“Aw, I make a great ladybug, don’t you think ESP?”

“Oh yeah, looking real good now Lady Gaga!”

Ladybug!  Ladybug!

Fly away home.

Your house is on fire.

And your children all gone.

All except one,

And that’s little Ann,

For she crept under

The artemesia plant.

In Britain ladybugs are referred to as ‘ladybirds.’  It is believed that the word Ladybird was substituted for Ladybug in the American version of the nursery rhyme, due to the word association with Firebug meaning an arsonist or pyromaniac.  There has been some speculation that the rhyme originates from the time of the Great Fire of London in 1666.

photo by Steve VanGunda

Farmers of old knew the value of having the ladybirds around, reducing the amount of pests in their crops, it was traditional to cry out the rhyme before they burnt their fields following harvests.

I have a bumper infestation of ladybird larvae and ladybugs on my artemesia this year,

I had no idea this plant was such an attractant or host, another good reason to have a bunch of it.

I caught up with another large ladybug looking creature that was actually a beetle, a Milkweed Leaf Beetle:

Labidomera cliviollis


It was clambering around rather clumsily in this feather grass, the grass not able to hold it’s weight.

While we are on the subject of insects:

This metal dragonfly from the creative iron-working hands of Bob over there at: http://dracogardens.blogspot.com/ was a real hit in the Patch this week, and no accidents so far Bob!

It gets a tweaking at every opportunity:

The scorpion hook has taken pride of place in our hallway, I hung it down low for the hobbits to hang their coats on, the pincers are great for holding their Tolkien rings.

Thank you!

The elder hobbit now keeps asking…“so who is Bob”?

Oh yes, someone giving her gifts?  She has to get to the bottom of it.

One last bug communication I overheard this week…


“Wait lads!  Let me make sure the coast is clear”…

(Dog Whistles back over shoulder) then moves a bunch of legs in a series of marine-like gestures…

Winged reproductive termites

“Go! Go! Go!

I first noticed these alates (winged) or primary reproductive termites when a mocking bird dove over my head, did some mid-air aerobatics to snag a couple as they emerged from the side of my house. I quickly honed in with my camera…first one, then a few, then they began streaming out of my house like bats coming out from under Congress bridge.  This exodus is referred to as a dispersal nuptial flight, it is commonly referred to as swarming.   If I wasn’t there taking pictures of the event I am sure the birds would have been in a full-on feeding frenzy.  When the alates receive the proper cues (warm temperatures, bright sunlight, low winds, for example) they will leave the colony and fly away to start their own.  Male and female termites shed their rainbow colored wings and will pair up when a suitable mate is found.  When termites swarm they are often misidentified as “flying ants”, due to their visual similarities.

“Enough of this insect nonsense ESP, move with haste towardeth the plant talk!”


Central Texas has had some sporadic light drizzles this past week, and a little rain…

…drizzles that left water jewels defying gravity on the grasses…

and a dusting of dew on my hearts…

“Yes, yes” (obligatory noises).

…moisture that made the ragworts perspire.

Along with the moisture naturally came the now traditional, ESP snail hunt…

…and quite the bounty there was to had for nimble picking fingers, by the time they had finished, this bucket was three quarters full. 

When the sun made it out again, later in the day, I was emphatically summoned to the back of the garden for some sushi…the goldfish! Oh no the goldfish!…Could they? Would they?

“Allez cuisine!”

Thankfully this was the vegetarian feast that was awaiting me at the end of the garden, complete with post-oak chopsticks.  I thought the bamboo husks were a nice Michelin-star touch from my elder hobbit.  While I was devouring my garden sushi, (holding my head back and dropping it to the ground),  I noticed that my oldest clump of giant timber bamboo had developed fresh growth at it’s base…

…the funny thing was, the foliage was variegated?  Very odd, but I am not complaining.

The sun also dried out the barbed seeds that have now formed on my feather grasses, not sure if I should go around and strip these seeds now before they have a chance to blow around and germinate, what would you do?  I must have…


“A million seedlings?”

My loquats are in loquat heaven with the recent moisture, combined with a rather wet winter.

My stone crop waterfall is also starting to bloom with tiny white pendants that hang over the slabs.  This great little plant seems to grow where there is no soil.  I think it is now rooting on the debris that my Post Oak is emitting.

