Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Second Look--August 19, 2015

August has been living up to its reputation with very hot and humid days. A few things are thriving, but many plants are stressed under the heat and just biding their time until some cooler weather comes. That's my strategy at the moment also.

This week has been my time to learn about caterpillars--bagworms and oakworms to be specific. Last week I showed you a bag worm that I found on one of our juniper trees and said that I needed to investigate. Well, I did and found while there were several bags on the tree, there had not been a lot of damage. I thought I would just pick off what I could reach and the tree would probably be in okay shape.  I decided to put the bags I removed with the yard waste that would be picked up the next day. They would soon be ground up with the rest of the branches and be gone. That way I didn't have to worry about any kind of pesticides.

One of the attached bag worms.
That plan was based on some assumptions that weren't quite right. Although I had never seen a bag worm, I assumed that it must be some kind of caterpillar. And the bags were its chrysalis. That was right. Sort of. You see, the bag worm just doesn't go into the bag as a caterpillar to turn into a moth, it lives in the bag only to come out to mate and die. The eggs hatch in a bag, grow up in a bag dragging it along as they eat their way into bigger and bigger caterpillars. They use it for protection from both from the elements and predators. They can open and close the top and use silk to attach it to things when they want to rest or hide. Quite ingenious, actually. And I learned all of this the hard way.

The next morning after my picking, Ward went outside to take the recycling to the curb and called me to come see something. Bag worms were all over the bins and cans and some of the near by plants. Some were sealed inside their bag and some were crawling along half in and half out of the bag dragging it along. Very interesting to watch, but now I had to pick up all of the escaped bags and squish them with my shoe. Or who knows what kind of infestation I might have spread. Next time, I will handle things a bit differently.

The story of the oakworm is not nearly so exciting. I saw an interesting, brightly colored caterpillar crawling across my patio yesterday. A little investigation revealed that it was an oakworm that uses oak leaves as its food source. However, they usually don't do permanant damage to the trees, so I let it go along its way. While we have a lot of oak trees around, there were none close by. That little guy had a lot of crawling to do for its next meal.

Here a few things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Day lily

Geranium, Rozanne

Hydrangea. I have two hydrangea bushes and one one of them hasn't bloomed for the last two years. However, this one has continued its pattern of a few blooms every year. 

Blanket flower. Can you find the stinkbug on it?




Oakworm caterpillar

Bagworm and bag crawling on the trash can. I find it interesting the way it has not only used juniper needles for its bag, but has also used juniper berries.


  1. The bagworm is somewhere between fascinating and revolting to me. I'm sorry you had to go through the elimination process twice! What a job!

    Thanks for ending your post with pretty flowers ...

    1. I totally know what you mean about the bag worms. While picking the bags, it was all quite harmless. The next morning, I was kind of grossed out.

  2. Oh my what a mess you had to contend with. I'll have to remember this if I ever come across any myself. Lovely flowers. There isn't much thriving here either but for the opposite reason, too cold that and the lack of rain after so much in June.

    1. Besides the heat, we haven't had much rain either. They're calling for rain today. I hope we get it because we really need it.

  3. It is hot and humid and everything revolting here, but we have had enough rain that things are blooming rather nicely. ( Well lantana, and zinnias and other flowers that can bear extreme heat)
    I can't believe you still have a lily in August. Pea green with envy!

    1. I saw a day lily blooming in a part of the yard where they haven't bloomed in a long time. However, it was gone by the time I got out there with the camera. However, I think I can find at least one more bloom for next week.


What do you think?