White Hats and Black Hats

by: Dale Johnson

As a child in the early 60’s, I would turn the black and white TV on and more often than not, there would be a western on. I instantly knew who the good guys were and who the bad guys were. Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, and Jared & Heath Barkley wore white hats and the bad guys all wore black hats (Nick Barkley was kind of a jerk). Nowadays things aren’t so clear. In movies you don’t know who the good guys are or who the bad guys are until the end of the show. In the garden, you may or may not be able to tell who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. For example, in the following photo, it is easy to tell who the good guys are because they are wearing white hats.

This is a horn worm that has been eating my tomatoes – a real bad guy! The white hats are eggs implanted by a parasitic wasp. The larvae from these eggs will kill this horn worm. GO! GO! GO! The Lone Ranger rides again! And there are a whole bunch of Lone Rangers!

Now, check out this guy! Is he a good guy or a bad guy?

Obviously he is a bad guy because he has spines on his back and he had been eating my raspberry plant with that mean looking mouth. Not so! He is a good guy – an assassin bug. Look what he is doing in this photo.

He is sucking the guts out of a stink bug that has been eating my raspberries. GO! GO! GO! I feel like I am watching the Roy Rogers rolling around in the dirt with a bad guy, knowing in advance who is going to win the fight. This one of the funnest parts of gardening, watching the good guys battle it out to save my garden from the bad guys and knowing who is going to win.

2 Comments on “White Hats and Black Hats

  1. Maybe the “stink bug as food” idea has potential. Consider this from the entry on “Pentatomidae” on Wikipedia: “Known as jumiles, chumiles, chinche de monte, or xotlinilli, various stink bugs are part of Mexican cuisine. Known as bọ xít in Vietnamese, stink bugs are also found in Vietnamese cuisine. They are also commonly eaten in Laos, and are regarded as delicious due to their extremely strong odor. The insects are sometimes pounded together with spices and a seasoning to prepare cheo, a paste mixed with chilies and herbs.” I have a feeling though, that stink-bug crunchies won't be best sellers at the food court at the local mall–at least not when I'm buying. 🙂

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