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Thursday, January 08, 2009

At Mom's House

On the iron gate of my mom's courtyard garden in Mission Viejo (15 miles SE of here) I found a brown widow (Latrodectus geometricus) web and egg sac; a dessicated cricket carcass remains from the not-so-long-ago meal of the female spider who was not around when this picture was taken. More evidence of the prevalence of this species in Orange County.

There were aphids on the early spring nasturtium leaves, and where there are aphids there probably are ladybirds. The adult on the gaura seed head is Cycloneda sanguinea, Spotless Ladybird Beetle. The larva probably is, too.

Plume moths and the damage from their caterpillars are all over the lantana; can I assume these are Lantanaphaga pusillidactyla? The Lantana plume moth was imported to Hawaii early in the 20th century as biocontrol for lantana camara, an evergreen shrub we grow as an ornamental but which became a terrible pest on the islands. Based on the tattered condition of my mom's lantana, these guys do a pretty good job of reducing the vigor of lantana plants.

A Mexican cactus fly (Copestylum mexicanum) stopped to nectar on the lantana. The next door neighbor has a great collection of cactus, maybe where the cactus fly larvae live.

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