Insects & Spiders

Emerald Ash Borer will Ruin our Urban Forest

The Emerald Ash Borer, first discovered in Boulder in 2013, is considered the most destructive pest in North America.

Emerald Ash Borer size
The future looks bleak for ash trees in the South Platte drainage area of Colorado.

The tiny Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is such a destructive insect pest that it will most likely ruin the urban forest as it destroys unprotected ash trees in our area.

EAB has caused the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in 20 states. Now it’s in Colorado.

First discovered in Boulder in 2013, EAB most likely found its way to Colorado from the Midwest in a load of firewood. So far, Colorado is the farthest state west where the EAB has traveled, according to Dr. Whitney Cranshaw of Colorado State University.

“It’s a real tragedy because it will ruin an urban forest species in an extinction event,” he says.

Time to Celebrate Pollinator Week

Happy Pollinator Week to gardeners everywhere!

When you’re in the garden this week, be sure to thank a bee. That’s what Pollinator Week is all about.

The third week in June is designated as National Pollinator Week and there are celebrations planned from coast to coast to raise awareness of the valuable contribution provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and beetles.

Pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food that we eat.

In the U.S. bees alone undertake the astounding task of pollinating over $15 billion in added crop value, particularly for specialty crops such as almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables.

In northern Colorado, the Colorado State Beekeepers Association, Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association, Boulder County Beekeepers Association and BBB Seed Company are partnering with 16 nurseries, garden centers, and stores for a special event on Saturday, June 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

A Growing Garden of Words

It’s been another busy gardening and writing season around here. Because my vegetable garden is finally planted, it’s time for a breather. I thought it might be fun to look back at some of my favorite subjects I’ve written about this season.

On the Lowe’s Creative Ideas website, I’ve been blogging about all kinds of gardening projects for Mountain Region gardeners. One of the recent posts, planting an herb garden in a strawberry pot, was also featured in the June issue of the Corona Tools newsletter.

Of course, this is the time of year when my writing for is at the peak of the season.

Two recent posts, planting golden beets and growing Pak Choi in a container, show how easy it is to grow vegetables in small spaces.

A Victory for Bees in Thornton

Thornton, Colo., is all a-buzz because the city council just passed an ordinance allowing backyard beekeeping in the city limits.

We heart our honeybees!

That’s the sentiment of Thornton residents interested in keeping backyard bee hives.

A group called Thornton Loves Bees worked hard to convince the city council to adopt a backyard beekeeping ordinance.

Dan Finerty sent an email in January asking for help in the effort to get a responsible beekeeping ordinance passed by contacting members of the city council.

I was happy to send messages to all the council members, thanking those who supported the ordinance and asking the other council members to reconsider their opposition.

Beth Humenik, council member for Ward 3, replied to my message. She had a list of questions about beekeeping that included how many hives are allowed in Denver, what kind of restrictions are in place, timing of bee swarms, amount of honey produced, concerns about super honeybees, and educating neighbors about sprays and pesticides that are harmful to bees.

Pleeze Count Your Bees

Spending 15 minutes in your garden counting bees is a pleasant way to pass the time while helping with bee conservation efforts.

I’ve been counting the bees that land on the ‘Lemon Queen’ sunflowers in my garden and I’m delighted at the results.

During my latest 15-minute observation, I counted 12 honeybees landing on one large flower–almost one bee every minute.  Many others buzzed around me as I sat quietly counting.

If you haven’t counted your bees yet, there’s still time this summer. Just set aside a little time during the day when the bees are active and pull up a tree stump.

All you need is a watch, paper and pencil. Once you’re done counting, be sure to report your results on

While you’re counting, think about the thousands of other gardeners across the country who are involved in this citizen science project to help bees.

The data that’s gathered every year helps researchers with their bee conservation efforts.

Sphinx Hummingbird Moth Dazzles at Night

The other evening I caught a glimpse of a sphinx moth darting from petunia to petunia in the patio garden.

John grabbed his camera and captured this wonderful shot of a white-lined sphinx moth enjoying some of the Wave petunias Ball Horticultural Company sent me earlier this season to trial in my garden.

I like the Wave Purple  Improved Spreading petunia and Petunia Shock Wave Coral Crush in a hanging basket as much as this sphinx moth does.

The white-lined sphinx moth is common to the Western part of the US. It’s a large moth that resembles a hummingbird during flight or while hovering above flowers in the garden. The moth’s wings beat so quickly it’s hard to tell what they really look like while they’re moving.

But this image shows the colorful pink, brown, and white patterns on its wings as it enjoys a midnight snack.

You Need to Be at Today’s Bee-a-thon

Bee part of the first-ever online town hall event dedicated to celebrating the  most underappreciated helpers in our gardens: bees.

The 2011 Bee-a-thon, hosted by Your Garden Show, is the kick-off to today’s Great Bee Count.

Stop by the Bee-a-thon between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Pacific time for the first-ever online webcast discussing how to protect our most valuable pollinators.

Throughout the day experts will discuss bee biology, changes in global bee populations, and what you can do to help. You can listen in throughout the day and ask questions in real time.

All of this buzz is in support of The Great Sunflower Project, a citizen science campaign that encourages gardeners to plant sunflowers, count the number of bees visiting them, and report the data online.

I’ve written about The Great Sunflower  Project many times over the last several years and was one of about 50,000 gardeners actively participating last year. My sunflowers are slow to bloom this year, but as soon as they do I’ll bee starting my observations.

Silver Fountain Butterfly Bush Doing its Job

The Silver Fountain Butterfly Bush is now loaded with purple blooms and I’m not the only one to notice.

Lemon Queen Sunflower Gardening for Bees

It’s time to plant your sunflower seeds and join the Great Sunflower Project for 2011.

The Great Sunflower Project is underway! Plant Lemon Queen Sunflowers this weekend and then mark your calendar for July 16. That’s the day of the Great Bee Count of 2011.

The Great Sunflower Project is my favorite citizen science effort. Every summer gardeners across the country plant sunflowers in their gardens, count the bees that land on them, and report the results.

Even though it’s best to observe and report weekly, the Great Bee Count is the day set aside for a nation-wide count.

Bees are in trouble and they need our help. By growing sunflowers and counting bees, we can learn more about our important pollinators. More information leads to more action to help preserve and enhance pollinator habitat.

Wicked Gardening Fun with Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart’s talk at the Denver Botanic Gardens tomorrow night promises to be wicked good fun.

I’m looking forward to seeing Amy again tomorrow night at the DBG when she gives her talk called “Wicked Plants: The Deliciously Dark Side of the Plant World.”

I met Amy at a Garden Writers Association Symposium a couple of years ago right after her book called “Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities” hit the bestseller list.

This year, Amy has followed up her “Wicked Plants” book with a sequel called “Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army and Other Diabolical Insects.”

Amy’s been on the road promoting her new book and I can’t wait to hear what she has to say. She’s got some interesting perspectives on the world of horticulture that she also shares with other gardening types on the entertaining GardenRant blog.

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