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Friday, May 16, 2008

TGIL: alcea rosea

I've never grown hollyhocks; possibly I have a morbid fear of the rust (puccinia malvacearum) that ravages the foliage of most of the hollyhocks I've seen growing. But this spring I decided to try some; why the hell not? They are now about as tall as me with lots of buds and a few fat ones starting to show color; the big roughly textured leaves have been attracting and sustaining bugs for awhile. I suspect either earwigs (they are hungrier than you'd think) or very tiny illusive grasshoppers are responsible for the chewed up lower leaves; I never see 'em in the act. The mating flies are likely to be cluster flies, pollenia, which if they are will lay their eggs in soil so their maggot offspring can conveniently parasitise earthworms. I haven't seen a parasitised earthworm which gives me something to look forward to. The curled leaf looks to be a spider lair, but no one was home at the time. The leaf mine was produced by some species of leaf miner (duh!) which has emerged as an adult . And, there's been no sign of rust.

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