Spotting insects in the gardens

Published 9:00 am Sunday, September 7, 2014

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

This morning after watering the gardens it was such a beautiful day that I decided to take my time walking around the gardens and really study what was going on in them.  As I approached the rudbeckia, I noticed they were covered with a yellow insect, and as I looked around there must have been hundreds of them. Now, I am the first to admit that when it comes to identifying insects, I am lost. My Peterson Field Guide has lots of photos but most of them are black and white which doesn’t help much with the identification. Several years ago I read an article that told about these insects and it had a colored photo so that I could identify that yes, indeed this was the bug on my rudbeckia. Unfortunately I didn’t save the article so I don’t remember the name of it.

A monarch butterfly sips nectar from a pink zinnia in one of Lang’s gardens. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

A monarch butterfly sips nectar from a pink zinnia in one of Lang’s gardens. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

As I continued my walk and carefully inspected each plant, I noticed just how many different kinds of insects were in the gardens today. A lovely little damselfly, a civil bluet, landed on the leaf of a zinnia so daintily. The next thing I spotted was a monarch butterfly down the row of zinnias sipping nectar. As my eyes moved to the section where verbena bonariensis grow, I noticed a cabbage white butterfly. It wasn’t long, and a hummingbird was darting up and down the mandevilla growing on the Victorian gazebo. Was this ever a great day for watching all of the activity going on in the gardens.

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Many different kinds of bees were on the Joe-pye weed and also what I call fly bees because they look like a cross between a fly and a bee. Where is Al Batt when I need to know what all of these things are? A sphinx moth was enjoying the tall garden phlox and you have to look closely or you will think it is a hummingbird as they both fly fast, up and down and hover.

Every flower that I approached had something on it and as I watched in awe, my mind was wandering back to the place where it often goes and that is to God and all that he has created. It boggles my mind when you look at just my garden and the amount of activity that is there and the different species with colors and markings. I wonder how on earth he had time to create all of this.

I wish I could invite all of you over to just sit in the gardens for a couple of hours on a late summer day when the sun is shining and enjoy all of this with me. Birds, bees, butterflies and insects abound in every nook and cranny and if that isn’t enough, there are, of course, all of the different flowers that are blooming in the gardens.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

A quote by Rachel Carson put it so well, “Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” When I get the time to just really spend a few minutes looking around the gardens this quote must have been written just for me. I never weary of spending time with nature.

How many people walk by their gardens yet never really see what is in them? Probably most of us as our lives are so hectic anymore. Have you taken 10 minutes to just sit among the flowers and see all of the insects, birds, bees and butterflies around you?  Take the 10-minute challenge and bring a camera and notepad and record what you see. You don’t have to identify them correctly, unless of course you want to, but list a butterfly, small bird or bee on your pad. Move to another location and do the same thing and it might surprise you what is there.

“I never had any other desire so strong, and so like covetousness, as that…I might be master at last of a small house and a large garden, with very moderate conveniences joined to them, and there dedicate the remainder of my life to the culture of them and the study of nature.” — Abraham Cowley


Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears weekly. Email her at