(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on August 26, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)
Now I know some will argue, but I’ve never been a fan of insects or other multi-legged creatures simply based on their appearance. When I see even a tiny bug, I can’t help but think of some close-up view I’ve seen and how ugly they are at that resolution. When the critter is large enough that a high-resolution photo isn’t needed to see its creepiness, I’m a goner. I’ll share my wolf spider experience sometime, but for now, back to the goldenrod.
I wanted a goldenrod, and purchased Solidago ‘Laurin,’ both for its bright yellow color and short height. So on this particular evening I discover that evidently some nasties found it attractive too. Those who know me would have been proud. I remained completely calm, and went in the house to ask Handsome Man to come look.
He accompanies me outside, I lead him to the offending location, gracefully extend my arm toward the goldenrod not unlike Vanna turning a letter and say, “Friend or foe?” Handsome Man bends down, squints, does some intrusive poking, and finally states, “Sweetheart, I don’t think there’s any way this could be good.” It took everything that was in me to resist the impulse to scream, flap my hands, and jump around the yard as though my pants were on fire. I have become so adult.
Handsome Man immediately wants to get the Sevin, a particularly nasty pesticide made by the devil himself, but I think I’ve read somewhere that you’re supposed to spray them with a hose to get them off the plants. The water hose sounds environmentally friendly, although the idea of them dying a painful death doesn’t disturb me one bit. I make him wait while I string out the hose and turn on the water.
Our water pressure is good but the little buggers hung on like they were river rafting. Handsome Man and his water sprayer nearly beat the beloved Solidago to death, stance reminiscent of a knight slaying a dragon. The dragons, however, positively enjoyed their water ride. The weaker ones that were finally knocked off ran in a long stream toward a sand cherry bush, Prunus besseyii, another treasured plant in that bed. I decide Handsome Man is right and let him get the dreaded Sevin, the dragon-killer.
You don’t want to be downwind of that Sevin, I’ve determined. I’m sure the white powder is worse than breathing asbestos. Handsome Man shook it over the goldenrod and the sand cherries. I suspect he was having a good time, because he ended up shaking it all over the garden bed. All he needed was music. Sevin is his job, because I can’t even handle the pictures on the label, which explains why I’ve never read the label and only assume its ferocity.
The garden after its "frost" appears at left.
We went inside to wait for results, and for me to check BugFiles for our offenders. I am half fearful that we just eliminated something as beneficial as an earthworm or bumble bee, but how can something so ugly be a friend? BugFiles is not easy for me. It is filled with highly zoomed photos that make even a butterfly look alien. I kept telling myself it was for the good of the garden, that I should take one for the team, my flowers and I being the team, and bravely set about my quest.
Fortunately, I could ignore arachnids altogether, but there is nothing in BugFiles about Huns, the name I’ve given my unwanted guests. Handsome Man thought beetles, so I went there first. The soft-winged flower beetle was close, but there weren’t many photos. I gathered my nerve to Google some of the Latin words. I fear every time I do this that some gruesome antennaed fiend will appear as large as my monitor. I settle for the soft-winged flower beetle, exact species unknown. My bravery astounds me.
A cousin to The Offender appears at right.
Outside some time later I’m certain the beetles are shaking with laughter at our efforts, but Handsome Man says they’re having seizures and that this is a good sign. We came back again to find little corpses lying in the snow. Identification of the offenders is now impossible because there is no way to determine color. Sevin makes all critters look silvery, and unfortunately the plants themselves look like they’ve seen an early frost. But the bugs are deader than hammers! All of them! I only hope the neighbors don’t ask how we got snow in August. Sevin snow is as difficult to explain as critter heebie-jeebies that cause jumping, screaming, and hand-flapping.
I couldn't take pictures of the creatures en masse. Nerves would not allow me to get so close. The trophies of my victory, however, lie in the mulch. And I'm proud.