Archive for November, 2009

Roger & Dragonflies

Sunday, November 1st, 2009
Roger and Dragonflies

Roger has consistently demonstrated that he can catch the uncatchable bug. Hence, the moniker the bug whisperer.

At left, Roger is holding two dragonflies that he had caught. The two had flown into the house one after the other and Roger caught them both within a minute.

I can remember trying, and completely failing, to catch such critters when I was his age. And he doesn’t just catch them inside, either!

Roger is always very gentle with such creatures and they are always returned to the wild unharmed.

Unless, of course, they are “bad bugs”. Bad bugs meet with death in any of a number of spider webs Roger keeps track of around the house. In some cases, in the web of a spider that Roger had previous caught and moved to a particular plant.

For whatever reason, when Roger catches a spider and moves it to a new home, the spider stays put. Of course, a spider thusly moved is typically rewarded with a steady stream of flies.

Dragonfly Hanging Out on Roger's Hand

Then again, the bugs — and lizards/frogs/whatever — that Roger catches will often stick around for a lot longer than they are restrained.

Of the two dragonflies, one hung out on Roger’s hand for a few minutes before flitting off to freedom.

As a fan of macro photography, Roger’s uncanny rapport with bugs is very very much appreciated!

Year of the Aphids

Sunday, November 1st, 2009
Ants & Aphids on Oleandar Blossom

This year was mostly a great growing season for our garden. We got lots of beans, squash, tomatoes, and other goodies.

However, this year was also the year of aphids.

At left is a blossom on a red oleandar that I planted a few weeks before that photo was taken.

The ants are farming the aphids. That is, they herd and protect the aphids. In return, the aphids suck the plant’s sap and the ants carry off the waste product — the aphid poop — to store away in their nest for future feasting.

Two species acting symbiotically to irritate the hell out of me.

Ants Herding Aphids on Oleander

If this were the only infestation of this kind, I would be concerned that I had chosen a location for the plant that was sub-optimal and, thus, led to weakness that made the plant susceptible to such an attack.

Black bean aphid  (Aphis fabae)

But, not in this case. This is not the only massive infestation of aphids that I have seen this year!

The community garden was also plagued with aphids. And by plagued, I mean plagued.

This is a closeup of the blossom of a long bean plant. At a distance, the vine looked black because the aphids were this thick over the entire plant.

If you look closely at that photo, there are a handful of parasitic bugs attacking the aphids. Unfortunately, nowhere near enough to quell the infestation. The only solution was to remove the plant in its entirety.

Oddly, they only attacked some of the bean plants. No idea what made one plant more attractive than the next, given that the beans were in the same soil and climbing the same trellis.