Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wild Insects

WE'VE come across some interesting insect life in our back garden: first, a little bug that looks somewhat like a ladybird in size and shape, only it's brown and squared off at its tail end. This turns out to be a bean plataspid or kudzu beetle, a new arrival to Georgia that feeds on kudzu. Plenty of that around - not in our garden but close by. The beetles sit mostly in our vegetable patch - particularly the sweet peppers - and huddle in twos or more. They're apparently quite a threat to agriculture, but they don't seem to have wreaked too much havoc on our little garden so we've let them be.

The next discovery I first thought was a fungus - threads handing from a dead pine needle suspended in a tree. But after much research, this turns out to be lacewing eggs. They are laid on hair like filaments, said to prevent the larvae from cannabalizing each other. The larvae are so voracious that they have been considered for biological insect control. Curious!

The final, less pleasant, find was a nest of thousands of little black flies. I have yet to identify them, but they looked like fruit flies and swarmed all around us at dusk. The nest was around the base of a tree and was a seething mass of emerging tiny flies. Creepy and crawly, to be sure!

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