Finding the fun in the bad
A couple of days ago, I looked at a young aspen tree growing in my front yard and realized that it was COVERED in aphids.
Probably way beyond saving… so, obviously, I brought out the camera. Good thing I did! There was a ton of stuff going on.
The natural enemies that help control pests are attracted to heavily infested plants. And this one was no different. The adult lady beetle (Hippodamia convergens) was immediately visible chomping on aphids.
Then I found this syrphid larva also munching away on aphids. There were at least 5 of these guys on the plant when I looked. If you aren’t familiar with syrphids, just wait a week and I’ll be doing a post on them!
Once I got through looking at the natural enemies, I moved to on to examining the aphids themselves. And there was lots to see there as well! First of all, I stumbled onto an aphid shedding it’s exoskeleton.
Insects to this in order to grow. Here is a video of the aphid pulling itself out of the it’s old exoskeleton. You can see that it looks soft and delicate. It takes a little while for the new exoskeleton to harden. This is a very vulnerable stage for insects, but this one made it away just fine.
Then I started looking closing at the winged aphids, the part of the life cycle when aphids can travel more freely. This particular aphid has fairly pretty wings full of dark veins. Definitely needed a close up!
I am going to just cut the little sapling down as it’s only a foot tall and probably pretty unhealthy to have developed this type of aphid population. But I did thoroughly enjoy these little ecosystem.