Monday, May 24, 2010

What's For Dinner? Aphids? Again?!

Soon after the ladybird beetles descended en masse to devour the bounty of aphids in the front garden, these little orange creatures crashed the party.  Curious, I snapped a photo and decided to play insect detective.   With all these beetles flitting about, I just had to think of this little snippet (quoted from Wikipedia, but related to me by my favorite naturalist Steve):

     He [JBS Haldane] is famous for the response he gave when some theologians asked him what could be inferred about the mind of the Creator from the works of His Creation: "An inordinate fondness for beetles."[7] This is in reference to there being over 350,000 known species of beetles in the world, and that this represents 40% of all known insect species (at the time of the quote, it was over half of all known insect species).

This beetle in particular seemed to be quite the good guy.  He's a Soldier Beetle, in the Cantharidae family, but I hesitate to suggest he's a Cantharis rotundicollis.  While they look like the kind of thing to put holes in roses and such, they seem to eat aphids (especially the larvae), nectar and pollen.  Welcome pollinator!  I was reminded by this little soldier after reading Lisa and Robb's recent post on ladybugs and realizing that there are many other insects that help combat those evil little sap suckers.  In fact, after a quick google, I found this page that discusses the carnage of insect predation.  Sheesh, what doesn't eat aphids?!  Just another reminder for me to let nature do its thing.  (Ok, that's not entirely true since I'm ruthless when it comes to snails and slugs, but they're not native anyway so whatever!)


  1. I've seen a number of those beetles here, nice to know who they are! I have to be careful even on the slug front here, as we do have a native species that's quite prolific, although thankfully, they do seem to stay out of the vegetable patch!

  2. Thanks (1) for the link, and (2) for confirming the identity of that beetle. We've got scads of 'em, which is good, considering our aphid situation.

    Now, what eats slugs?

  3. Hey, by the way, I can't seem to get you to appear on my list of favorite blogs on Blotanical. It says that you do not produce a reliable feed, whatever that means.

  4. Cool! Glad you liked it. All sorts of things eat slugs, ducks especially like snails so I'm assuming they'd take care of slugs, too. Birds, snakes, lizards, gophers I'm guessing? Worth a future blog post!
    As for blotanical... sigh. It's a great resource, but the interface of that site drives me totally nuts sometimes. I'll check it out- thanks for letting me know!

  5. I've considered ducks for about one nanosecond. My scrub jays are way more interested in the bees than in eating slugs, and I don't blame 'em.

    I just *hate* hand picking slugs. At least snail have handles.

  6. Handles! Adorable! I tried plopping a bunch into (cheap) beer and they just sort of dissolved, so maybe that's more palatable than the squish method.