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Friday, November 22, 2013

Two Months Before the Desk

The best month of the year has passed by and then some without a word from me here.  It was a glorious October, by the way, full of golden sunlight and tagetes.  Stuck here locked in blogger's block--No!--I've been working on other things but my thoughts and feet always wander back to the bugs and plants.

Stapelia blooms in late autumn and did again this October.  I caught a nice group of green bottle flies   on this fully open blossom.  Bugguide uses the name Lucilia sericata for this species, while "Phaenicia sericata" rolls off the tongue of Hodgkins on Bones ("phaenicia sericata.  early stage of colonization. no eggs or maggots present. Oh look! one of them is dead") with charming regularity.  Not sure which is most correct or if there is a difference.  Nevertheless, yes there IS a dead one there on the flower.

Stapelia puts out a stink very much like that of rotting flesh, attracting flies to the flowers where they can't help themselves from laying copious amounts of eggs.  The eggs hatch and the maggots are doomed.  Yay.  Natural pest control for your estate, just position the plants far from outdoor eating areas.

The flower buds are pretty in a pinkish bloated sort of way, and the open flowers are covered with fine hairs which enhance the visual similarity to rotting moldy flesh.  The flies of course are the pollinators for this plant (Stapelia gigantea) and its related carrion plant species, which are members of the milkweed family.

I have an interesting story about flies and milkweed, but not now.  Suffice it to say that green bottle flies also frequent milkweed to their doom.  Bwa ha ha.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear that story of flies and milkweed. Cynthia