Skip to content

Rosemary plants grow well here in Arizona.

This time of year, the shrubs are covered with delicate light blue or purplish flowers.

The honey bees visit the flowers in a constant stream of activity.

After watching the bees for a few minutes, you begin to notice the bees have a light-colored dusting of pollen on the back of their head and thorax.

It looks like they've been sprinkled with wheat flour.

Where is it coming from?

To answer that question, check out the structure of the rosemary flower up close. See those "antlers" sticking out of the top of the flower? The ones with the deep purple pads on the ends are the stamens. The purple pads are the anthers, where the pollen is released.

When the honey bee sticks her tongue deep into the throat of the rosemary flower to suck up the nectar at it's base, the stamen catches her on the back of her head and thorax. Like a pad full of powder, the anther dusts her with pollen.

Note:  the photographs are a bit blurry because the honey bees were visiting each flower for only seconds at time.

Have you ever seen a flower dust pollen onto a honey bee?

6

Today the bug of the week should really come with “Smell-o-vision.” To really get the whole experience, pull out your jar of rosemary, slide off the lid and take a deep whiff. Ummm….

Okay, back to bug of the week. I was looking at our rosemary plant this morning. Rosemary grows great here as a landscape plant.

rosemary plant

It has tiny blue flowers that grow in clusters. The flowers are attractive to honey bees.

rosemary spittle bug

This morning what I spotted wasn’t a rosemary flower, however, it was a soft, white ball on the stem.

rosemary spittle bug

Any guesses?

rosemary spittle bug

This is the frothy home of the spittle bug. Or in this case, two spittle bugs. The bugs are relatives of aphids. They feed by sticking their straw-like mouthparts into the plant and sucking out the plant juices. They also excrete a bubbly material to hide in while they are feeding. The two insects in this photo are nymphs. When they become adults they will have wings and look like leafhoppers.

Don’t worry about me exposing the bugs for a picture. I actually had taken a picture of this one first.
rosemary spittle bug
Within seconds, it was already producing froth to cover itself back up again.

rosemary spittle bug

Wonder what it would be like to live in a froth house? Sure smells good, I bet.