|Volunteers pounded more poles for our 2nd succession of tomatoes|
|It is pleasing to the eye.|
|Sucession planting. It's a beautiful thing.|
It is a beneficial ally to man.
The above is from the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech. I pulled up the wheel bug profile after a visit to one of our participant's gardens.
I've never seen such a large population in one area. Actually I've never seen one outside of Organic Gardening magazine. Wheel bugs belong to a group of insects known as Assassin bugs.The nymphs lack the "cogwheel crest"--but in no way was their presence diminished. When young, a wheel bug's abdomen is bright orange-red and curls upwards as if ready to pounce at the slightest provocation. Knowing that they were going to get even more freaky looking gave me the shivers. Shivers of respect. And also I was just amazed--why so many wheel bugs in this garden, why this place? Why here? What was special about this spot?
there was a 1941 John Deere tractor in the old wooden barn
the place hadn't been farmed in over forty years
the participant wants to expand into large-scale farming
his soil was more loamy than a lot I've seen out here
and I don't know---
I can't really explain how/what/where kind of experience it was to see the wheel bug in reality. Up until then butterflies and bees came to mind. Maybe a parasitic wasp or two. "Beneficial insect" hadn't hit home with me until I saw these strange, strange creatures. And the thought that a swarm of nymphs, and nymphs you welcome, is a real thing. Well, after learning what it is--at first you'd be freaking out! From gardening in Virginia, and just jumping in to this program, I've learned a lot more about insects than I realized. It really is true that the best way to master something is to teach it. As we help others learn I keep learning so, so much.
Seeing the many, many wheel bugs--traipsing around everything--in the beans, the corn, the potatoes. Wobblin around with those bright orange abdomens all wheeled-out like they own the place! Geeze.
I was wistful as to why I haven't seen a wheel bug in my garden, and still pondering why such a large population would exist in one garden vs. another. There is probably too many factors to be calculated by the brain of humanity to understand that fully. It was a successful visit though. The participant was not familiar with wheel bugs and thought they were a pest. Luckily, he now knows they are predators, predators that prey on what he wants to get gone--what we all want to get gone--the creatures who are eating my food who are not me!
We worked with a new volunteer today and a participant came by to ask if we had created a plan for fall crops yet. Slowly but surely this garden, and its network of gardens, are becoming a part of the community.
Go well and stay well, world.