Shi-so Big / Shiso Bug-gy

photo by Little Tess

photo by Little Tess

photo by Little Tess

photo by Little Tess

These visitors to my shiso did not seem interested in dinner, neither the leaves nor each other. I loved the beetle’s shiny green back, copper-red wings, and especially its feathery white hairs sprouting from its abdomen. Then I did a search for what kind of beetle this is: Japanese beetle—a very destructive pest which can efficiently skeletonize foliage leaving only the veins of leaves intact. I haven’t seen that on my shiso, but because it attacks over 300 plants and trees I will closely inspect the lovely linden tree which shades my patio. Wish now I’d squished it.

Notice the pinkish veins of the shiso leaf? Several years ago I grew red shiso and green shiso. Some of the volunteer plants in subsequent years seemed to have interbred to produce leaves with green tops and reddish undersides. These plants came from a nursery but perhaps that is what has caused some of the leave to have odd coloration. The other factor may be stress: it has been very hot and dry. Though we watered the pot often it may not have been enough.

photo by Little Tess

This scary guy (girl?) is a great black wasp (sphex pensylvanicus). It lives across most of North America and grows to a size of 20–35 mm (0.8–1.4 in). The larvae feed on living insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, katydids and cicadas. The females paralyze the insects, then carry them to an underground nest. She is quite beautiful with her long black body and blue-black iridescent wings. These wasps can cause very painful and swollen stings.



6 thoughts on “Shi-so Big / Shiso Bug-gy

    • Indeed. Each is stunning to look at, especially enlarged via a digital image, but I would not want to be living in the scale of their world. We are likely all close to such creatures but because we are so much larger we are not usually aware of them.

  1. Interesting that you have a Japanese beetle on your Japanese plant! And ouch that wasp looks fierce. I wouldn’t have picked it as a wasp. I have been stung by an ordinary European wasp and that was painful enough.

    • Yes, the black wasp looks fierce but the Japanese beetle (which I didn’t know was around this area) is more widely destructive. The wasp was pretty passive but the daughter’s real close-up picture was blurred because she jumped back as she pressed the shutter!

      You have heard of women in the 19th century being admired for being wasp waisted? Makes one think about how a woman’s figure is idealized. Do you think Barbie has a sting?

  2. Little Tess has a good eye and a steady hand in the face of stinging things.
    Enjoy the shiso. Interesting about the variation.
    Yes – wasp waists – imagine wearing those corsets and in the heat too. Makes me breathless to think of it.
    We never had Barbies as children. My mother was quite outspoken against stereotypes – we did have other dolls though. My sister had one with permed grey hair – we called her big lady. The most Barbie like things we had were paper dolls that could be dressed. They were either nurses or air hostesses. They must have been gifts from outside the family. We loved them but we also had Lego and something called brick city. No trucks or cars though.

    • My mom wouldn’t buy us real Barbies but someone gave us some Barbie look-a-likes. I learned to knit because mum wouldn’t let us buy clothes for them. And to crochet. And to sew. She encouraged us (me) to set up little “scenes” in the corner cupboard: it had glass doors on top to display fancy stuff, solid wood doors on the bottom to store linens, I suppose, and in between was an open triangular shelf. That’s where the Barbies played out seasonal scenes: gardening, cooking, skating, teaching school…

      My brothers had plenty of cars, trucks, trains, Lincoln logs, plastic bricks (I think I’m older than you and Legos were not yet invented), erector sets… We’d set up whole towns and villages which would cover the entire floor of the living room and stay in place for days at a time. Never mind that the Beverly Hillbillies ( ) car was far out of scale to the plastic farm animals and WWII army guys…

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