Posts Tagged ‘insect’

Friday, November 25, 2011

Splitting at the Seams

Plating Quince Bark

Now that this veteran quince has regained vigor and the branches have grown thicker, the bark is splitting under the pressure of the increased diameter. The plates formed by the exfoliating bark add to the beauty and ornamental value of the tree.

The beloved and beautiful quartet of quince (Cydonia oblonga) trees at the center of Bonnefont garden, an iconic image of The Cloisters worldwide, was showing its age when I first came to The Cloisters as consulting arborist in 2007. The trees were nutritionally deprived, had suffered from both summer and winter drought, and were subject to several fungal diseases, as well as insect infestations, especially apple maggot. Read more »

Monday, October 5, 2009

Praying Mantis

Nuala and MantisMantis in Cuxa Garden

Above, left: Volunteer gardener Nuala Outes befriending a mantis in Bonnefont Garden last summer; right: one of three adult mantises seen recently on the asters now blooming in Cuxa garden.

The European praying mantis is so named because of the manner in which it raises and extends its grasping forelegs before seizing its prey, suggesting an attitude of prayer. This omnivorous species was not among the beneficial insects released in the gardens this summer as part of our biological pest control program, although several mantises already inhabited Trie and Bonnefont gardens. However, the mantis population does seem to be on the rise, and no less than three of the insect predators were recently spied in Cuxa garden on a windy day, clinging to a single planting of ‘Hella Lacy,’ a cultivated form of the native New York aster now blooming along the roadsides.

The sexual cannibalism for which the mantis is notorious seems to be more common in captivity; it is less frequently and readily observed by entomologists in the field and is the subject of scholarly debate. Autumn is the mating season for praying mantises in our climate, although we haven’t observed any unions. The compound eyes and binocular vision over a wide field—characteristic of mantises—make them at least as aware of us as we are of them, and they clearly register their consciousness of our presence when we encounter them in the gardens.

—Deirdre Larkin