Just as the plants are springing back into life, so are the insects that feed on them.
A number of the tiny elm trees espaliered into the fence have numerous leaves covered by tiny sack galls. Inside each is some type of insect, although I’m not certain whether they are aphids or mites. The result is somewhat unsightly, but reportedly doesn’t do significant damage to the plant.
More concerning is the invasive spotted lanterfly, which for the first time I have spotted in nymph form. The fact that these are black rather than red indicates they are a still at an early instar; they will turn red when they molt in a few weeks, and then assume their winged adult form later in the summer. They love to suck the sap from newly growing grapevines, and I’ll need to put some effort into limiting their population so they don’t do too much damage.
Another reason I like burdock is that it supports a lot of insects. A week ago, I noticed that seemingly overnight, the undersides of the flower clusters had been swarmed by hundreds of aphids. I pulled out the hose and blasted a bunch of them off with a few quick squirts, but that only thins them out, it never gets ’em all, so I was very pleased to find a couple of ladybugs crawling around on it the next day. Although they’re cute, I know they’re fiends for aphids.
And even better, by the end of the week I was seeing ladybug larvae crawling around, clearing out the lingering aphids. A few days later, I can no longer find any aphids at all.