My Gaura lindheimeri parasols have also opened up this week.

Blue Lousisiana Iris are also popping into their tropical prime.

This one was hiding an unmentionable…

No, not him!

an unmentionable that was making one of my two Alice in Wonderland strawberries blush.

Can anybody Identify this plant?  It is about three feet tall.


And to finish…a 180 view from my new bench.

Stay Tuned for:

“Men in Black-foot daisies”



All material © 2010 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and

punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)

14th century planet Earth techniques.

  • Pam/Digging April 16, 2010, 8:03 pm

    That looks like a Gulf Coast penstemon, Philip, Penstemon tenuis.

    Ew, that termite swarm is alarming, coming out of your house like that. I once had a swarm, in our first Austin house, come out of a crack in the tiles in the master bath. That was a nice one!

    Thanks Pam, it is indeed. I got this one from my old neighbor, it is in a container. Do you grow this one in the ground, any invasive issues, or anything I should know about?
    Yes, I could not believe the termite swarm! they just kept coming out…I just kept snapping.

  • Les April 16, 2010, 8:19 pm

    I’d call them flying ants, then I could sleep at night.

    Yes, right there with you on that one Les!

  • Linda Lehmusvirta April 16, 2010, 8:23 pm

    Looks like gulf penstemon, I agree! Super plant. Looks great with columbine, too.

    Great pictures and stories as always! Holy gamoley on snail collection. Hope they don’t cross the road to my house. And how in the heck do they walk so far anyway?

    Ladybugs are eating aphids like crazy. They’re probably just hanging out on the artemesia taking a rest. We got fabulous video this week of the larvae eating aphids, so keep an eye out for the babies next. Your babies will be thrilled at the sight. And much more fun than snails. (I always keep some plants on way out to attract aphids to attract ladybugs. It’s a great time watching them in action.)

    Hi Linda.

    I will keep that combination in mind for future reference!

    Thank you, and yes how about those snails, I have never seen so many snails in the Patch as this year, they are sauntering around in biblical proportions creating lots of crunching under-foot! Naturally Nathan just goes around stepping on them…I hear him in different parts of the Patch “Ewwing”…I know what has happened.

    My artemesia has a bunch of ladybug larvae and ladybugs, I have been tracking the larvae, watching their “shells” develop, pretty amazing stuff. The hobbits are all about the snails at the moment though, I am not complaining, it seems they love the slimy harvesting.

  • Katina April 16, 2010, 9:52 pm

    Love that blue iris! And as always, your pictures blow me away.

    I introduced our cat to a snail yesterday when it was drizzly out. I don’t know which was more scared, the cat or the snail.

  • ESP April 16, 2010, 11:03 pm

    Hi Katina.

    The blue iris is in good form right now…kind of a dull plant for so long then “kaboom”…this happens and reminds me why I tolerate them.
    Did you stick the snail to your cats nose?


  • Jenny April 17, 2010, 5:26 am

    As usual some incredible close up shots of bugs and plants. However, I would not call that an “infestation” of ladybirds, but I would call it an infestation of termites or carpenter ants or whatever. Have you had the bug people out to deal with them before they eat your house away? I didn’t think we had flying termites here because they don’t tent houses like they do in California.
    Bob is so talented. I didn’t know he made decorative garden items.
    Remember that the decollate snail( long one) eats the other snails so don’t be adding them to the bucket collection.
    I agree that the plant is Gulf coast penstemon and it does reseed freely. Wonderful plant though.
    No ladybirds here yet but then so far no aphids and no harlequins so far.
    Your trailing sedum is Sedum potosinum. It is just coming into flower with little star flowers. You are right it looks like a little waterfall. I just love the shot of the patch looking down. Wonderful paving and beds.

    • ESP April 17, 2010, 6:09 am

      Hi Jenny, and thanks.

      Yes infestation is probably the wrong word…I am happy to have this sort of problem! But the termites? I was watching them emerge for about five minutes…quite the colony. Brrr!

      Now that the word is out on Bob, he may have to give up on the gates and focus solely on decorative garden items :-)

      I had not forgotten about the decollate snail, I remembered your post, though I think a few smaller ones may have found their way to the hobbities bucket.

