When I visited the yard this morning to take photographs for this post, first I checked to see what was flowering. Flowers are great places to find insects.
The little leaf cordia (Cordiaparviflolia) attracted my eye. It was covered with clusters of white blossoms.
The flowers were beautiful, but nothing was visiting them. In contrast, the plant next to it was humming and buzzing.
That’s the wolfberry, Lycium species. It isn’t much to look at from a human perspective.
From an insect’s perspective, however, it was an open grocery store.
The honey bees and digger bees were lining up to sip nectar.
Smaller bees were wrapped around the anthers harvesting pollen.
When it was done, the underside of this one’s abdomen was white with pollen.
Snout butterflies visited the flowers, too. They are drab when sitting like this.
Numerous flower flies and a few wasps flitted around. This flower or hover fly has a really big head compared to the rest of its body.
From the street (top photograph) the wolfberry bush looks like a small cluster of brownish branches on the left between the bright green Texas sage on the bottom left and the little leaf cordia. If you didn’t know the wolfberry was there, you wouldn’t even see it. Just the same, it provides food for hundreds of insects which in turn pollinate our gardens and serve as food for wildlife.
I hope I can continue to convince our homeowner’s association that it deserves to stay.
Aphids are a sure sign of spring and with aphids come a host of other insects that depend on them for food.
Take this insect near the bright orange-yellow oleander aphids on the rush milkweed. It looks a bit like a wasp with its ultra-thin “waist”, but its actually a fly, becuase it has two wings rather than four.
A few seconds before it laid an egg among the aphids.
It is Dioprosopa clavata, a type of flower fly (family Syrphidae). Another common name is aphid fly, because its larvae eat aphids. In fact, if you look up a bit on the stem to the right of the fly, there’s an older flower fly larva.
Here’s a closer view of another flower fly larva sitting on the bud of a rush milkweed flower.
The larva will pupate soon and become an adult aphid fly, so the cycle will continue. It is the life cycle of a family of specialist flies, based entirely on a few aphids on a milkweed plant.