|Mango fans crowd the Garden House.|
It happens every July: mango madness descends on South Florida, with its epicenter at Fairchild’s International Mango Festival. Steamy, rainy, sunny, then steamy again. No matter. The pure joy of tasting,
|The fun of tasting and rating.|
sniffing, holding mangos fills the garden to the brim with lovers of this exquisite fruit. And the tastes can come in many forms, as visitors sampled
mango and Key lime pie, mango smoothies, mango-orange drink, mango honey, mango breads and pastries.
For the growers, there are lessons in mango pruning, mango grafting, experts called “mango medics” to answer questions about growing mangos…and the largest collection of mangos in the world at a single event. Oh, yes, and the Curators’ Collection of mango trees including cultivars that begin fruiting in April, those that hit the mid-season and several that will reward you in August.
Don’t miss it.
|Rambutans, against mango-colored cloth.|
|Young Polydamas larvae.|
It took a couple of years, but the Polydamas Swallowtails finally have discovered my Aristolochia littoralis, calico flower. What’s more, they are now very much a part of the butterfly populations that keep the airways busy around my garden.
Aristolochia is a genus of tropical vines with pretty heart-shaped leaves. Some of the species have flowers shaped like old-fashioned Dutch pipes, and often the many species are referred to as pipevines. The pipevine swallowtail, black with blue hind wings, is named for the more northern plant that is its larval host. The polydamas swallowtail also uses a pipevine, but different species.
Aristolochia littoralisis a prolific bloomer in early summer. A pouch is light green and the hood-like fused petals are kidney and white. It likes moisture and fertilizer. I grow mine in a large container in an effort to keep some control over it. The plant is on the list of invasive exotics in South Florida. It produces seed pods that split vertically into six sections when brown and ripe. The seeds may be carried on the wind, so snip off the pods while they’re still green as another safety measure to prevent its ecape.
|Trying to pupate.|
The Polydamas Swallowtail butterflies, Battus polydamas lucayus, are born in groups, and feed communally until they begin to grow large. When ready to pupate, the caterpillars – dark brown with orange tubercles – are impressively big and fat. Chrysalids are green to yellow.
|Adult Polydamas Swallowtail.|
The adults are without tails on the hind wings, but have a broad yellow band on the upper edges of the wings and red spots on the hindwings and body. Big butterflies, Polydamas Swallowtails are sometimes up to 5 inches across and are worthy visitors to the garden.
One day last week, 50,000 bumblebees were killed in Wilsonville, Oregon. A landscaper had sprayed blooming linden trees with Safari, a product containing dinotefuran. The ingredient is a systemic insecticide classified as a neonicotinoid, a relative of nicotine that acts on the nervous system of insects.
Another June bee kill occurred in the town of Hillsboro. Bumblebees were innocently doing their pollination duty.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture immediately suspended the use of 18 products containing dinotefuran “to minimize any potential for additional incidents involving bee deaths connected to pesticide products with this active ingredient until such time as our investigation is completed and we have more information,” announced ODA director Katy Coba.
Among the products the department listed on its website are Safari 20 SG; Safari 2 G Insecticide among others. Homeowner products temporarily banned include Green Light Tree & Shrub Insect Control with Safari Ready-to-Use; Green Light 5-5-5 Tree & Shrub with Safari Insect Control + Fertilizer Concentrate; Ortho Tree & Shrub Insect Control Granules; Ortho 5-5-5 Tree & Shrub Insect Control Plus Miracle-Gro Plant Food Concentrate.
Additionally, products that were voluntarily cancelled by registrants in 2011, but still may be lurking in storage, include Venom 20 SG Insecticide; Spectracide Systemic Tree & Shrub Insect Control + Fertilizer Concentrate 10-8-8 and Spectracide Systemic Rose &Flowering Shrub Insect Control + Fertilizer Concentrate 10-8-8.
The online site Oregonlive.com (the online version of The Oregonian newspaper) reported that the state would wrap the canopies of the trees at the Wilsonville shopping center to keep away pollinating bees. The editorial board of the paper wrote: "Oregon's probe should be as robust as possible and shed light on policies governing the use of insecticides. The...events are loud signals that need to be heard and understood."