Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Composites as "Bug Magnets"

I drove on some of our rural roads today, passing by places where the mowers have recently leveled much that interests me.  However, three hardy members of the composite family, now known as Asteraceae, have made a quick comeback.  After spending the past three springs and summers photographing wildflowers and bugs, I have dubbed these three, together with the milkweeds in the Apocynaceae, "bug magnets."  It's fun to spot Salsify, Yarrow and Ox-eye Daisies while driving along at highway speeds and know that is you stop and take a closer look you will be rewarded with sights such as those shown above.  The top photo is Salsify, and no obvious bugs are showing, but nearly all of the Salsif now blooming have aphids along their stems and some ants herding them like cows so they can feed off their end products.  The Yarrow and Daisies were hosting a good variety of beetles, spiders, and butterflies, and the fun has only just begun.  Soon we'll have the Showy Milkweed and the Gum Plant blooming, then the Narrow-leaf Milkweed, Indian Hemp, and and even greater variety of bug visitors.  Down with mowers!  Up with children's story writers!

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