Posts Tagged: catmint
if you're growing plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae--you know, the plants with the square stalks and opposite leaves--you may see a very tiny reddish-orange visitor.
It's so tiny that it's smaller than the leaf of a catmint (Nepeta). Its wing span is probably about 10 to 15 millimeters.
This little critter (below) is a California Pyrausta Moth (Pyrausta californicalis), as identified by butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis. Pyrausta is a genus of moths in the Crambidae family.
We spotted this one Saturday morning in our yard, foraging in the catmint. This is one moth you'll see during the day!
"Pyrausta californicalis is a native feeder in the mint family, which is often quite common on cultivated exotic mints, including spearmint, peppermint, etc.," Shapiro said.
In fact, Shapiro found the mint moth in his own garden in Davis for two decades "until I took the spearmint out."
And, it occurs on introduced mint in his Gates Canyon study site near Vacaville, Calif.
What's behind the catmint leaf (Nepeta)? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This is a California Pyrausta Moth (Pyrausta californicalis) on catmint. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of California Pyrausta Moth (Pyrausta californicalis) on catmint. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The wool carder bees (Anthidium manicatum), so named because the females collect or "card" plant fuzz for their nests, move quickly. The males, more aggressive and very territorial, move even faster.
The wool carder bee is an Old World bee introduced into the United States (New York) in 1963. It was first discovered in California (Sunnyvale) in 2007.
Today we spotted one in our Vacaville yard that didn't seem to be in much of a hurry.
In fact, it sidled up to the catmint (Nepeta) and appeared to be having a conversation. No, not with an empty chair. With a mint leaf.
No, said native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and one of the instructors at the annual Bee Course at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Ariz.; this year's course takes place Sept. 10-20.)
"This one is a boy bee," Thorp said. "Note the prominent golden fringe hairs along the side of the abdomen and the edge of the tooth-like processes at the tip of the abdomen. Also the lower part of the face (the clypeus) is mostly yellow."
So there you have it, a boy bee!
I'm still wondering why he wasn't body-slamming the honey bees and engaging in other aggressive and territorial escapades.
Male European wool carder bee heads for a catmint (Nepeta) leaf. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Male European wool carder bee on catmint (Nepeta). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The skipper wasn't skipping.
In fact, it wasn't doing much of anything.
The fiery skipper butterfly (Hylephila phyleus), tangled in a spider web, struggled furiously to free itself.
Not going to happen. The sticky substance stuck to her like super glue.
It's a scene you don't often see. This time, however, before the resident spider on the catmint could grab its prey, I released the skipper.
Sorry, spider. Gotta protect the pollinators.
Fiery skipper struggles to free itself in a spider web. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Head of fiery skipper shows the tangled sticky strands of a spider web. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Released fiery skipper ready to flutter away. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you want to attract honey bees in your garden, you can't go wrong by planting catmint (genus Nepeta).
Honey bees like the mints. So do cabbage white butterflies, wool carder bees, carpenter bees and hover flies, among other insects.
Nepeta is easy to grow. It can tolerate drought, neglect and an occasional cat. The soft lavender flowers amid the gray-green foliage add a dreamy mood to the garden. Catmint is also a perfect hiding spot for spiders trying to grab dinner. Gardeners claim it's resistant to deer (that's why we have no deer!) and to rats. Don't know why rats avoid it, but it must have something to do with the cats!
A rather sluggish honey bee paused last weekend, long enough for us to capture a few images. Unlike the plant, she didn't appear to be in mint condition. She stood out, stood up, and slipped to the ground.
Honey bee working the catmint (Nepeta). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee atop catmint. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of a honey bee on catmint. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
When the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven's grand opening celebration takes place on Saturday, Sept. 11, visitors can expect to see scores of flowers, including the ever-popular catmint (Nepeta).
Honey bees love the mints. So do bumble bees, carpenter bees, butterflies and assorted other insects.
The event, sponsored by Wells Fargo and co-sponsored by Annie's Homegrown, takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The half-acre bee friendly garden is located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis.
What else is in the garden?
Well, among the plant growth: acacia, almond, apple, artichoke, basil, blackberry, blueberry, broccoli, cape mallow, eggplant, elderberry, hawthorn, honeysuckle, Mexican hat flower, oregano, peppers, persimmon, plum, purple coneflower, redbud, salvia, Santa Barbara daisy, seaside daisy, strawberry, watermelon, wild roses and scores of other plants.
The key goals of the garden, a gift to the UC Davis Department of Entomology, are to provide bees with a year-around food source for the Laidlaw facility bees, to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees, and to encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own. It's also a research site.
The grand opening celebration will include speeches (to start at 10:30 a.m.); rotating garden tours; children's activities; and a bee observation hive. Experts on honey bees, native bees, plants and the beautiful art work in the garden will be there to answer your questions.
You'll want to see the fabulous 6-foot-long honey bee, "Miss Bee Haven," sculpted by noted artist Donna Billick and funded by Wells Fargo. You'll marvel at the the colorful ceramic tiles beneath the sculpture and the two bee hive sculptures that grace the entrance, all by the UC Davis Art-Science Fusion Program, directed by Donna Billick and Diane Ullman.
The winning design team, from the Sausalito area, will be represented. The design is the work of landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki.
Cagwin and Dorward Landscape Contractors installed the garden, which was planted last fall. Häagen-Dazs will serve free ice cream, and Gimbal's Fine Candies will provide free samples of their popular candy.
Joining Wells Fargo as the main sponsor of the grand opening celebration is Annie's Homegrown, maker of Honey Bunny Grahams.
Check out the website for more information. You can download the PDF of the design plan, which includes the concept, plant list and layout.
More information? Contact Chris Akins, coordinator of the grand opening celebration at (530) 752-2120 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bee and Catmint