Bee and let bee with fuzzy wuzzy caterpillars

As a kid, I played with these “fuzzy wuzzies” like crazy. So now, even when they’re chomping a few plants, I leave them alone.

fuzzy wuzzy caterpillar on chrysanthemum

This one is a saltmarsh caterpillar (one of the woolly bears) that pupates into a white moth. The ones with red stripes are a different genus and turn into the giant leopard moth.

Bees joined the party on the bedraggled ‘Butterpat’ mums. (I’ll get around to deadheading this weekend to extend the blooming and tidy things up).

Bee on 'Butterpat' mum

A beetle I’ve always called the spotted cucumber beetle came in for a bite, too. If it’s not that beetle, it’s another that’s up to no good.

Bee and beetle on chrysanthemum

A common mistake is blasting “some kind of” insecticide whenever anyone shows up, without knowing if it’s the right treatment. Many common products, even organic, wouldn’t bother my fuzzy wuzzy at all, but would end the bee’s life. Maybe or maybe not they’d kill the beetle. I just left everyone alone to work it out.

An important revelation to me as a new gardener was learning to read labels. Now, I know a little bit more, so I REALLY read labels. We can be enticed by the words “organic” and “natural”. Indeed, they may be perfectly natural, but will naturally kill a lot of beneficials in your garden.

The only pesticide I use now is Bt when caterpillars are chomping my mountain laurels to twigs. Or spinosad bait and orange oil drenches when the fire ants are out of control.  Otherwise, if something really “bugs” me, I use the best organic treatment: my hands or my foot. Even then, I’m cautious, because “good bugs” can fool you when they’re in their larval stage by looking like something evil. I’ve heard more stories of organic gardeners squashing lady bug larvae.

Since this is a time of year we step back and reflect on our triumphs, tragedies, and lessons learned the past 11 months, this week on CTG, we do something a little different. Instead of our usual format, we bring together Tom, Trisha, Daphne and John in a roundtable conversation for a chance to get to know them better.

Hear how they got started in gardening, their latest revelations, and why organic gardening guides them. We thank Vicki, along with other viewers, who asked us to do this special segment.

Country Girl chrysanthemum

Until next week, Linda