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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Aphids, a New Beginning

The aphis nerii have landed and have proceeded to procreate on the tender tips of the milkweed plants.  Here is a tiny node of them just beginning, the mother and her live-born offspring sucking milkweed sap.  These aphids are able to process milkweed toxins and use them as a defense against predators.  Ladybugs and lacewings do feed on these aphids, but the toxins stored in the aphid bodies affects the development of larval predators, causing them to fail to pupate or to have deformities as the emerged adult.  But as all of these predator-prey relationships are dynamic (see previous post regarding milkweed's changing philosophy on defense) it's probable there are resistant aphid predators and also that the aphids themselves are less toxic due to the plant being less so.

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