Observing Nature . . .

— Written By

There are always exciting things happening in nature. It does not matter if you look way off in a remote area or look in your own backyard. There is always something interesting that’s happening. It just takes being observant. This week I’d like to share what you might see in your backyard.

Small mounds of soil are a give away that solitary bees are active in your lawn. There are many common species of solitary bees that nest in individual holes in the ground. They are all good pollinators. These bees range in size from 1/2 to 3/4 inches and may be a variety of colors such as blue, green, copper or metallic reddish-brown. They belong to one of several groups of bees such as the membrane bees, digger bees, sweat bees, mason bees and leafcutter bees (Colletidae, Halictidae, Andrenidae, Anthophoridae, Megachilidae). During the evening hours, females excavate nesting burrows that reach six inches in depth. Some of these bees line the burrow with a water-proofing secretion for protection
from moisture.

When there are lots of bees, they create a “citylike” aggregation. Each hole belongs to an individual female. Solitary, ground nesting bees play a vital role in ecological systems, especially in pollination of crops and wild plants. Solitary bees are valuable pollinators and should not be destroyed unless there is some compelling reason.

If the bees do cause concern, try flooding them out. They do not like wet conditions, and a sprinkler will help them decide to move. However, if they are not causing a problem for you, I’d suggest just leaving them.

This week’s rain and warmer temperatures are perfect for triggering termite swarms. Termite swarms that occur outdoors are fun to watch. It looks almost like smoke. The swarmers are winged adults searching for a new home. When the swarming happens outside there is no need to be concerned because these insects are just part of a healthy ecosystem. They break down wood waste and  return nutrients back to the soil.

However, if termites swarm inside your house, action should be taken within a few weeks. Bear in mind, that even if you find swarmers, you don’t need to rush a decision. Call a few companies and get estimates. Depending on the size and nature of your home’s construction, termite treatments can cost $500 or exceed $2000. Take the time to make an informed well-founded decision about the type of
treatment and warranty being offered.

The two ways to tell the difference between flying ants and swarming termites is equal wing length and absence of a waist. Termites have four wings all of equal length. They also do not have a waist, where as ants have three distinct body segments.

More information about wood destroying insects and information about selecting a pest control company is available at https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/wood.htm

Being observant is fun. If bugs are not your thing, then enjoy the flowers. This time of year most lawns have a wonderful array of winter blooming annuals. Most people don’t give them a second look and just call them weeds, but it you look closely you will see beautiful flowers.

Next time you are in your backyard, take a look and I bet you will find something interesting to watch.

Written By

Photo of Seth NagySeth NagyCounty Extension Director (828) 757-1290 seth_nagy@ncsu.eduCaldwell County, North Carolina
Updated on Apr 24, 2013
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