Posts Tagged: rock purslane
Gotta love those soldier beetles.
They're among the good guys in the garden because they eat aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
We've seen them on the lavender, on our nectarine tree and on our plum tree. Last weekend, a single soldier beetle (family Cantharidae) winged its way to our patch of rock purslane (Calandrina grandiflora).
It dropped down and sat on the bud of a rock purslane, looking for all the world like a frog on a lily pad or a toad on a toadstool or a king on his throne.
Or, maybe this soldier beetle was really a general surveying his troops.
Soldier beetle (famiy Cantharidae) perched on rock purslane bud. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Hi, there! Soldier beetle looks around. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Aren't syrphid flies grand?
Syrphid flies, aka hover flies or flower flies (family Syrphidae), are especially grand in a Calandrinia grandiflora, aka rock purslane.
Often mistaken for honey bees, these insects hover over flowers, wings spinning like helicopters, and then dart inside a blossom to feed on pollen and nectar.
We spotted a brightly colored syrphid on a rock purslane in our garden last Sunday. It appeared in no hurry to leave its host.
Is it true that this colorful fly is in the same order (Diptera) as the common housefly? It is.
Hover flies are found everywhere in the world except Antarctica. For a look at some of the species, check out BugGuide.Net. The site contributors are self-described naturalists "who enjoy learning about and sharing our observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures."
Another great source is entomologist Robert Bugg's 25-page booklet, "Flower Flies (Syrphidae) and Other Biological Control Agents for Aphids in Vegetable Crops," published in May 2008 by the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). You can download it for free by accessing this page.
A light rainstorm strikes the garden, pummeling and shredding some of the blossoms.
As the rain lets up, a honey bee buzzes into a rock purslane blossom for a sweet shot of nectar.
She is not alone.
If you look closely, you'll see three green aphids on an unopened blossom next to her.
There are, entomologists say, about 450 different species of aphids in California.
One specie found the rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora).
Score: Beneficial insect: 1. Destructive pests, 3.
Aphids and Honey Bee
When a sweat bee and a honey bee share the same flower, the size difference is quite distinct.
We took this photo of a honey bee on a rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora) blossom.
Above it stood a tiny female sweat bee (probably Halictus tripartitus, according to native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis).
Two bees. Two sizes. One blossom. One native. One non-native. The sweat bee is a native, and the honey bee was brought over here in the 1600s by the European colonists.
Speaking of honey bees, this is the first day to participate in TwitCause. The Häagen-Dazs brand is donating $1 per Tweet (up to $500 per day) today through Nov. 11 to support honey bee research at UC Davis.
Häagen-Dazs joined forces with ExperienceProject.com (EP), a San Francisco-based online community for sharing life experiences.
Like to support honey bee research at UC Davis? Go to www.twitcause.com. Directions on top of the page detail how to follow, retweet, and help the honey bee cause on Twitter.
Caught between a rock and a...soft place...
You'll often see tiny sweat bees nectaring rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora) in urban gardens. This plant, a native of Chile, brightens landscapes with its pinkish magenta blossoms.You probably wouldn't wear this color if you were in the federal witness protection program. It shouts "Look at me!"
The old saying that "it's so loud it could stop traffic" applies here.
It certainly stops insect traffic. (The lure, though, is the pollen, not the color.)
Last week we watched a tiny female sweat bee (Halictus tripartitus) nectaring the rock purslane.
Then she crawled to the lip of the flower, peered at her surroundings, and took flight.
Ready to Fly