Hot weather and occasional rain really bring out the bugs. Although this summer’s insect trends are mostly unknown, you can expect plenty of insect activity.
Japanese beetle season is in full swing. Their main targets have been the leaves of plums, zinnias and pole beans, not to mention flowers and leaves of roses.
Knockout roses are having a particularly rough year so far. Some of them are almost totally bare due to leaf-eating pests like rose slug and Japanese beetle plus the effects of black spot disease.
Assassin bugs stalk their prey on many kinds of plants. Gray and red with a long snout, these predators kill and eat other insects.
For at least a month, lightning bugs have been flashing their lights to each other using natural bioluminescence. Females stay on the ground while males fly around looking for them.
Your lawn is the habitat of lightning bugs. Trees also attract them.
You know summer has arrived when insects in the oaks and other trees begin to sing at night. The seesawing cadence of katydids and crickets, now rising in volume, will soon be punctuated by the drone of annual cicadas.
Butterflies are appearing in greater numbers and varieties every week. Lime green parsley worms, the larvae of black swallowtail butterflies, could show up on your parsley plants at any time this month.
Gnats are not as bad as they have been in previous summers. Biting flies that zero in on your ankles are a greater problem with their painful rasping bite that is accompanied by a nagging itch.
Ladybugs are hard at work, eating aphids, mites and other small creatures. Perhaps you will notice their yellow eggs laid in groups on leaves. The babies hatching from those eggs resemble tiny alligators. While transforming to an adult ladybug, they form a hard pupal case or shell that sticks to plants.
Of course, this is the height of mosquito season. They breed in standing water so you must try to eliminate it whenever possible.
A swarm of tiny flying insects hovering over your yard in late afternoon or evening may resemble mosquitoes. More likely it is nothing more than a harmless aggregation of midges getting together for a brief mating season.
We are fortunate to have the non blood-feeding kinds of midges in our region. In other parts of the country, people have to deal with bad midges such as no-see-ums and black flies.
Doodlebugs have been busy around homes especially under the eaves where soil stays dry. Also known as antlions, they make groups of small pit traps, wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. Ants fall in and do not crawl out.
Leaving your porch light on at night is one way to find out about the various insects flying around. There could be lace wings, moths, beetles and an occasional giant European hornet. You might even see a Dobson fly, one of the largest winged insects in North America.