Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Nature Mystery Solved 09/04/13

What do you suppose these are?

I came across them in the garden.  Look closer...

At first I thought they were empty egg casings of some bug that hatched out. But, they have legs, which I thought may mean it was a molt of some sort, but that perfectly round hole... a molt wouldn't look like that.

Tonight as I was reading about oleander aphids, I came across a page that described a parasitic wasp and there they were in the picture! The very same empty carcasses - aphid carcasses. Mystery solved :) It reminds me of gall wasps, but one parasitic to a living creature instead. Total sci-fi material - remember Aliens? 

Isn't it fascinating that unbeknownst to most everyone that passes by this garden, there are aphids, that live symbiotically with ants that tend and milk them for their honeydew, that are also being implanted by parasitic wasps whose offspring eat them from the inside out while they die!? What drama right here in this tiny little world we pass by unknowingly.

What else are we passing by?

Here is a picture from the bottom of a non-native milkweed plant, the kind the Monarch loves. There are the beautiful yellow Oleander Aphids. They seem thinner than the plump round carcasses above. The wasp larva must fill it out. The lady bug grub is after the little one :( And look, one of them has white, not black, legs. I wonder why? Albino?

I read that entymologists call lady bugs "lady beetles" because they aren't true bugs. And they used to be called lady birds in England. They were supposedly named after Mary, who used to be portrayed wearing a red cloak in early paintings. 

What's happening in your garden?


  1. That is seriously Naomi-ishly cool.

    We call them ladybirds too!

  2. Interesting... Creepy, but interesting ;)