Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Dilly of a Plant

Do you have dill in your garden? I hope so. It's such a great plant. Architecturally it form attractive yellowish-green seed heads that are sort of umbrella shaped. It has a nice scent when brushed up against or when one runs their hands over the plant. It adds height to the garden and has a light, feathery stalk and leaves. There are tall varieties and dwarf varieties to fit any garden size.And if you like salmon (which I don't) you can use it kitchen in various recipes and salads. The number one reason I grow dill, however, is for it beneficial aspects with garden bugs.

Caterpillars and lady bug larvae love it! They use the plant for a food source and for laying their eggs. Since they prefer it to other plants in my garden sacrificing the dill saves other plants in the garden I much prefer in a more pristine state.

 The bugs get a healthy plant to complete their life cycle and I get butterflies and lady bugs throughout the summer. Bonus, the dill reseeds itself each year. It's not invasive at all. If it reseeds in the grass you can just run the mower over it. Double bonus, if I'm careful and quick about it I can gently stroke a caterpillar's head.

As someone who's terrified of bugs that's pretty bold for me. If you aren't going dill in your garden you should consider it. Its an organic way to help your garden stay in balance, remain healthy and who doesn't want butterflies flitting around among your flowers?
Got to pet this handsome fellow's head a few times. He doesn't particularly care for it, rearing his head back to glare up at me indignantly. Well, I guess he's staring. Can't really make out any eyes on his head with all the stripes and dots. Pretty sure there's a pair of eyes hidden in there somewhere.

 The caterpillar is pretty obvious but can you spot the lady bug in the photo above?

It was impossible to get a sharp photo of the lady bug larvae with my phone camera but you can kind of make out their dark shapes. The larvae are rather ugly and creepy looking. The first time I saw them was in my old rental home. The first spring there I discovered swarms of them in the side garden, freaked out not knowing what they were and killed them all with insecticide. I felt awful later when I realized what I'd done. I make a point of protecting the larvae now. I know folks who have to buy lady bug beetles but I get free ones each year thanks to providing a space for them in my garden with the right combination of plants.

[Correction:  There were a few lady bug larvae on the dill but the ones pictured here developed into caterpillars instead. Couldn't get a decent shot of the lady bug ones.]

Those black specks are more lady bug larvae eating their way to maturity.

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