Monday, June 18, 2012

There is Nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so

caterpillar06 Most of us have heard the quotation above. It is a quote from Hamlet by William Shakespeare: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Shakespeare also penned the line “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” which is proceeded by the line “’Tis but thy name that is my enemy.”

As a gardener, those lines often come to mind when I think of both weeds and bugs.

Weeds, native flowers, wildflowers, flowers. Whether they are welcome or unwelcome is really up to us and how we choose to think of them.

The same, is certainly true of visiting garden critters. Good bug, bad bug, beneficial insect.

For the past week, I’ve been watching an “army” of caterpillars dining on the dill and fennel plants in our garden. Now, “army” wouldn’t be my choice of words to describe caterpillars, but it seems to be the preferred word to use when describing a collection of these crawling critters.

And although  some people would see chomping caterpillars as “bad” bugs, quickly decimating the dill and fennel plants, I love watching the whole process of egg to caterpillar to butterfly and was delighted to go out every morning and watch their progress.

But what started out as an “army” of at least two dozen tiny swallowtail caterpillars soon turned into ten, then seven and now its down to two.

What conquered my “army” of caterpillars? A wasp. The kind of wasp that many people see as a beneficial insect just because they DO dine on caterpillars. So in my garden, this good guy (wasp) has definitely turned into the bad guy.

The irony of the whole thing is, there was a time when I introduced those wasps into my yard.  I'm always trying to find alternatives to using toxic chemicals in my landscape because I know that they can pollute the environment. So to test the effectiveness of purchased beneficial insects I ordered ladybugs, green lacewing larvae and caterpillar-eating wasps. Of course, I was thinking more about getting rid of the caterpillars that I DON'T like, rather than the ones that I do, but I haven't quite figured out a way to train the wasps yet.

I know that neither the caterpillar nor the wasp is bad (or good, for that matter). They are both just doing what they need to do to survive. The Circle of Life, as my husband said.

But the defeat of my beautiful little army by one solitary wasp was a good reminder about gardens and gardening: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Related posts: Don’t Let the Bugs Bug You
Changing Your Relationship With Weeds

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