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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2 Beings Cling to a Thin Stem

I was stepping out of the old man's pickup truck the other day, right into the thin branches of the young chilopsis linearis that are still at or below my short person's eye level.  This was a wee thing I planted a few years ago in the parkway, a dream of someday replacing the elm street tree with something wispy and floriferous. 

Anyway, right in front of my eyes, I noticed two small beings hanging on to a thin branch out there in the mid-October sunshine.

Being number one is a wax scale, genus Ceroplastes not definite on the species.  This is a female scale insect, and underneath her carapace there are likely to be red eggs.  I checked around on the chilopsis for more of them, but like almost always I only see the one.  Scale can be serious plant pests building up to terrifying numbers on plants.  But these never do on my plants and I attribute that to the feeding of birds, specifically the Bewick's wrens that are always busy foraging up and down the branches of my shrubberies, picking off and consuming tiny insects which must include the small crawlers that hatch from the scale eggs.

Being number two is a Fuller's rose beetle, Pantomorus crevinus.  Again, I only see the one individual hunkering down in this leaf axil all by her lonesome.  This species reproduces without benefit of male inputs, the females laying unfertilized eggs through the process of parthenogenesis resulting in more females, etc etc etc.  The larvae feed on plant roots, the adults feed on leaves and flowers of a variety of plants including roses.  The wing covers are fused, resulting in this beetle's flightlessness.  So she clings to the branch, maybe hoping not to fall off so as to avoid the long climb back up to the sunlight. 

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