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.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Back at the Ranch: Bug Week, Day 3

Dragonfly © Tyler Storey

All bugs are, in their own peculiar ways, interesting, but some bugs are simply amazing. This Dragonfly falls into the latter category. I spotted it the other morning as it was resting on the Minneola Tangelo tree. The picture doesn't do it justice; it was a good four inches from stem to stern, and the green portion of its body was slightly iridescent. This was a big sparkly dragonfly (click the picture for a larger view).

Dragonflies are voracious eaters of mosquitoes and flies, and thus count as top-ranked beneficial insects, even if you're not a gardener. Considering the size of this one, I can only imagine how many mosquitoes it must eat to keep going.

Notice in the picture the spattering of what looks like white-wash on the leaves below and to the right of the dragonfly's wings. That's the result of a different insect, called a sharpshooter, a piercing and sucking insect that is very fond of citrus; the white substance is dried sharpshooter exudate. If you've ever stood under or near a citrus tree and felt a tiny sprinke, as of raindrops, that's what you were feeling: Sharpshooter exudate. A gentle rain of insect poop. It won't hurt you.


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