Skip to content

I won’t tell if you don’t

March 6, 2017
tags:
by

1-dscn3233Last week I was handed a large leaf of silverbeet. This is not so strange in a town where bartering back yard produce is the norm. However on the underside of the leaf was a striking group of insect eggs (picture left). The obvious question asked was What are they? and the predictable response from me was I don’t know.  I have a pretty good track record of identifying adult insects (Mr Google et al. help a lot). But I am less than successful with the identification of eggs, where the keywords are pretty and orange.

b432-20170212_190747
 
So I devised a devious plan. I would photograph the eggs under a microscope, hatch the caterpillars, feed them until they pupated and wait for the adults to emerge and then identify them – just like I used to do when I was a kid. The devious plan however, failed. The eggs hatched before my plan could (hatch that is). And what emerged were not caterpillars but larvae of an insect from the order Hemiptera (pictured right).

Hemipteran insects have sucking mouthparts which they use to extract the sap from leaves. They usually grow by ‘moulting’ through a series of larval states known as instars until they finally emerge as the adult. The trouble with my devious plan was that, whereas caterpillars can be fed leaves cut from the plant, I suspect these instars needed to feed on live leaves to get the sap.

b447-20170212_191629This resulted in devious plan #2. To ensure the young insects got a good food supply I had to find a nearby source of spinach – my wife’s prized vegetable garden. Under the cover of nightfall I carefully deposited the wilted spinach leaf and all the young into the middle of a healthy spinach plant in the aforementioned garden. After all how much sap could they suck? I have since checked the spinach and there is no evidence of the deed. I am hoping the young insects have found their way in life.

I won’t tell if you don’t.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: