Milkweed Bugs

Are Your Milkweeds Going to Seed?
Do you want to Harvest the Seed?
If not, don’t worry about it! If so, Protect the Seed!

The Milkweed Bug Oncopeltus fasciatus. You will see that orange-red and black six-legged critter on your milkweeds this time of year. They are herbivores but highly specialized. Like the pickiest eater you know, they only eat one type of food, milkweeds. You will never see them on your tomatoes, squash, or roses, so do not fear the milkweed bug! They do not bite or sting and will never chase you down. They are used as research insects because they are so docile and easy to manipulate. Their only “natural” predator is a gardener with a hose. Since they have no other natural predators, you’ll notice they’ve never learned to escape quickly so you can pick them off. There is no need for chemical assault, not to mention the damage you do to your monarchs if you apply chemicals.
You see, the red and black color combination is no mistake; it is a warning sign to any potential predator that they will be a particularly nasty meal. Their tissue is infused with the toxins from milkweed sap which they ingest with their piercing proboscis. They feed on leaves, stems, and seeds but do not usually cause excessive damage to the plant. If you want to collect seeds to use or share next year, it would be a good idea to protect the pods you want with an organza mesh bag. That way, you can be sure that all the embryos have adequately developed without being robbed of nutrition by our little danger flagmen.
You will notice little brown spots on the surface of the green pods that are not protected. The pod was pierced to get to a developing seed in these spots. The bugs do not destroy all the seeds in the pod but given that Monarchs have just been put on the endangered species list, I want to ensure I’m handing out good seeds when I encourage folks to plant them.
You can find organza bags on the internet and at craft stores. I recommend using white bags to reduce heat absorption; they come in different sizes and can be reused yearly.
For more on these little critters see this link at the Pollinator Web:–%20they,and%20cause%20misshapen%20seeds%20and%20lower%20seed%20production.

June 2022 Meeting

JUNE — A nature advocate and wildlife photographer and a Hall County Master Gardener, Karin Hicks spoke on “Creating a Hedgerow for Wildlife.”  She shared her adventures with creating a hedge row that met the standards of her HOA. Using a variety of plants with natives being the backbone, she created layers of plants to support wildlife and create privacy. Due to the mixed nature of a hedgerow loosing one plant won’t create a gap tooth look that happens if one plants a uniform hedge using one type of plant such as Leyland Cyprus or Boxwoods. Karin shared her plant list which is a good starting point. Use sites such as NWF.ORG plant list function, GNPS.ORG for plant descriptions, and Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder,, to read about plant needs and native status. For more information on hedge rows check out: What is a Hedgerow and Why You Should Plant One – Growing with Nature

June 2021 Monthly Meeting

Our June 21st Zoom meeting welcomed Dr. Juliana Razryadov for a very educational and informative program. Entitled Big Splash Small Space: Native Plants for Container Gardens, Juliana will gave us a review of container gardening that brings nature to our doorstep.  She reviewed native plants available that form beautiful compositions in limited spaces.  We learned about pots, overwintering, media composition, and species of native plants that suit them..  Juliana is presently the Botanical Collections Manager at the Botanic Gardens of Wellesley College and was previously the Curator of Horticulture at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

A Bit of Dirt – 1994 Newsletters

Click the link below each description to read the full newsletter.  In addition to the articles mentioned in each issue are additional association information.

Issue 1, Winter, “Thoughts on a Garden”; “The Winter Garden”; “The Horticultural Creed”

BOT-1994 Winter – Issue 1

Issue 2, Spring, “Roses between the Pages”; “Different and Exciting Plants for Your Garden”; “Make ‘em at Home” (bird perches and feeders); “Looking for old Garden Roses?
BOT-1994 Spring – Issue 2

Issue 3, Summer, “Shrubs for Summer”; “My Friends or ‘Who is this Grace’”; “Gardeners Bookshelf”; “The Herb Corner”; “Gardening Adventures”

BOT-1994 Summer – Issue 3

Issue 4, Fall, “Checklist for Fall”; “Native Plants, Ecosystems and Restoring the Land – ‘What’s that got to do with Me’”; “Doing Some Detective Work”; “Why Should I”; “On Vacaton” (British Isles); “The Extension Line”; “Cullowhee”; “The Gardeners Bookshelf”

BOT-1994 Fall – Issue 4

Issue 5, Winter, “”The Extension Line”; “Bats are more than Halloween”; “Holidays are for the Birds”; “The Dancing Worms”; “Our Club’s History”; “Scented Memories”

BOD-1994 Winter – Issue 5