Saturday, July 18, 2009

Aphid update

Something new: giant white lupin aphids (according to another bug gardener in Edmonton, with whom I am not personally acquainted but who obviously knows more than I do about insects and is less universal in his admiration). Anyway, they're on the lupins, and I only found them yesterday, proof of their astounding reproductive powers. I've had lupins killed by these aphids in the past, before my new philosophy of garden non-violence and laissez-faire, so they will put my principles to the test. Despite their destructive potential, are they not really beautiful?

Here's a family group. With super-macro photography, what you gain in magnification you lose in depth of field, which means not everybody is in focus. To get the most out of this image, click on it to bring it up in large and explore.

An aphid molting:

And, my goodness, an aphid giving birth (by parthenogenesis; according to my sources there won't be any males until near the end of the summer). You (probably ;-) saw it here first, people!

Around the yard, the other colonies are not doing so well. The pink aphids are gone, and the black willow aphids nearly so. The green spirea aphids are fighting what looks like a losing battle with various parasites. This is the branch I showed you on July 11.

There are far fewer of them, and of the ones you see, most are dead, empty shells sucked dry from the inside by the developing larvae of the aphid wasp Diaeretiella rapae, here seen peeping around a stalk hosting a more healthy group:

Whatever this is, it can't be good:

Another predator, contemplating its prey:

There's another one of those larvae-things near the bottom of the stalk, making it doubtful the one shown more clearly above was there by chance.

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