beetle has long legs with claws because they like to climb trees and hang on branches. They will defend themselves however their mouth is quite small. It feeds on rotten fruit, but they can't eat the skin of a Banana. This variety, a male, has big horns that make it look scary. They use them to fight other males for the right to mate with females. Beetles can be a benefit to a garden, some can cause damage, the Japanese Beetle is an example. The Metallic Frog Beetle is a member of the Leaf Beetle family, Chrysamelody. Their color resembles an oil slick when the sun shines on it. The Metallic Frog Beetle name comes from the fact that they have large, expanded hind legs on the males. The Yellow Stag Beetle is another magnificent bug from Southeast Asia. They are different because their jaws are enlarged. Their huge jaws are in the front of their head and their eyes are wide spread. They can cause quite a pinch but eat only rotten fruit and mushy sap from trees because it can't chew very well. The Vinegaroon or Whip Scorpion looks scary but is actually fairly harmless. They are found in the Southwestern U.S., in Mexico and Central America. The front, long, skinny legs are feeler like appendages. They use them as a blind person would a cane because they can't see very well. The long whip tail has little sensory hairs. It can detect body temperature, wind speed and all sorts of different chemical reactions. They are called Vinegaroon because they can shoot acidic acid or vinegar at their predators. Another Scorpion, the Desert Hairy Scorpion, has a painful, though not deadly or poisonous, sting. They are crabby, will sting often so don't mess with them. All Scorpions will glow a bluish color if you shine a black light on them.

The Mexican Blond Tarantula is a spider. Tarantulas are fairly calm and most can be handled. The old world species are crabbier. Spiders are beneficial in the garden. They feed on other insects, anything from Mosquitoes to larger insects. They feed on good as well as bad insects but keep the insect population down in a garden. The Brown Recluse is fairly common in the Southern states and into the Midwest. The Black Widow and Brown Recluse have an undeserved reputation. People may have a bad reaction to their bite but very few people actually die from the bite. It might rot away a portion of the skin where the bite occurs and the skin could need to be surgically removed but generally the bite can be treated with antibiotics and in time will heal. To avoid these spiders avoid their normal habitats, places like old flower pots, shoes, boots, wood piles, etc. As the name Recluse says they would rather run from you than bite. Wear gloves when cleaning the attic, closet, basement or garage, this will help avoid a bite. The Black Widow, according to Celia, is quite beautiful. An excellent anti venom has been developed for their bite. There a several different species. The Eastern species "Mactans" is prevalent in the southeast. In the southwest the species is "Hesperus." They are not aggressive and will run from you. They can be identified by the red hour glass on their underside.

Myriapods are Crustaceans - Crawdad, Crayfish, Crabs, Lobster. They are good recyclers, they eat plant material, little critters, they're scavengers, they eat all sorts of things.


Celia reminds us all insects are beneficial, they may just not be beneficial to us.

Nicole Gamble is an Entomologist and discusses with us how to keep bugs ar bay in our garden. IPM or Integrated Pest Management helps us keep pests under control. The idea is to use several different tools, including chemicals, to keep pests under control. IPM is an attitude. You decide how many insects you can tolerate in a given situation. For example there may be an insect feeding on the foliage of a vegetable plant, but not affecting the vegetables. You need to decide whether its necessary to take action or not. The goal is to do the minimum to keep bugs at bay. Keep a balance of insects, good and bad. First see if you have pests, then see what they are. An aspirator or mouth operated bug vacuum is an important tool. Point the tool at the bug, suck it into the aspirator (there is a screen to keep it out of the mouth), once the insect is captured, use a magnifying loop and determine the type of bug. This is important, instead of killing all bugs in the garden, by knowing the exact type bug, you then know specifically what bug you want to eliminate. As well different bugs have different methods of feeding. Some have mouth parts that are like straws, they pierce into the plant and suck. A different chemical is needed for these pests versus those that chew all over the place or that deposit eggs into the stem, etc. There are 5 arms of control in IPM, cultural, physical, mechanical, biological and chemical. It is a hierarchy, start out culturally then move down to chemical. Cultural might include something as simple as rolling up your hose after use instead of leaving it on the ground. By leaving it on the ground it allows for fungus to get into the tip of the hose, when watering the next time the fungus sprays on your plants. With a lot of rain in parts of the country this is an important step in controlling fungus. Remove the first leaves that show symptoms of disease before it has a chance to spread to other plants. These are cultural remedies. Mechanical and physical may go hand in hand. A trap is a mechanical control. Physical may be as simple as picking insects off a plant. Go into the garden with a Mason jar with soapy water and knock Japanese Beetles into the mix. You may want to attract certain bugs because they will control other bugs. Praying Mantis and Ladybugs are among some of the bugs that are widely and commercially available and that control harmful bugs. Some of these bugs, raised commercially, will tend to take off after released. Release them late in the day, cover the area with a net or tarp and let them get used to the area and a large portion should stay. Dragonflies are voracious eaters of Mosquitoes, thus good to have around. They are attracted to water, so if you incorporate a water feature into your yard the Dragonflies should help with Mosquito control. Consider IPM as a pest control method.

Link: Callaway Gardens

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