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This week let's take another look at the diverse community of insects found on the rush or desert milkweed.

Dusky Lady Beetle Larva with Aphids(Photograph by Lynne S., used with permission)

What do you see here? Probably the first things you notice are the bright orange-yellow aphids. Those are oleander aphids.

Dusky Lady Beetle Larva with Aphids on Milkweed(Photograph by Lynne S., used with permission)

But, what is the insect with the bright white fluffy look?

The insect that looks like a tiny white carpet is actually a lady beetle larva. Instead of the bright red-and-black lady beetles we usually think of, this larva will turn into a small dark brown or black beetle.

These nondescript beetles belong to a group called dusky lady beetles (Tribe Scymnini). The adults are round in shape, like other lady beetles, and feed on aphids, scales and mealybugs, too. The main difference is that the larvae produce a white waxy coating, which is thought to help protect them from predators.

Have you ever spot an adult dusky lady beetle or a larva? Where did you find it?

Welcome back to Seed of the Week!

Our mystery seeds from two weeks ago were indeed from the common garden flower bachelor's buttons, Centaurea cyanus.

bachelors buttons flowersThey may also be called cornflowers, although other kinds of plants may share that name.

Bachelor's buttons were originally from Europe. They have been grown as an annual garden flower throughout the world and have naturalized in parts of North America and Australia. Ironically, the plant is declining in the wild in Europe.

bachelor-button-flower012

The flowers are commonly a lovely blue, although other shades are possible.

Nordens_flora_007_Blåklint(Botanical illustration by C.A.M. Lindman at Wikimedia)

 Have you ever grown bachelor's buttons in your garden?

It's May and the saguaro cacti are in full bloom.

saguaro-flower-carpenter-bee-111Although the flowers are open at night, they remain open long enough in the morning for bees and birds to gather their nectar and pollen.

saguaro-flowers-bees-123Both honey bees and carpenter bees are visiting these flowers.

white-winged-dove-on-saguaroThe birds that pollinate the saguaros are white-winged doves. They show up as the cacti begin to flower and stay through the summer fruiting season.

bees-over-saguaro-flowers-456Why didn't I get any closer photographs?

saguaro-exampleThat might have been a bit difficult, as saguaros can be roughly 50 feet tall when mature. The flowers form at the top.

Have you ever seen a saguaro cactus in bloom?