Thursday, October 8, 2015

Aphid Uprising and Other Updates

These little guys are just covering the stem of this milkweed plant... Aphids are considered to be a pest.  (Look them up on the internet, and the vast majority of the search results will be about aphid control or how to get rid of them).  They can be extremely destructive to plants.  But they're SO COOL!*  I mean, they're so tiny but they come in such bright colors -- in addition to this beautiful orange shade, I've seen them in red and yellow and greenish.  They're fascinating to watch, the way they wiggle and their black legs move even as they're attached to their host plant.  If you get a chance, observe them through a hand lens...

Aphids basically puncture the plant and tap into the phloem, which provides their food source.  They don't need to move, and their sugary drink basically just flows into them.  (Like every couch potato's dream...)  I think it's obvious why this would be harmful to the plant, if you look at the sheer quantity in the photo, but they can also spread diseases to plants when they attach on. 

Notice in the left of the picture there are some ants.  Ants often protect aphids; they benefit from the relationship because they eat the sap the aphids release.  (Don't actually know if that's occurring here, but it does happen!)  Ladybugs, on the other hand, are one of those beneficial insects known for eating aphids.  They're a great natural method of control!

*I will note that I have never found aphids in my yard, and may not think they're as cool if I did... 

Fall is a seedy time of year... 
Blazing star seeds were literally blowing off as I stood watching.  I tried to actually snap a photo with the flying seeds in it, but timing was hard.  Maybe that is one on the very left, in the middle there... 
Onion seeds are falling out, and the least bit of rustling causes some to fall. 
It's also the time of year when people start to celebrate bugs -- they may be the last ones! -- instead of fearing or being annoyed by them. 
For a while we were seeing multiple monarchs every day, but I haven't seen one at all for a while... until this one!
Just a really awesome grasshopper guy!

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