Posts Tagged: aphids
They're good soldiers, those soldier beetles.
Members of the family Cantharidae, they are beneficial insects that eat other insects, especially aphids and caterpillars--but just about any soft-bodied insect will do. If no insects are available, you'll see them dining on nectar and pollen.
We saw these soldier beetles, with their long, narrow reddish-orange bodies and brownish-gray wing covers, on our rose bushes this morning.
As aphids scooted up and down the steps and leaves, so did the soldier beetles. Three formed a "troop" in a three-gun salute.
California is fortunate to have more than 100 species of these "soldiers of fortune." They're also called leather-winged beetles or leatherwings. Check out their long, threadlike antennae.
If you see soldier beetles in your garden, savor them. They're the good guys.
Please pass the aphids.
Eating an aphid
AphId in Flight
In a matter of days, the aphids discovered our newly purchased rose bushes.
They clustered around the buds and unfolding leaves, piercing the tender stems and sucking the plant juices as if there were no tomorrow.
For some of them, there would be no tomorrow.
A ladybug arrived and began feasting on the colony of aphids, like a 10-year-old kid with a bag of french fries from a fast food place.
She gobbled the aphids and then, satiated, off she flew.
With spray from a garden hose, we knocked the aphids off.
Something tells me the aphids will be back.
But so will the ladybugs.
Aphids on Rose Bush
Not a Rosy Situation
Feast for One
She looked like a ballerina, with her long, thin antennae; slender, delicate body; and translucent, finely veined wings.
She dropped down on a stem in a UC Davis flower bed. Her eyes glowed a metallic gold. Perhaps she was about to feed on pollen, honeydew or an aphid. Maybe she was just investigating a site to lay her eggs.
Whatever, she graced a plant for only a moment and then was gone.
Lacewings lay their eggs on plant stems so that the emerging larvae can devour aphids, mites, thrips, soft scales and other soft-bodied prey. Dinner's ready! In fact, lacewing larvae eat so many aphids they’re called “aphid lions.” They also eat each other.
The green lacewing (Chrysopa spp.) is both a beauty and a beast. As an adult, it’s a thing of beauty. In the larva stage, it acts like a beast, complete with fierce-looking sicklelike mandibles. It's a beneficial beast, though. Gardeners welcome its voracious appetite and cheer when they see macro images of a lacewing larva lunging forward, impaling an aphid, and then sucking the juices.
Take that, you aphid!/h4>/h4>/o:p>/h4>/o:p>/h4>/o:p>/h4>/o:p>/h4>
Plain as day. And they’re not going away.
The estimated ratio of insects to humans is 200 million to one, say Iowa State University entomologists Larry Pedigo and Marlin Rice in their newly published (sixth edition) textbook, Entomology and Pest Management. Rice is the 2009 president of the Entomological Society of America.
Rice is the 2009 president of the Entomological Society of America.
There's an average of 400 million insects per acre of land, they say.
“The fact is, today’s human population is adrift in a sea of insects,” they write in their introduction.
Well, what about biomass? Surely we outweigh these critters?
No, we don't. The
There you go. The insects are the land owners; we are the tenants. “They are the chief consumers of plants; they are the major predators of plant eaters; they play a major role in decay of organic matter; and they serve as food for other kinds of animals,” Pedigo and Rice write.
Insects represent the good, the bad and the ugly.
Insects represent the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good: they give us honey and pollinate our crops. They spin our silk. They serve as natural enemies of pests. They provide food for wildlife (not to mention food for some of us humans). They are scavengers. They provide us with ideas for our art work. They are fodder for our horror movies.
And what scientist hasn't benefitted from the inheritance studies of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogasta? What ecologist hasn't studied water pollution by examining the mayfly population? Mayflies are the counterpart of canaries in the coal mine.
The bad: they eat our food crops, forests and ornamental plants. They devour or spoil our stored grain. They chew holes in our clothing. They pester us. They annoy our animals, too.
The ugly: They can—and do—kill us. Think mosquitoes. Think malaria,
But wait, there's more! Many more. Scientists have described more than 900,000 species of insects but there could be seven times as many out there, the authors point out.
Ironically, despite the huge numbers of insects, many people don't know the meaning of the word, entomology, the science of insects. They should. Insects outnumber us and always will. They've lived on the earth longer than us (400 million years) and adapt to changes better than we do. Most are tiny. Most can fly. And most reproduce like there's no tomorrow.
"Based solely on numbers and biomass, insects are the most successful animals on earth," the authors claim.
You can't argue with that.
Call them plant lice. Call them plant suckers. Call them aphids.
The tiny, soft-bodied insects with pear-shaped bodies form denses colonies on plants.
They suck. Literally.
Their destructive feeding habits do not endear them to gardeners and farmers. No love lost. No lost love.
California has more than 450 species of aphids, according to the book, Caliifornia Insects, written by Jerry A. Powell and Charles L. Hogue.
I spotted these aphids on a friend's gaura (Gaura linheimeri). She called the guara a "desert rose."
Not everything was coming up roses.
For the aphids, this "desert" rose was an an oasis.
Aphids on Gaura