Monitoring gardens and spreading the message

I’m impressed by @egordon88 's numbers from his yard. We live in the same town and although my yard is somewhat wild, with native and non-native shrubs, I’ve spent little time looking at the fauna that lives there (other than the birds and lizards and occasional mammal). Maybe if I’m ever under house arrest, I can devote efforts to documenting what else I have. ;-)

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As styx says, I have too much time on my hands! Almost 6,000 iNat observations plus a detailed spreadsheet to track the plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms in my home and garden. I want to publish an Albuquerque insect checklist (probably excluding Sandia because the habitat is so different) at some point with data from iNat, UNM, and private collectors.

People don’t realize how much diversity is here and the impact they can make with pollinator friendly plants and best practices. If I can find 350 species of butterflies and moths by myself in 3 years in one tiny area …


Is there an ecologically responsible pre-emergent weed control I can use?

Ultimately, I will mulch and add ground cover, but until I get to that, I would like to stop the weeds, if I can do it safely.

I found this article.

Corn gluten meal, apparently?

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I wonder if corn would be location specific, because here at least it would not last long. Carpenter ants seem to be fond of corn and carry it away extremely fast. (You can often see them working diligently on anything spilled outside the tortillerias here.)


A friend of mine recommended sowing lettuce, of all things. It sprouts fast, most varieties are cold-tolerant, and the plants will shade the ground. Plus, you get salad. Anything that you don’t eat can just keep growing.

I suppose that if the lettuce were allowed to set seed, you could end up with a similar problem to the one you’re currently dealing with, but an overabundance of Lactuca sativa seem easier to manage, somehow. You could leave the excess on neighbors’ doorsteps, for instance. It would make a nice change from zucchini.


Wait this is such a good idea.

I wonder if it would help me shade out the ridiculously pernicious patch of artemesia vulgaris that I’ve been dealing with

Buckwheat is a good summer cover crop for bees fyi

We do that too. Only frequently mow the areas with Bahia grass but will go around asters and St John’s Wort. Areas with other grasses get mowed less often. We’re trying to keep all the seedheads cut to try to keep it from spreading as much. We were burning an area of rich soil that was all Bahia in order to plant something else. Just a bit at a time as storms knocked down branches. But now it’s too dry here and not safe to burn.


hmmm… I suspect corn gluten is different somehow from the corn meal found around the tortillerias.

I realize now that corn gluten was a main ingredient in the commercial pre-emergent I tried a long time back. It worked pretty well, as I recall.

That sounds so weird!!! That lettuce would be a weed-free ground cover would never have occurred to me. I don’t think I want to spend that much water on this area, but it is surely an intriguing idea.

I am sorry not to have been clear. The same places that make tortillas here usually also produce the masa too. The process of separating the elements needed for masa used to make the tortillas leaves the corn gluten behind, which if it falls the Carpenter ants are happy to carry away. They would also carry masa, if that were allowed to fall, however it is kept in large clumps that are well attended.

As I said, I think it could be a location-specific recommendation. Maybe Carpenter ants in other places are not corn lovers? Or certainly other places are less Carpenter ant heavy? (We have a good amount of them here, so many that I keep even unopened envelopes of atole in a sealed plastic box so they can’t find them.)

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Despite way too much time away from home working this summer, the yard list continues to grow. 1,230 insect species with sightings like this possible first iNat record plant bug (species catalog on bugguide is more thorough) and this possibly undescribed moth (again, according to

I also learned more about the resilience of my native plants after less than 3 inches of rain through the end of July followed by more than 3 inches of rain in early August. Supplemental watering doesn’t hurt either.


Nature is so cool! Saw a new bee parasitoid today and last night a new parasitic wasp


Think I have enough sunflower moths? They are annoying on a moth sheet, always scaring the “interesting” insects. The caterpillars and adults provide plentiful food for predator and parasitoids alike.


Spreading the message: I made a yard sign that encourages others to get involved and, hopefully, explains what I’m doing out in the yard on my hands and knees with a camera. The sign is freely available for anyone to download here


Great idea! I should make one that says something like “Home to the state bird, butterfly, grass, flower, and reptile. It’s habitat, not weeds dammit!”


I love this! Right now, I’m not sure that anybody could see me in my garden (life commitments have led to a whole lot of none-too-benign neglect), but I’m going to save the image so that I can make a sign for later.


Recorded a podcast last week and it’s up on Apple:

Main website, hopefully available here soon:


I sadly live in an apartment and while I have a few windowsill plants I live on the third floor and they don’t exact attract much. That being said I have recently started a project on INat to try and document what is found in the native garden of a shul that is in my general neighborhood as they have an absolutely gorgeous native plant garden that is often swarming with different bees and wasps and next to no INat observations other then mine and I’m very excited about it and hoping to eventually share the project with more people in the area and maybe spread the word about INat to more people. How I plan on doing this I’m not sure I’m not the most social person and am not great at talking with people but I want to!

Sadly I can’t spend a whole ton of time there just due to being busy and the fact that its not my yard nor is it really feasible for me to walk there etc etc I’m hoping for the rest of the season to get an hour a week if I’m lucky.
(Edited to further answer the questions that were posed at first)