      Thank you for the sedum ID, I have a lot of this and it really does look good spread over a large area at this time of year especially toward dusk, only then do the stars really come out.

      Thanks Jenny.


  • Robin at Getting Grounded April 17, 2010, 7:38 am

    ESP, love the ladybug pics! And yep, Gulf Coast Penstemon it is, a lovely shade bloomer for me. Nice to have a volunteer of it. However, the termite vision in my head scares me and I think I’ll pull the covers back over my head now. Sounds like the Patch is having a fun spring! Love that blue Iris.

    Hi Robin.
    The featured ladybug must have been brand new, probably the shiniest lady I have come across. All the ladybug larvae are all “forming” in front of my eyes on the artemesia, like some weird sci-fi movie. Talking of which, the termites would have made a great short movie…Darn, I should have ran inside for my Flip!
    The Iris is stunning right now, pity they don’t last long.

  • Tina Poe April 17, 2010, 9:08 am

    Great photos of the patch! I especially loved the ragworts.

    Thanks Tina…and a warm welcome to the ESP.

  • Pam/Digging April 17, 2010, 11:29 am

    The Gulf penstemon is not invasive for me, in either garden, but I do get seedlings from it here and there. As it takes some shade (unlike most penstemons) it combines wonderfully with columbine, pigeonberry, heuchera, oxalis, etc. Enjoy!

  • ESP April 17, 2010, 1:02 pm

    Hi Pam.
    Then it will be out of its container as soon as it has finished blooming. I do like the way it looks…sort of wild and free-form. Like I should be so concerned about it spreading…he with a hundred feather grasses!
    Thanks for the info Pam.

  • Bob Pool April 17, 2010, 10:34 pm

    I’m all for bring all organic in my vegetable garden but when it comes to termites in the house it’s time for the poison. If I had seen those termites there would have been a fog of poison so thick that someone would have called the fire department thinking the house was on fire.

    I’m glad the kiddos liked the bugs. I’ve built several of the dragon flies for my garden but I keep giving them away to people that visit. I built another Lady bug for your wife. I don’t know what she will do with it. I guess it would make a paper weight. They look really good though. Hope to see you soon, Bob

    • ESP April 18, 2010, 12:43 pm

      Hi Bob.
      I need to do some more research on these termites ie: is there now anyone left in the colony? But yes, if I see more I will be a’ fogging! The kids really did like the bugs, and were very excited that someone they have not met had given them a present!
      “So Daddy! Who is Bob?”
      “You have not met him”
      “But WHO IS he?”
      “A Garden blogger”
      “He’s in the computer?”
      Leah is also excited about her Ladybug.
      Thanks Bob.

  • noel April 18, 2010, 1:22 pm

    aloha esp

    i really enjoy the little funny quips you add to your posts especially all the great movie clips….haa, haaa

    your photography is really stunning, i’m really inspired by your posts today, thanks for sharing this with your fans!

  • Gail April 18, 2010, 2:05 pm

    I’m with Bob about the termites. ..and who is Bob?

  • ESP April 18, 2010, 5:09 pm

    Aloha noel.
    Glad you liked the posts…I have fans? :-) I do have a Mediterranean fan palm (ahem).
    Thank you for popping into the Patch.

  • ESP April 18, 2010, 5:11 pm

    Hi Gail.
    I have never seen termites before, I did not even know that some of them have wings!

    Bob who?

  • Pam/Digging April 19, 2010, 10:18 pm

    The termites are bad news, ESP. I should think you have a busy colony still eating away at your house somewhere. Rather than fogging the air, though, I think calling in a reputable company to inspect and treat is the way to go. The treatment has to be pumped into the ground around the foundation to get at the termites.

  • ESP April 20, 2010, 1:09 am

    Hi Pam.
    Have you witnessed this before in your Texas houses?

    The area that the termites emerged from was where the Tahoe truck hit our house…makes me think that the exposure of the new wood during repairs was irresistible to these termites…they just moved on in to chomp on new lumber!

    Thanks for your input Pam, I prefer home made solutions like jelly and tar / feathers to capture the termite pests, but well, we all know how that usually goes :-) (House suddenly crumbles down in a haze of termite dust)… Should have listened.


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