The gardener demanding unblemished foliage in the garden is likely to be satisfied only by spraying poisons potent enough to kill every beetle (and earthworm) within a country mile (or a city block). A more disagreeable gardener might suggest artificial foliage to address complaints. There are no such high standards in this garden (Japanese beetles on Ostrich fern, below). Uppermost foliage of Oakleaf hydrangeas (below) in the dry shade of the side garden has been skeletonized by beetles or caterpillars. The culprits are nowhere to be found, but the minor damage is not worrisome. Nearby, sphinx moth larvae have completely defoliated the catalpa for a second year, though these have also moved on to the next stage of their life cycle. The foliage will grow back just in time for the tree to go dormant in October, but this hardly seems to bother it.Catalpa is practically a weed, though this one was planted and not sprouted from seed as so many are in the nearby forest. Unfortunately, in several years the catalpa has not flowered, but I hold out hope. The large leaves, when not eaten by caterpillars, are pleasant enough even if there are never flowers, though its form lacks symmetry and is unlikely to satisfy most gardeners. Most certainly, catalpa is nearly a weed, and most gardeners are happy not to have ones fifty feet tall in their gardens. Of course, it is a treasures in this garden, where asymmetry and bugs are celebrated (except the hordes of mosquitoes, which are tolerated for lack of acceptable measures to be rid of them).
Curiously, caterpillars that defoliated redbuds (above) and Golden Chain trees (below) in recent years have not reappeared this summer, though I did nothing to prevent their return. Caterpillars that chewed every leaf on one ‘Silver Cloud’ redbud, and half of another last summer were a stinging type, and I did not relish their return, having suffered through too many painful encounters. Still, I did not spray, and the trees recovered nicely.
Japanese beetles are a scattered few in this garden, perhaps because birds are so numerous, but certainly not because I’ve done anything to limit their numbers. On occasion, I will shoo them off a flower onto which they have convened, which does not seem to deter them for long, but the blooms are preserved for another few hours. Otherwise, the beetles (Japanese beetles on a Gordlinia flower, below) do little damage in this garden, and there is no long term injury. No doubt, there is damage to some foliage, and perhaps this is the cause of the damage to the hydrangeas, but it is too little to cause a bother.