Urban Homesteading on a Small City Lot: Aphids, Their Predators and The Predator's Predators

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Aphids, Their Predators and The Predator's Predators

I have been watching closely what's been going on with the aphids in the garden.  I am an entomologist, so of coarse, it is all very fascinating to me.

There are at least four different kinds of aphids out there right now, but I only have pictures of two of them today. The black ones are on the fava beans.  I have shown pictures of these before.

These are on a pepper leaf.

I have posted pictures of lady bugs and a syrphid fly larva before.  They are really digging into the aphids with gusto.  Here is a large cluster of lady beetle eggs.  I caught a couple of lady beetles mating, but I didn't have my camera at the time.  Sorry, no insect porn today.

This little guy is a syrphid fly larva or maggot.

I couldn't resist the urge to pick him up and get a closer look.  You can see his mouth hooks in this picture.  He almost looks like a caterpillar, but minus the head capsule and plus a long tapering head.  He even looks like he has prolegs like a caterpillar.

I put him back on the fava beans next to a large cluster of aphids.

Bad news for the syrphid flies.  This wasp is like the evil alien from the movie Aliens with Sigourney Weaver to the Syrphid fly maggots.  It lays its eggs into the small larva so that the living, breathing, feeding larva can act like an incubator to the wasp's young.  When the wasp larva has gotten enough nutrients and grown large enough it will emerge through the integument of the maggot, leaving it to die. I actually saw this one lay eggs on a maggot, but wasn't quick enough with the camera to capture it.  Not only that, but I doubt the little point and shoot camera I have would have done it justice.

There are also aphids on my eggplants, cabbage, peas, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lettuce and potatoes.  I have plenty of food for the aphid predators.  They are certainly hanging out and laying eggs, too.  None of the nectar flowers I have planted have started blooming yet for the syrphid flies to feed at, or to attract the pollinators, but that hasn't stopped them from coming.  I have seen at least four types of native bees out there this week.  I need to find an earlier blooming nectar flower for next year.  I do have some creeping thyme starts to put in.  They are starting to bloom in their pots right now.

I hope you enjoyed the insect update, insect daily news from the garden.


  1. The wasp/maggot thing might give me nightmares! Probably for the best you didn't capture the egg laying.

    1. Oh, come one Auntie Linda, you are always so facinated by this stuff. I think, despite their obviously evil ways, those wasps are quite beautiful.