Look at them, trying to fool me into thinking they are innocent bird droppings! I'm on to them now, so there's no point in them burying their heads in their bellies and acting innocent. These are some greedy, greedy bugs.
Periodically this summer I noticed chewed leaves on my silky dogwood shrubs, but I wasn't really worried about it because one of the perks of having native landscaping his having lots of insects to enjoy, and native plants are tough, and I have a lot. But yesterday, as I stopped to admire the dogwood fruits, which are a pretty dark blue, I really looked at the shrubs and realized that I don't just have just a few chewed up leaves anymore, I have a full on invasion! Something is eating them, and it's eating them down to the stems!
It didn't take much sleuthing to identify the problem. Can you see the white caterpillar with yellow legs munching a leaf, and the bits of white debris hanging from the leaves? I have dogwood sawflies, probably Macremphytus tarsatus, if my hasty internet bug identification skills are in working order.
I think all these little white cases hanging on the stems and leaves are the shed skins as they pupate. So not only are these greedy bugs, they are messy bugs too, and leave their old clothes laying around. Dogwood sawflies are native to this area, which doesn't really make me feel any better about the destruction of my dogwoods. And the adults aren't even pretty butterflies, but instead look like a small brown wasp with white tips on the antenna. At least they don't sting.
The frilly looking row of shrubs along the fence behind Mrs. Hall is all silky dogwood. They aren't supposed to be frilly, and normally they are a dense green wall that blocks all light from my blackberry plants in the evenings. And just think, I was just complaining about the poor performance of the blackberries and blaming the shade. Now I have junk blackberries, and the sawflies are eating my shade!
Helen and Mrs. Hall commiserated with me as I examined the extent of the damage. We went to the back fence, behind the tangle of garden to see how the little shrub that volunteered all on it's own, from the buried dogwood stems I used in the garden, was doing. All that's left is a stick with few branches! Mrs. Hall was very upset, but Helen was just plain mad. They tried to tell me that it may be time to do something to fight back. I'm taking this advise into consideration.