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The Hunters and the Hunted

December 16, 2016
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Transverse Ladybird (Coccinella transversalis), adult and larva, & aphids

Transverse Ladybird (Coccinella transversalis), adult and larva, & aphids

Spring and early summer are the time of garden shows in the valley. For those with the taste for European gardens, roses seem to be the showy flower of choice. But whilst visitors walk around admiring the blooms, right under their noses, on the millimetre scale, nature’s life and death struggles continue unabated.

Most gardeners, particularly of roses, will acknowledge aphids as one of their main garden pests. Aphids are soft bodied sap-sucking insects. Many species are plant specific in that they only feed on one type of plant. They congregate on plants in large numbers. When a particular stem or flower becomes overcrowded new aphids are born with wings so that they can move to another food source.

Lacewing

Lacewing

What can stop these ravenous hordes? There are a number of insects (and their larvae) that feed on aphids. A surreptitious peek at the underneath of the blooms during the garden shows revealed not just aphids in abundance but also their predators grazing on them. Ladybirds, ladybird larvae, lacewings and parasitic wasps were all there – nature’s balance being maintained.

Parasitic Wasp

Parasitic Wasp

In fact there were so many aphids and things feeding on them I am sure if people walked around the gardens listening, the visual feast of the flowers would have been accompanied by the audio soundtrack of quiet sucking and munching.

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