Growing the Desert Garden

Welcome to the Desert Garden, with garden coach Tyler Storey, where we talk about everything having to do with gardening and landscaping in the Desert Southwest. From composting to Cercidium and agaves to arugula — we'll cover everything you want to know to grow your own beautiful Desert Garden.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Back at the Ranch: Bug Week, Day 1

Ladybug nymph lunching on aphid © Tyler Storey

Kind of like "Shark Week" but on a much smaller scale.

The Desert Garden is at all times literally crawling with insects of all shapes and sizes, but this week in particular has revealed some fascinating specimens, many of which were kind enough to pose for the camera. I'll share a few of them over the next few days.

Today's bug is one of the most beneficial of garden insects, a Ladybug nymph. I came across it as it was eating lunch on an artichoke leaf. If you look carefully at the photo (click for an enlargement), you will see the black and orange-spotted nymph using its forelegs to hold a brown oval thing. That brown oval thing is a rather fat and juicy aphid; the thread-like bits extending to the top and to the left are the aphid's antennae and legs, respectively. The Ladybug nymph is — and there's no way to put this delicately — slurping out the insides of the aphid.

It's worth learning to recognize what a Ladybug nymph looks like; they are champion aphid-eaters and we don't want to destroy them inadvertently. In real life, they're only about a quarter of an inch long at most, fairly fearsome to behold — a bit like a miniature Gila Monster — but completely harmless to people, small children, and pets. Unless you have a pet aphid.


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